Kaitlin Todd has been tattooing her entire life.
When she was eight years of age, she began to print out designs from Google images. She had the designs tattooed on her body when she was 18 years old. She now enjoys tattoos and has an apprenticeship at the 100 Mile Tattoo Studio with Andrew Schmah.
“I’ve always loved drawing so it feels good to be making a living doing it,” Todd, 28, said. “You pretty much work for yourself, it’s not a bad gig.”
Three years ago, her apprenticeship began. Her first lessons covered how to clean skin properly before inking to prevent the spread of blood-borne pathogens. They also taught how to speak to clients. “It was a lot of watching, learning and absorbing what Andrew does,” she said.
Then she practiced her design skills with pen and paper, and then tattooed grapefruits and oranges. She could also evaluate the depth of her inking by peeling it.
“It’s a starter and it gets you comfortable with how the machine moves and the weight of it. That’s all something that you have to factor in and you can figure that out without doing it on somebody’s skin.”
Her mom, Schmah and her first tattoos were all done by her. It was just over a year since she began to take clients.
“It’s a very stressful idea altering somebody’s body for the rest of their lives,” Todd said. “It definitely took some borrowed confidence to get started.”
Todd said it’s important to work with her clients on what a tattoo will look like before she starts the tattoo. While her mentor’s style is dark and realism-focused, Todd has found a love for colour, thin lines and loose-flowing designs. Particularly flowers have captured her attention.
“I wouldn’t say I have a style specifically yet but that tends to be what I like to do. It’s funny because that’s not what I thought my style would be and it’s definitely not the style of tattoo I get, but I like them and clients are always happy.”
Most of the clients in 100 Mile House also don’t fit the usual mold. Instead of tattooing young people or bikers, she prefers to tattoo mothers and grandmothers. She said some were turned away because past tattoo artists didn’t like their designs or because they didn’t have enough tattoos.
Todd stated that she does everything possible to make people feel welcome and comfortable.
“It’s a very interesting industry to be in. It’s very accepting and I like that it’s becoming a lot more female-dominated,” Todd said. “It used to definitely be a very ‘biker guy’ scene but that’s not the way it is anymore.”