Charline Bataille is dedicated to creating a safe space for their clients. Take a quick scroll through their Instagram page, and you’ll notice that their tattoos often touch on subjects like the queer experience, fatness, and depression—subjects that still fail to be portrayed regularly and respectfully in popular media. Wanting to change that, and to provide clients with relatable content, is what drives Bataille to create tattoo designs they describe as “queer propaganda” done in a “creepy-kitschy-cute” aesthetic.
Over the past four years of tattooing, the Montreal-based artist—they’re a resident at Minuit Dix tattoo studio—has really honed their colorful, cartoony style. And this week, Bataille has traveled from Montreal to Toronto where they’re the latest guest artist at our very own Inside Out studio. Here, they talk to us about their favorite kinds of clients, the things they can’t live without, and the need for more inclusive spaces in the tattoo community.
“We were all about dumpster diving, fermenting our own beer, and skill-sharing in general, so I didn’t really think twice about finding a DIY solution for getting weird, queer, quirky tattoos.”
On their journey to becoming a tattooer: “Back when [I started tattooing four years ago], I didn’t have the money to get as many tattoos as I wanted, so I naively thought, ‘I’ll just do it myself!’ I was orbiting around punk queers and was fully immersed in DIY culture at the time. We were all about dumpster diving, fermenting our own beer, and skill-sharing in general, so I didn’t really think twice about finding a DIY solution for getting weird, queer, quirky tattoos, too. Thankfully, other artists helped teach me about proper hygiene, technique, and safety, and soon enough, Minuit Dix was allowing me to tattoo and learn more in their space.
So to be honest, I haven’t found my tattoo journey to be difficult. I’m reminded of this especially when I hear stories of my friends who work, or have worked, in more traditional shops. I’ve only ever worked in queer and safe spaces, and I can say without a doubt, that my journey has been idyllic.”
On not striving for perfection in their art: “I have a natural laissez-faire about details and precision that, in some other areas of life is definitely a downside, but in my art it has been helping me. I think unapologetically accepting my lack of patience and lack of commitment to detail and perfection is a big part of my style.”
“I think unapologetically accepting my lack of patience and lack of commitment to detail and perfection is a big part of my style.”
On their favorite kinds of clients: “The freak nerds! Like when I tattooed a marine biologist and they told me all about weird ancient water animals, or art history nerds who can tell me in great length about a piece we’re tattooing. I also really enjoyed tattooing a client who was traveling the world and asking all of their favorite tattoo artists to tattoo a self-portrait on them.”
On the greatest perk of the job: “I get to draw for a living! Even if sometimes it’s really hard to be a creative as your sole income, it is such a privilege to be able to work on yourself, self-expression, and creative growth as a job.”
On the need for better, safer, more inclusive spaces in the tattoo community: “I’m really not an expert [on inclusivity], but some things feel obvious to me. First, tattooers need to educate themselves on HIV stigma, stop forcing HIV disclosure, and stop discriminating based on HIV status. Tattooers need to start not only respecting people with HIV, but caring for them.
“Tattooers need to stop shaming fat people—and to stop prioritizing their designs and their pristine Instagram photos over their clients’ well-being and agency.”
Tattooers also need to stop shaming fat people for their bodies, and stop prioritizing their designs and their pristine Instagram photos over their clients’ well-being and agency. A tattoo is in the skin, so we should embrace that skin with its cellulite, stretch marks, and all. We need to realize that all skin is beautiful. All skin is a perfect canvas for a tattoo. If you need your design to be on a skinny white person to love what you do and see it as worthy art, then you’re a jerk and it’s time to deconstruct and rebuild your idea of what’s beautiful.”
On the things they can’t live without: “Over the past five years, I’ve changed a lot. I’m now sober and recovering from many addictions; things that I once thought I couldn’t live without. So, I want to think there isn’t anything I can’t live without. Perhaps if you didn’t mean this question so literally, though, I’d say bubbly water, the sweet touch of my boo, and dog park afternoons!”
On advice to new tattooers: “Take no shit and do no harm, all art can be good art, tracing is still drawing, you do you!”
If you liked our profile on Charline Bataille, make sure to check our feature on How Tattoo studios Are Becoming Safe Spaces.