Marine Ishigo Talks Tattoo Life in Montreal vs France, Imago Tattoo Family, and Precision in Her Life and Art
Patrick Coste: Bonjour Marine, how are you? Is Montreal treating you well?
Marine Ishigo: Oui, oui merci. It’s been a really great eight months and I love it!
PC: Sweet, eight months eh? You’ve JUST arrived from Besançon, France. Amazing! You must be on a high right now, but the main question is WHY?
MI: Lol, why not? We’re big Montreal lovers, my husband @dino_nevroz_tattoo and I. Over in Besancon we had our own shop, it was nice but we were missing and looking for a tattoo family. We sort of never had that back home.
We saw that Imago was looking for new Crew Mates. We knew Safwan from previous conventions. We decided to apply and Safwan called us back, and it was his pleasure to welcome us to Montreal.
So, that was it! We told ourselves, “Here we go, let’s close shop, leave France and move”, but it had been planned for the past few years. We thought about doing it and then it happened.
PC: Simple, but not really right? Was it difficult for you to come over?
MI: Truly. But we were ready, and if we were going to do it we wouldn't go to just any shop. We wanted to be with the best.
We have our work visa for 2 years, but we’re looking for a lifelong stay. We can also extend for another year if needed. It’s a lot of paperwork but doable.
PC: 100%! You definitely become attached after a couple years for sure. Tell me, is the tattoo scene the same in Besançon?
MI: Yes and no. Montreal is very unique. Besancon's strategic location was great. We had the train covering France, Switzerland and Belgium. Those countries are also tattoo lovers, but I’m very happy over here in Canada. Collectors want big tattoos, full sleeves, full back etc… A bit different from back home.
I also had a good portfolio and had been in Montreal before, so it helped with the move and helped build trust with clients whom I’d met a few times before at conventions
PC: Eight months and what seems like an instant success. Have you always done stunning ornamental - geometric tattoos?
MI: After eleven years of overnight success, lol! I’m a self taught artist. I started with lettering, tribal…but I did find my style fast enough, perhaps a couple years in the making. I loved the way geometric shapes fit the body and that’s what brought me to ornamental tattoos. We took a month off when we arrived, to get settled. We needed that.
PC: I was checking out your Instagram page. You draw such beautiful crisp lines… Sorry, I just had get that in there...
So it sounds like an amazing trip, the stars all aligned quickly, love that! You seem to be at home in Montreal. Would you say the team at Imago has a lot to do with that? I mean, how can it be boring with @sophie.robicho.tattoo around? Lol…
MI: Thank you! Oui, the team is amazing. Safwan is truly a great dude and Sophie is definitely a riot!
PC: Come to think of it, it was also your first Christmas in Quebec, with the snow and everything! I mean... I’m well-acquainted with our Canadian winters, but for you, it must have been crazy…
MI: Dino and I loooooove the snow. We thought that the winter was a bit short, but well... There’s one every year right? Hah! So many activities to do, things to see. So much for us to discover, it’s truly wonderful.
I started snowboarding and went to different ski resorts, and there are so many more to see next year.
PC: You’ve got to visit my neck of the woods. There are quite a few good spots! Any summer activities that you’re looking forward to?
MI: I like to be outside, so yes, I’m looking forward to doing some hiking, discovering Montreal and hitting the festivals. I'm also gonna go to the FEQ (festival d'été de Québec). It’s going to be a great visit and fun to be in Quebec City.
I love to go and draw in parks. I love to work, so I work all the time in different places, lol!
PC: Do you prefer drawing or tattooing?
MI: I don't know… let’s say, if I go on vacation and I'm drawing, I’ll miss tattooing and vice versa. I’ll be fine one day and not the other. I’d say a balance is good.
PC: I like that! Are you someone who thinks ahead to the next few years?
MI: Mmm… Not really because really, I do everything I wish right in this moment. I live day to day. I never would have imagined leaving France, that I would be in a shop like Safwan’s. I am still in a little bubble and telling myself; yes it’s real, yes it’s real.
For me, the next year will be in tattooing. I'm still not where I want to be, or what I imagine in my head. Each year I see that my work is evolving, but there’s so much still to learn… I don’t have ideas that are set in stone. We’ll see.
PC: Great way of thinking here…love it!
MI: I don’t know...Lol. I like to be organized and plan. All my bookings are scheduled to the minute so I can maximize my day.
PC: I bet that’s how your personality matches with your precision lines, lol!
MI: Both apply to me for sure, lol!
PC: I picture you drawing and colouring mandalas in the morning to relax…
MI: I’m more of a boxer in the morning!
PC: Wait, what? Like, you box before work?
MI: Oui, it helps to calm me down, so before work in the morning I go down and hit the bag and then walk to work. I live about 10 minutes from Imago.
PC: Oh wow, that’s pretty neat and I’ll make sure I don’t ever piss you off, lol!
PC: So, I’m thinking of the timeline here… You must have been to a few conventions in France, how have they been so far?
MI: People are really happy to be able to attend and visit. People just wanted to be able to go again really. The convention I went to had a good number of visitors and people were looking forward to getting tattoos.
PC: What’s next for you?
MI: We, the team and I, are going to be doing some conventions; the Deadly Tattoo Convention, Winnipeg in August. We’re going to go back to France for the Lyon tattoo convention and the new Paris convention called the Planetarium.
PC: You’ve heard about the pool in Winnipeg...
MI: Oooohhhh YES…
PC: LOL, feels good to be able to do so eh? Well, I mean doing conventions, perhaps not the pool party so much! Lol!
MI: Lol! Oui, absolutely! See people, exchange ideas, hugs, see my family.
PC: Thank you so much Marine! I can feel your passion for tattooing through the phone. We're gonna see each other on the road soon!!!
PC: Oh hey, one last thing before we go. Is Ishigo your real last name?
MI: Lol, no. It means STRAWBERRY in Japanese! I had pink hair when I was a teenager, so voila!
PC: AMAZING! Lol.