Yanick Sasseville Talks Creating Stories With Art, His Tattoo Evolution and Discovering Bass Guitar...
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 ultra-creative mind Yanick Sasseville!
Patrick Coste: Hey, hey Yannick! It’s been a long time since Winnipeg 2019...
Yanick Sasseville: LOL yes, it’s been a while. How are you and the supply business? It must be a bit crazy?
PC: Next question, lol! The struggle is real, and we need to adapt every day... Thank you for your support! How's business these days?
YS: We‘re in cancellation time... A bit more real these days…. We’re ok though, as we’re still booked. Lots of rescheduling is happening more these days. This whole year, I tell you man, I had calls while on 1st lockdown when people didn’t have anything to do. It’s a time to adapt and be creative.
I didn’t plan for conventions much for 2020, but I had quite a few guest spots and all. I wanted to go to the now famous Winnipeg convention. We saw you there last year, such a great show. You’re not a number when you go there. I love small conventions, they’re very family oriented.
Business is all over the place, but good. What I see is perhaps slower booking, but it all comes and goes during Christmas time! Five months ago is where the business happened big time. Quite a few people didn’t work, had money to spend while NOT on vacation… Now Christmas is here, I feel people are stressed. People talk about it without saying it, I can feel it. I see a different mood with recurring clients; they’re a bit more on edge. Some are not happy campers. We did have a backlog of bookings then. I’m ready to enjoy some music.
PC: Quite an epic journey we’ve had in 2020 when you think of it! Music eh? I know you’re an avid musician and a music lover. I saw that crazy bass guitar on your Instagram wall, quite the thing eh? What’s it all about?
YS: LOL! It’s a Chapman Stick made by Emmett Chapman in the early 1970s. It’s unbelievable! I love learning new things, lol.
PC: Way cool, this is extreme!!
YS: YES! Lol! I’ve been playing music for many years. I played drums for a long time then played guitar and at one point Michael Cloutier, who tattoos, lent me his bass for one week... I was hooked!
It was always there, but I discovered the bass that week. It was nice to sit and learn a new instrument, and to test new things! Like in art, graphic design, anything that has to do with visual communication, I love to try and test things, and tattooing is no different to me!
PC: I recall you being an art director, and a great one too. I also remember your course, but just a bit! Tell me about the trail you blazed to become a tattoo artist...
YS: Lol, yes, it’s quite an interesting one. I grew up in a small town called Mascouche in Quebec. I’ve loved tattoos since way before the internet, when you had to go and get magazines. I loved going through the pages. I always liked art at large and well tattoos were at the top of that chart.
I was studying art at that time, it was 97-ish… My friend told me “Hey, I'm going to get a tattoo, perhaps he needs someone!” So we went... It was a very biker-like shop, doing tribals, “tramp stamps”. I was judging a bit… It wasn't clean, but what do I know, right? It clashed real good, but I went there on and off for a year. It wasn't the greatest moment, but I touched tattooing then. At that time the “tattoo medium” wasn't a thing for me. It wasn't the tattoos I saw in the magazines, and the “tattoo life” I was discovering was not fitting me at all!
So, I went on and grabbed a design job for security, you know…don't we all? I was definitely a creative type; music, art, but all that is no good if you don't do anything with it!
I did a residency in Europe to do full-time painting and sculpture. It was a great course. I started winning prizes as a designer. It was going well, very well. I was the leader of my band, so I had to make a choice and manage everyone in the band. I was drawing before I could speak so I chose visual art.
If you’d asked me in 2011 if I was going to get a tattoo, I would be like - no more. Visual art was going great. Over time, I traveled, I did a wonderful residency in Europe, my projects went well and I was in a museum! I was exhausted and I’d had it! I was done… It was when there were a lot of cuts in art and culture, and it seemed no one cared for art any more. It created doubts in me…
So, here’s how tattoos found me once more… At that time I was doing a lot of cycling and I saw a man having trouble with his bike on the side of the path. Who knew, he was a tattoo artist with a semi-private studio in Mile End!
He told me to bring my bike to the shop, we could paint. Rapidly, I saw an aspect of tattooing that I hadn’t seen before - the contact with people. I was at a point where I was thinking “How can I meet people if they’re not coming to the art gallery?” Meeting this man was that particular moment. His name was Jose Marinot. For me it was a medium I tried and didn’t like, at the same time, I found tattooing again. For real he helped big time with that.
In 2012, I had an idea of where I was going and wanted to do, or not. I love Japanese-style tattooing. You can see it on me, and my personal tattoos are all about that. It’s also not what I wanted to do. My art was more visual, so I had to create my story.
The story of the visual is what I was going for, how to create a story, all the light and shadows. I arrived with visual baggage and my tool box was full.
I was lucky that Marc Lincourt, a painter, took me under his wing and Tex Lecor. Those guys were close and were pillars. They told me around twenty that if someone critiques your art and if it bother you, you gotta ask yourself the question “Why?”. So yah, all that forged my tattooing career.
I have a lot of good artists that I admire, but I don't have their fingers, so I removed my blinders and got inspired by all the tattoos. Not only tattoos, but art in itself and then making it a tattoo. Visual art is always a great inspiration outside tattooing.
When you tattoo at seventeen and when you’re in your thirties, it’s not the same… If I want to be good, I can't do it part time, so everything I had in between I tossed without thinking about it and decided to become a tattooer. Big shout out to my lady Jen who supported me through my visual art career that led me to this one!
PC: Wow eh? Lots of inspiration here. What’s next for you?
YS: Well COVID, after a year we’ll see what happens. I want to do guest spots, so I might do that. You know COVID brought us two new artists. We weren't looking for anybody, but this amazing thing happened and we got Danny and Jim. We’ve created a nice spot for them. It’s quite intimate with clients, we still have a good laugh and this is worth it.
PC: Very good stuff Yanick, good people right there! Two things before we go: How are your kitties these days? And...
YS: Ohhhh yessss, they are sweet, you can see it, lol! I always thought I was a dog dude… until I got a cat, lol. It’s the complicity I had- a few of them were from the SPCA. I had a Rex before this one. They like to be with other cats big time, so I planned and got a new one. I love my Rex, and two days before it arrived, my oldest had a failing kidney. YUP… So now we have Zelda & McFly. They make a great couple lol. They’re the kind of cats that would get bored and start trouble. They’re social bugs.
PC: ...now my second question lol, you cat lover! I know you’re a music lover like my co-worker ROB, a maniac, so what’s your jam while tattooing?
YS: My turntable is just fucked! LOL! I’m less of a DJ these days, but Chris Quire would be a great inspiration and music I love big time. He’s the bassist from YES. His music isn’t too similar to the band and quite masterly. Stranded on a beach, I would bring that album. I love the Portico Quartet/Cinematic orchestra.
For a tune I listen to when I work, I’d go with RED from King Crimson. LOL! Even John Coltrane would make the cut!
Follow Yanick Sasseville on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mrsassy_tattoos/