We Interviewed Toronto Based Artist Mike Mendes and asked him 5 Important Questions:
1)How long have you been tattooing? And what was the main reason behind the choice to be a tattooer?
10 years. I can't do anything else. Makes me think about this old boxer interview where he gets asked what he'd be doing if he wasn't boxing and his answer was "Probably robbing your house". Life before tattooing was a dead end for me.
2) What was your journey to your current style? Who inspires you?
I completely respect classic traditional tattooing, and could happily tattoo it for the rest of my life, but I still like branching out to new ideas and incorporating them into the traditional style. If I were to have to sum up a 10-year-work-in-progress I suppose I'd say I've tried to learn as much as I can from everyone I've ever worked with, everywhere. It has been and still is one of the ways I find I learn the most and push myself the most - Traveling and working in different shops, in different countries, with different artists. As homogenized as tattooing seems these days, it can be pretty amazing ending up somewhere and seeing something genuinely different and special being created. There's hopefully still some magic left to be found in tattooing beyond scrolling through little photos on Instagram.
3) What was the first tattoo you did on someone else?
One of the guys teaching me tattoo flipped out on 3 guys that each wanted a row of 4-5 Kanji characters down their backs. I sort of remember them maybe giving him a bit of a hard time then he pretty much yelled at everyone in the room and said "This is bullshit, you do it, Mendes" then slammed the door and left.
4) Do you think there are challenges in being a tattoo artist?
Of course. I don't think it would be as fulfilling otherwise. If you're not feeling challenged then you're probably just not pushing yourself hard enough and you'll just end up being boring and treading water. I can't even swim so fuck that. I'd probably rather just flail about in whichever direction all wild coughing up water. At least you're trying something different that way. What a weird analogy. Maybe that makes sense. Maybe I can't make analogies either.
5) Favourite thing about being a tattoo artist?
I've spent my entire career living and working in countries I would have never even imagined being able to set foot in when I was a kid. I pretty much owe everything I've been able to learn and experience in this world to tattooing. If I were to have to choose a single thing out of it all as a favourite, then I'd probably say connecting with other people wherever I end up. It's pretty wild thinking that at the end of the day you've potentially impacted someone's life in a sometimes extreme (and hopefully positive) way. The pressure of that is one of the more challenging aspects as well I guess. Definitely something that can keep you up at night. But when you pull it off, it's nice making people happy and then feeling genuine appreciation for something you put a lot of work into.
HUGE THANK YOU Mike for sharing this with us.
You can find Mike's work on Instagram @mikemendes
For appointments contact: Mikemendestattoos@gmail.com