“Meet the Austins” Mike Austin -World Class Tattoo Artist and Illustrator and Debbie Austin Business Manager By Donna McManus
Longwoods Trail Private Tattoo Studio is located on Highway # 2, historically where the old Driftwood Diner use to be. Mike and his wife Debbie are co-owners. Two years ago, they bought the building and transformed it into the welcoming venue it is today. Tattoo appointments are booked through Debbie who manages the business side. The wait is about 5 months for a 30-minute consultation with Mike. The customer brings their images and ideas with them, and
Customers come from all occupations, from 18 to 88 and from all parts of Canada as far as the Arctic. He does not do facial tattooing unless it is a cultural tradition. Some Inuit people have lost the history of tattoo patterns in their families. Mike originally went to Iqaluit Nunavut in the Arctic to revitalize the lost art of facial tattooing and to work on a documentary called Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. Mike has visited the Arctic many times and has a passion for its people. He collaborated
Mike adds his own creativity. From that point, the wait is about one year for a tattoo. 9 times out of 10, they are happy to wait. Mike’s training started at the Blue Dragon tattoo studio in 1986 where he first worked as an artist. A year later, he trained as a tattoo artist with Frank Malin from Melbourne. In 1992, Mike left the Blue Dragon and started Mike’s Custom Tattoos. It was at the Blue Dragon that Mike and Debbie first met. She was celebrating her 30th birthday and wanted a small first tattoo. Little did they know that 18 years later, under different circumstances, Debbie would come back into his shop, looking for another tattoo and the rest as they say is history.
with author Neil Christopher and created the illustrations for his book of Inuit legends, “The Hidden”. It took 8 years with over 100 drawings and is the first of its kind. Mike is humble when he says that tattooing and art are all he has ever done. He is honoured to create art that will be around long after he is gone. The profession recognizes him as a leading illustrator and tattoo artist. He has represented Canada at several International tattoo competitions and his images about Inuit mythology appear in several books.
Mike has travelled for 33 years to England and other parts of the world to learn fromother great tattoo artists including the Dutchman. He honed his craft and developed a unique style. The tattoos Mike creates are from many cultures including traditional, Asian,
European and Native. According to Mike, to be successful, a tattooist needs to be able to do many styles. Mike prefers black and grey scale tattooing to colour, as they last longer and tend not fade like colour. Memorial tattoos are a very popular way for people to honour a loved one. Cover up tattoos such as for mastectomy scars are also common.
Issue 30 - March 2020 Page 13
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