Each month our intrepid artist liaison and generally jovial Eikon staffer Patrick Coste sits down with a tattoo artist to get to know them a little better. This week he's catching up with the geekiest of tattooers, Melissa Valiquette!
Geek at heart, part-time taxidermist, full-time top realism artist, Melissa’a got crazy stories we can’t tell here!! Ask her though! - Patrick Coste
Patrick Coste: MELLL Mel… Remember me?!! Hahaha. How are you old friend? It’s not every day that I have the chance to interview one of my very first tattoo friends from 10 years ago!!! I LOVE IT! Now we can catch up, and see what’s happened since!! This is great!!! How have you been, you geek!??
Melissa Valiquette: Hahaha YES, so glad we’re catching up. I’m great. Thank you so much for this interview, so glad to be part of it! Over here, we’re busier than ever and it feels great!
PC: 2020 is such a blur, I know we saw each other, way too long ago... for the love of me, I can't recall when it was… NIX? Nouvelle ERE?
MV: It was at the last NIX, RIP DAMIAN. I wasn't able to attend the last Nouvelle Ere Convention in Montreal, we had Sean’s very-very important birthday bash that same weekend. We figured we could go back to a convention any time... but noooooo. Who would've thought...
PC: Are you kidding?? I know you’re not. I remember you coming by our booth and saying so! Let's go back to the start of 2020 and how it began… Tell me everything!
MV: Well.. 2020 was a bummer all along really! Seems like it was sooo long ago, you know the feeling right? Australia was burning, the Amazon is still burning… We all have to remember that part as well. But at least I was seeing my friends, my parents...
When we started to hear it all… we decided to close. Sean and Angus were totally in tune and everyone elsewhere were as well, that would have been about a week before the health board told everybody to shut down.
PC: ...and the rest is a bit of history eh!! How's the shop these days? How are Sean and Angus??
MV: They’re both great and the shop is even better!! Busier than ever! We moved it a little while ago and it’s in a great location and we all have enough room for all the new protocols. Life is good!
PC: We were talking about that today, and it feels great to be able to be at ease even though we’re in the red zone… I have to ask a question I’be never asked you, which I ask everybody! How did you end up tattooing?
MV: I always was lit! But probably when I was 13... hahah, I was drawing with sharpies. when I was around 17, I struggled to get a good apprenticeship for quite a few years. I did 3 tattoos at that place, and wasn't a great experience... so, off I went. I was doing college and all at that time.
At one point I left mom's place, got to work… you know regular life!! I figured my tattoo life was never coming! Took FIIIIIVEEEE years… Around 2006 I found a great place. It was a little bit smoother. That was in 2001 with Julio and I learned how to tattoo for real. It was a great experience and a good base to become a clean tattooer, as it was APT approved even way back then and all the way back when it was a thing. I learned coil machine mechanics, needle making, sterilization packages making too!
Then I met Randy Stewart, a friend of mine was going to get tattooed and bam! I was born in fire hahaha... I just went for it and never looked back!
PC: During that time you met Angus, then Sean? Such great people! Then you open DFA TATTOOS... What’s the story behind all that!!? What‘s next!?
MV: It is a fun story, hahaha! Sean was, and still is, Angus’ friend from way back and I met Angus at schoo. We became great friends, we have the same D&D tattoos haha, it wasn't planned hahaha. And we love tattoos and it’s perfect chemistry. Our other tattooers also make a perfect fit.
Hmmm.. what’s next? I don’t know! My goal was DFA shop for so long, now I have it, I enjoy it… So yes, enjoyment would be what is next for me, taking the time to enjoy this. It’s been 6 years since DFA and it’s never been busier. We’re still taking walk-ins, in a sense, but the rules are quite different.
PC: I know you’re a geek at heart! You looooveee Star Trek, Star Wars, and everything in between and you get a kick every time you do something about those subjects eh!? AND you got to meet Captain Picard!!! Haha...
MV: Oh yesss, big-time fan. It’s ok to be a fan hahaha – you’re a Shawn James fanboy :P hahaha. I’m a huge fan of Captain Picard and I did a lot of geeky tattoos, I just love it!! Simple eh! It’s a big part of my life. I also play online D&D with other friend tattooers.
PC: Lol yes, I am hahaha! I have to talk about the assquatch!! Hahaha, can we? Can we?
MV: Lol yes, it’s made with deer butt!! Ahah truly…
Like many tattooers, we love this taxidermy stuff and have quite a few. I just took it to the next level, and started practicing. I still have some fine-tuning to do on that one, but it's far along enough (and I'm too excited) to show you! #assquatch
This is made from the rear end of a whitetail deer, turned upside down so the tail is his beard, and then you sculpt an assquatch face into it. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!
It’s a mix of science, artistry and fun!! Haha, you can do all sorts of poses and all. You can buy pre-made skeletons for it, but they never get the right shape, so you need to adapt. Quite intriguing. Tattooers have a strong sense of hygiene and taxidermy requires quite a bit for tanning skin on leather etc.
PC: This is far out! So weirdly cool! I want... I NEED an assquatch in my life!
One last one before we go!! What’s your jam these days, don’t think, just shoot me a tune!?
PC: Wait whaaaa!? Haha! Thank you so much Mel!!! I hope to see you soon!
Follow Melissa Valiquette on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melissa_valiquette/