'An absolute gift': Sask. Métis tattoo artist incorporates culture into design
Pile O' Bones hosted their 18th annual tattoo convention at the Turvey Centre on the weekend where artists from around the country were able to show off their talent.
Nolan Malbeuf is a Métis tattoo artist from northern Saskatchewan and although he is passionate about art, he never thought of it as a profession.
“I always identified as an athlete,” Malbeuf said. “And then about 11 years ago I was in a car accident which kind of changed the course of my life.”
Malbeuf was unable to participate in sports after the accident which opened his eyes to the world and art of ink.
“I have developed a style that I call medicine, primarily based on Métis beadwork, animals, and nature,” Malbeuf said.
“It's really important to me. I feel like I have experienced a resurgence and my own life.”
Malbeuf took tattoo artistry 11 years ago after an accident prevented him from following his athletic aspirations. (Luke SImard/CTV News)
He calls the style “maskihki” and it’s bringing Malbeuf clients from across the country.
“Tattoos aren't just something you put on your skin. There's a relationship between you and the artist,” Vicki Bouvier explained.
Bouvier travelled Calgary to receive a tattoo from Malbeuf.
“So sitting with Nolan and getting a tattoo in that way was important,” she said.
Vicki Bouvier travelled from Calgary to get a Métis inspired tattoo. (Luke Simard/CTV News)
Bouvier received a tattoo of a medicine plant on her left arm. The specific plant has a significant meaning in Métis culture.
“Those designs are indicative and reflect the places that we come from and the kinship with the land and how we survive,” Bouvier said.
By using his art and experience as a lesson, Malbeuf hopes to inspire the next generation of Indigenous artists.
“My message would be to try, don't limit yourself, and take risks. You have to put yourself out there to the people, be vulnerable and learn,” he explained.
“For me to be able to put Indigenous inspired art on people it feels like it's an absolute gift.”
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