Val McBain Talks Loving Nature, Her Flukey Start and Realism Tattoo Influences...
Val McBain Talks Loving Nature, Her Flukey Start and Realism Tattoo Influences...
Point to Point
Season 2

Val McBain Talks Loving Nature, Her Flukey Start and Realism Tattoo Influences...

"Kingston-based artist Val McBain takes time to sync herself with nature, and surround herself with its power. She thrives alongside it, and offers tattoos that are deeply rooted in meaning." - Patrick Coste

Val McBain Talks Loving Nature, Her Flukey Start and Realism Tattoo Influences...


Point to Point takes you behind the needle to share the personal journeys of tattoo artists like you. Drawing inspiration, spreading respect and love… This time we’re talking with nature-lover, local Kingston artist Val McBain.

Val McBain at work!

Name: Val McBain
Year tattooing: 15 years
Place of business: Dark Tides Tattoos, Kingston, Ontario

Patrick Coste: Val thank you so much for this interview. I was glad-ish that you had a cancellation so we could have a chance to do this! Did I say that out loud 0_0 lol ?

Val McBain: Lol, thank you for having me!

PC: I've been lurking on your social media since we met in 2017 at the Montreal Ink convention, but we’ve never really talked that much... I’ve been a fan of your tattoos and I know @bass_junky is a big fan of your fishing adventures! How’ve
you been during this crazy time?

VMcB: I’d been doing a lot of fishing before we started to work again... I still do, lol. Really, the first two weeks were sort of bad then you realize all there is. So, I gardened - I grew great kale, I cooked, got back to nature a bit more and I took time to take time lol.

PC: Yeah that's life! Did you catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor showers a few weeks back?
I did. It was a bit cloudy, but I did and it was beautiful. Could have been better though!

PC: Tell me, you started tattooing a while ago... how did it all come to be?
It was kind of a fluke! I was at Dawson School of Art and was struggling to find a summer job, no call backs and all. So I walked into a shop, handed in my resumé and said: I can clean, manage... Sold myself a bit and oddly I got a call back from that shop and got an interview for an apprenticeship. So just on a whim, lol, seven years later... I got a bit of experience. It was a tough time, but it’s how I started.

I then changed shops for a couple of years. Montreal always had great shops, and at that moment it was time for me to experiment and get to know different styles. It also got me exposed to other people and their expertise.

A little after that I moved to Oshawa, stayed there for a little while and got that second kick; a whole new team and great artists. It’s where I got good at tattooing, and enjoyed it.

PC: Your tattoos show how much of a fan of the outdoors you are. Did nature tattoos find you, or was it you who found nature?

VMcB: I believe it found me. I did a few nature tattoos while back in Montreal, but it was limited. When I moved to Ontario, the demand was there and it got me out of doing tribal tattoos and out of the script style tattooing… I’m quite dyslexic and a have few “RAGRETS” tattoos, lol. Drawing is definitely easier for me than scripting.

So, I started out with black and grey, then, when Mike Devries and Nikko Hurtado were getting it done in a crazy way, I got into Realism big time.

PC: Sorry folks no script... Do you tie in fishing, peace and tattooing?
Definitely, especially when I start a tattoo. I get overwhelmed just looking at a realistic animal stencil, so I start and it needs the same sort of patience. I’m a very patient person but I do stress a bit. I often do a lot of thinking, you know.. I think about thinking, lol.

PC: You obviously like to do nature realism, but I also saw other realistic tattoos. Any other style of tattoos you like to do, besides script? Lol...

VMcB: I love to do small portraits, you know; gritty pictures, pictures from the earlier 1900s, not great resolution... and then you make it come to life. I love those candid portraits of loved ones, and I will always have a soft spot for fishing pictures.

PC: You do it so well. Val thank you so much for your time! You are a lady of few words, but your spirit shows a great deal of passion and respect for your soundings. Oh, and let's do that collab you guys talked about... Well whenever we can…


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