Located in the heart of the Mile End in Montreal, Minuit Dix is a queer, female-owned, bilingual studio that prioritizes LGBTQ+ and POC safety and comfort. The shop was started by Muriel de Mai in March of 2017, and has since been focused on creating a safe space for its clients, taking a stance against racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, slut-shaming, fat-shaming, and any other discriminatory behavior.
The private studio is located in the Pi2 lofts, an association that actively fights against the gentrification occurring in the Mile End neighborhood. It’s a studio that also uses vegan ink to lessen their environmental impact, and tries to reduce waste and pollution as much as possible.
Beginning as an illustrator in Paris, Mai got into tattooing when a friend asked her to fill in part-time at a tattoo shop that she was working at. She learned to tattoo a range of styles for walk-in clients, and has since developed a distinct style of her own. “I’ve always been inspired by portraits of women from the 1930s to 1960s, but when I think about it a lot of my work is inspired by my mother,” Mai says.
“I love to play with the contrast between [black ink and empty space on the skin] when designing tattoos.” Since Minuit Dix is a private studio, where you have to make an appointment beforehand, clients are always interested in their chosen artist’s style. This has allowed Mai and the other artists at the shop to focus on developing their personal approach, instead of relying on tattoo trends and walk-in clients. Mai states that her clients will often connect to her style because of the poetic and nostalgic quality that it holds.
While speaking to Mai about why she started Minuit Dix, she emphasized that it was essential to make it a safe space from the start, and to continually check in to ensure that they are upholding their values. “I wanted the studio to be an inclusive, and respectful space from the beginning,” she explains. “The artists and their work had to be aligned with the values of the shop, and there had to be mutual respect for and from everyone.”
Across all platforms, be it Instagram, email, or in the shop, Minuit Dix wants their clients to feel respected by their team. The shop itself is filled with natural light and is decorated with various plants, as well as art by artists who identify as queer, non-binary, womxn and POC. The Minuit Dix team holds monthly staff meetings to check in on improving their accountability as individual artists as well as a whole, and are continually working on more ways to make their guests feel welcome.
Mai and her team also understand how nerve-wracking it can be to book a tattoo appointment, which is why they ensure that every interaction they have with their clients is kind and respectful. They want their clients to feel listened to, and comfortable asking questions about the tattoo process and aftercare. Whether they need advice on placement, colour, or choosing a design, the Minuit Dix team is there to provide inclusive and comprehensive information to better inform their clients’ tattoo decisions.
“Communication is essential among the artists who work there, and between the artist and the client,” Mai continues. “I want the studio to be able to have open and respectful communication so that we can learn from each other. I’m not a perfect shop owner, but it’s important for me to create an environment where the artists working here can tell me what could be improved, and how we can be better as a studio.”
Minuit Dix is currently home to the following artists: