After almost 20 years of tattooing, it’s safe to say that Christian Lanouette has seen it all. Lanouette opened Sans Regret two years ago in Montreal, as an expansion of the clothing and accessories company that he runs with his wife. The shop is located in the Plateau amongst restaurants and coffee shops, making walk-ins accessible for anyone in the neighborhood.
It’s a studio founded on the principle that, above all, it’s essential to stay humble and be respectful of everyone, no matter their background.
Lanouette began his career as a tattoo artist the same way many others have, by tattooing his friends and fellow skaters. In the beginning, he would tattoo whatever was asked of him. “It’s funny actually, the ‘ignorant style’ that’s become more popular recently on Instagram was what I was tattooing when I first started out,” he explains. “Everything comes around in cycles. At that time the American Traditional style was on the way out, and minimal drawings were in style.”
While his personal style has changed over time, he is best known for his minimal black line work. He works primarily from his flash sheet but is also open to custom work when he thinks it would be a good fit. He said it took him a few years to feel like he had his technique down.
In terms of inspiration, there was a tattoo magazine that came in the mail once a month, but other than that, he looked to his community. When speaking about his learning experience, he recommended that anyone starting out as a tattoo artist should involve themselves in their own, local community.
“You learn so much from others, whether you’re tattooing them, or being tattooed yourself,” he says. “Having a range of experiences from various artists helps you learn how to improve your technique, and gives you a better understanding of how to tattoo different kinds of people.” In terms of preference of tattoo styles, he says that he’s open to everything, as long as the tattoo itself is done properly. “You don’t need to tattoo in one particular style or to work in a shop to be considered a professional, but it is essential to understand the technical aspects of tattooing well.”
When asked what he would recommend to a first-time client, he says that having a good reference image is key. “Don’t overthink it,” he continues. “It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you try to fit a ton of symbolism into one tattoo, especially if it’s your first. Starting with something simple is always best.” Lanouette also recommends going to an artist whose style will suit your concept or imagery.
He also advises walk-in clients to flip through the shop’s flash books to get a sense of the work on offer or, if they’re not in Montreal, to check out the Sans Regret Instagram.
While he was assembling the initial team for the shop, he looked for artists who worked in a range of styles and techniques. The Sans Regret team has grown over the years, but is still a relatively small shop, hosting around eight artists at a time, with room for a guest artist. It is currently home to the following: