Rebecca Guinard Talks Jewellery Making And Tattooed Barbies!
PC: Bonjour Rebecca, wow!! It’s been a while eh? Last time, we were at the Nouvelle-Ere convention in Montreal. That was … in… 2018-19 right?
RG: Hi! Yes, that’s right… in 2019 before the “twilight zone” (pandemic).
PC: WOW, eh! I’ve got you here today to talk about this crazy thing you’re doing, and this was way before it was fashionable LOL, the Tattooed Barbies. It’s quite unique! I’ve never seen this before, and with the new Barbie movie things just heated up a bit for ya!
But you’ve actually been doing these crazy tattooed Barbies for quite a bit, and it’s a thing, right???
Tell me how this passion of yours came about?
RG: This project was born following a 2019 trip to Japan. I found an Asian Barbie in a second-hand shop, and I was immediately inspired to decorate her body with Japanese-style tattoos. Subsequently, the idea of characters sporting different styles of tattoos from different cultures and backgrounds took shape.
I was positively impressed to see how culturally decertified and body-positive they were, since I was playing with them at a young age. To see that, helped me to be more creative with this medium. Also, how cool is it to work on mini tattoo bodysuits?!
All of this helped me to stay creative and positive during the pandemic period. Then, in order to present them and to make this exhibition, I devoted myself to photography. I realized that I had to push it to the end so I wouldn’t miss the momentum of the movie. Also at Glamort Tattoo, we want to restart having exhibitions/art events a few times a year.
PC: I remember you posting pictures from Japan. I bet that trip is a whole topic in itself! If we stay a bit closer to home here though, you’re hosting an event and things may get a bit crazier for you…
Let’s tell everybody that you're having a Tattooed Barbie Exhibit September 3rd at Glamort Tattoo Studio in Montreal! This is perfect timing, but you’ve been working at “tattooing Barbies” for a long while eh?
RG: Yes, I’ve worked on and off for 3 years on this. The exhibition will be from September 3 to October 3, 2023. I am now preparing the vernissage. I will be exhibiting the Barbies in glass showcase displays, big photo portraits, and I will be selling 2024 calendars and a few magnets. With this project I wanted to do something fun with a pop icon toy and my tattoo passion. I think it can decorate well and get people talking…
PC: You’re very humble… This is gonna be quite epic for those who dig it! To give a little more to people who can truly relate to this!
Can you share a bit of technical stuff here? What paints and brushes are you using? They look so tiny!
RG: For a long time, I have loved painting on a small scale. In my teenage years, I painted model cars.
For the Barbies, it was the same kind of brushes, very small ones. I had to learn to prep the plastic and figure out which pen for the lines would hold the best without changing colour. I used liquid acrylic for the colour, and for some background an airbrush was practical.
I also had to think about their outfits. Sometimes I made them, otherwise I did some research to find the best option online. For example, I ordered 2 kimonos from a Japanese seamstress and I fabricated their little traditional shoes.
PC: Model cars… Now I can relate 😛. In all seriousness, that’s pretty insane, very detailed. WOW!
I’ve gotta ask, who’s getting those? Lol! Seems weird, but it’s not for everyone and, man oh man, do collectors love it eh?
RG: For now, I’m selling the pictures and the merch I made for them. It takes me around 10h/15h to make the more intricate ones, so it would be pretty pricey to feel alright selling them. Also, I would like to exhibit them in tattoo conventions maybe.
PC: Attention all convention organizers!
PC: You’ve got to be quite precise to paint those dolls, but that’s not the only way you use your skill and talent.
You also make jewellery, like a “respect to the trade” style jewellery. You can have a Mike Pike tattoo machine, dragon claws and more!
Would you like to elaborate on those?
RG: Yes, before learning tattooing (20 years ago), I studied for 2 years in jewelry making. It helped me to be precise. I love sculpting wax and seeing the results in metal.
Because of the pandemic, I reunited with my old love and started a small production of brooches and pendants. Mike Pike approached me to make one of his machines, it was a mini tea cup model. It was a real pleasure to work with this lifer legend.
PC: WOW RESPECT! Mike Pike is a legend in tattoo machine building. They’re amazing! From what I can see, it seems to be a pretty intense process. How long does it take to make one, if I may ask?
RG: Thanks! I start with a drawing and I sculpt in a special wax. It takes sometimes 2 to 3 days and sometimes a little less.
After I’m satisfied with my wax sculpture, I go to a casting place because I’m not equipped to do it myself. When I go pick them up in metal I have to do the soldering and the polishing.
PC: Craziness! Just like that… You make it look very simple. You rock! Now, we can’t forget to talk about tattoos and the art of making that!
Let's go back a bit in time, 20 years ago you’ve mentioned. How did you get into tattooing?
RG: I started to get tattooed at 13 years old, a small Chinese dragon on my butt cheek 😅. My mom told me that if it was hidden it was okay, lol.
PC: Wait Whaaatt? I wan… never mind. Go on! 😛
RG: LOL! I always drew and was attracted by different mediums, but tattooing was the ultimate cool thing back In 2001.
I started as a counter girl at Imago for 2 years and then went to Bordeaux, France to do small tattoos at Michel Tattoo Family. I finally got a full-time tattooing chair at Mtl Tattoo way back when it was Tattooatouage.
Now I’m at Glamort Tattoo, it’s been 10 years.
PC: That's way back when indeed… good people. You’re very much inspired by Japanese art and Japanese-style tattooing, were you always attracted by that style?
RG: I find Japanese aesthetics in general are about balance, efficiency, pretty and dark. I love how they were ahead with full bodysuit tattoos. Same efficiency that old school tattoos give me, with a poetic way and perfectionist side that impresses me a lot.
PC: We could go on for hours and hours here Rebecca, we’ve got to catch up at some point!
RG: You should come by the exposition in a few days!
PC: DEAL! Thank you Rebecca, it’s always a pleasure to talk to you.
RG: Thanks to you! I'm very grateful for the interest and for this article. Eikon was always a reference for me since my humble beginning ✌️
PC: See you in a few days at the expo! You’ve got me committed here, lol!
If you’re in Montreal, be sure to check out The Tattooed Barbie Exposition by Rebecca Guinard. Glamort Tattoo Studio, 4020 Saint Ambroise St Local 268 - September 3, 2023, 3pm - 9pm.