“The most attractive aspect of being a tattoo artist is the opportunity to share stories and connect with people from all walks of life”
Before embarking on his journey as a tattoo artist, Cloutier pursued a career as a photographer, capturing captivating images of music bands and live performances. He also earned a master's degree in Graphic Design and worked as an Art Director in the advertising industry. However, she eventually felt a strong desire to connect with people on a deeper level through her art. This led him to transition into the tattoo industry where he was able to intertwine his passion for art and human interaction. In the vast universe of tattoo art, there are occasionally people whose skills transcend the limits of creativity and technical prowess. Among them stands out Michael...
In this exclusive interview, we dive into his journey as a tattoo artist, his inspirations, and his plans for the future.
Hi MICHAEL, first of all I must tell you that you are a great artist, I like your approach to each piece, it is very attractive to see your work done, especially because you have different styles and a fantastic mix between them.
I see that there was a long preparation to reach this level of tattoo artist (which is fabulous) Do you remember the first time you had a tattoo machine in your hand?
First of all thanks!! I indeed remember the first time I’ve handled for fun and curiosity a tattoo machine. It was around 10 years ago. I was tired of everything around me in my life, and needed something new to try or to achieve. At that time, the idea of tattooing presented itself to me as I was already kind of curious about this art and all that culture. So I bought a tattoo kit on the web (which I Highly don’t recommend to start with) and I was in my home. I had done the whole setup and preparation with some fake skin and was ready to try to draw as I do with a pen, but with a tattoo machine. I can assure you that the result wasn’t at all what I would expect and it was quite frustrating haha.
What was your first style?
Well, at the beginning, I was more focussed on a graphic approach. As I was coming from a huge background of Art director and graphic design, it obviously kind of directed the way I was going to approach the tattoos. In some way, I was also doing a lot of abstract patterns and visuals since it was a stress relief in the process of learning the tool too. So we could say that the first style I was doing was some kind of « trash polka » and graphic tattoos. But in the end, I’ve tried pretty much every styles possible. I think that in the beginning, it’s important to learn and to touch as much as possible different styles and aspects of the tattoo culture because each of them provide some learning aspects about techniques.
What did you do before you were a tattoo artist?
I always was in the field of arts. So before becoming a tattoo artist I was a photograph for music bands and live performances while studying and doing my master in Graphic design. This led me to become an Art director in the field of advertising for 2 years. After that, I got into the tattoo industry when I got tired of all the aspects of the world of advertising and needed something more connected to the human, the art and the sharing aspect.
What is the attractive part of this profession?
For me, the most attractive part of tattooing, is the sharing part. I can’t be more grateful each day to be able to meet new people, share stories and parts of our lives. Life for me is all about being able to travel, share and learn about each other whatever our differences are and this profession offers that, and way much more.
I’m not sure exactly what the questions is about, but if it’s about how I work with my references, I would say that I start with a research of realism pictures. As this day, my work is a mix of simplified realism with altered colours and some touches of graphic. So I basically start with a research of images to find the « squeleton » of the project on which after I will add some graphic elements and build the colour scheme that I will use on it.
If it’s about tattoo artist references or influences, well it’s difficult for me to find one in particular as I was influenced by a lot of them for different reasons and even more influenced by artists in other disciplines. But If I had to named few of them, I would say that Luka Lajoie was one artist which who I’ve worked for several years and which influenced a lot my ethic and my way to approach everything about the tattoo industry! I feel lucky to have gotten the chance to grow beside this incredible person in the past when the industry was quite different as it is today. Also, I got inspired a lot by artists like Ad Pancho, Yann Black, Timur Lysenko and a lot more for their creativity and their artistic approaches.
The most difficult technique? Because?
Hmmmm… I don’t think there’s a technique that is more difficult than another… Each style and technique have their difficulties. If you do Traditional, well you will want to pull the most straight lines ever! With the perfect clean colour packing. If you do Realism, you will want the most detailed and smooth shades that you can pull. If it’s some colour work, then you will want to work on the colour packing and smooth gradients as well and the colour saturation and aspect to create great contrast of warmth, coldness and colour. I can go like this for every styles that exist. In the end, I don’t think there’s a most difficult technique more than another. You will eventually experience some difficulties and will need to master some different aspects of tattooing.
There is always an anecdote with a client or some incredible situation.
Honestly, everytime someone asks me this question, I don’t know what to answer! Haha! Even If I think a lot about it, I don’t recall having one situation or anecdote that would be so incredible that I would remind it forever… But when people ask me that question, I answer them that one of the funniest moment ls that I always refer to is the day I’ve tattooed my father! He asked me to create a design that my mother would like, because it was her birthday in few days! So I did the work thinking that it was for my mother… But then he asked me to tattoo him the design… I thought he wanted me to tattoo him since my mother was afraid of getting a tattoo but always wanted one… but no, he wanted it so he could mess with her and piss her off a little bit by showing off his tattoo that she would have wanted haha!
Do you do any activity? I saw that you like motorcycles
Hahaha… Well yesss!! I do a lot of stuff! I’m what you could call a really curious person who want ls to try everything! I love motorcycles, I scuba dive and I love to explore the waters! I have a music project named “botaniste” with my « brother » Martin Savard. I climb and do bouldering. I love hiking, doing road trips and sailing! Everything that is something that I haven’t tried or done or that I don’t know yet, is something that I will want to learn more and achieve! Hahaha... So yeah, I do a lot of activities and different stuff! Keep your mind open and try new things! It’s good for the health and for your brain ;)
Would you accept proposals from other studios to go as a guest artist? Travel and experiment with other artists?
For sure, I don’t do a lot of guest spots, beside the ones at my friends’ places, because I’ve been traveling a lot over the last years and it got me tired and exhausted. But I still continue to do few conventions here and there and to travel sometimes and I’m always open to do new guest spots or experiment / collaboration with other artists ! I think it’s important to stay awake and share experiences with other artists to stay open minded about how other approaches their work and it helps a lot for growing as a person and as an artist as well.
Oh!… If only I knew… haha! I have so much ideas, projects and concepts! I have tons of things I want to do. I would probably need way more time every day to achieve all the ideas I have! Haha… But right now I think, even if I’m still thirsty of pushing my work and my stuff, that I will settle my things back home, work more on my music project, “botaniste”, and take the time to organize all the ideas I have so I can be more focused on one thing at a time instead of throwing myself everywhere hahaha!… I will try I said… and maybe I will allow myself some holidays! It’s as much important as the work you put in your art ;)
How to contact you?
The easiest way to contact me for a tattoo appointment is by going on my web site, www.michaelcloutier.com. For everything else you can alway contact me on instagram at @cloutiermichael :)
Anything you want to say or share with our readers?
Hmmm… Be the best version of yourself, don’t compare, don’t diss, don’t be negative, make your own way with your own wonderful colours with respect and create your own future and share genuine love!…
Thank you for allowing us to show part of your art and get to know you a little better!