Tattooing has come naturally to Estelle Dalgalarrondo, aka @endurancepastel, thanks to its similarities to her longtime hobby of embroidery. While she admits sticking a needle and thread into a piece of fabric is very different from poking a needle dipped in ink into skin, the French artist approaches both kinds of projects in the same way: She starts with flash drawings, helps clients find a design they love, and then sits down to work.
As our latest guest artist at Inside Out studio in Toronto, Estelle Dalgalarrondo will be tattooing her minimal, curvy, feminine designs here until October 25th. While in town, she chatted with us about why she chose hand poking over machine tattooing, the evolving public perception of tattoos, and her favorite parts of the job.
On becoming a tattooer: “Two years ago, after I graduated from university with a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design [she went to École des Beaux-Arts in Lorient, France], I spent a few months in San Francisco. Even though I studied graphic design, I always preferred paper over the computer; drawing over software, so once finished my studies I tried to make a living off my embroidery work. In San Francisco I showed my embroidery at shops and galleries to find new clients. I would set up my supplies and bring pages of designs for people to choose from. It was basically flash designs for embroidering. One day someone mentioned that I might like tattooing and when I realized I already had a flash book I figured I would try it out.
First I tried to tattoo on myself and then I got some of my friends together and practiced on them. I’m self-taught but I’ve also learned a lot from other artists I’ve spent time with over the past two years. Now I work out of Bonne Fortune studio in Belgium, but I also travel often for guests spots. After my week in Toronto, my next guest spots will be in my Bordeaux, where I grew up, and then in London.”
On her favorite thing about her job: “I love drawing new designs every day. The people are also one of the best parts—tattooing them and getting to share my art with them. Watching a person choose one of my designs touches me so much. That’s one of the things that drives me to draw without stopping.”
On challenging herself with more difficult designs: “To an outsider, my style hasn’t really changed since I started tattooing. But when I take a look again at my first tattoos and my first flash books I see the evolution. I try to find new things to draw and I play with bigger, more complex compositions now that I’m more comfortable with the hand poke techniques.”
On advice to new tattooers: “Find your style, draw every day, enjoy the process, and do your best!”
On choosing to hand poke over using a machine: “I hand poke because I also embroider by hand. The link between the two techniques is strong because both involve moving a single needle with the hand, and also because all my flash is available as a tattoo or as embroidery. My clients can choose between having the designs tattooed on their skin or embroidered on a garment.”
On her favorite artist at the moment: “It’s definitely Paloma Wool. Her project [it’s a mix of apparel and photography] is centered around the act of getting dressed. I’ve been following her since she first started and I’m really impressed with the constant evolution of her work. At the beginning it was only drawing and painting, but now she designs a lot of clothing as well.”
On the public perception of tattoos: “I feel like today tattooing speaks to more and more people. More people have tattoos now and clients are starting to care a lot about their artists’ unique styles. People, especially here in Canada and in the United States, are more open and accepting of tattoos. The people in Europe are a bit more closed off and aren’t as accepting of people with tattoos, but it’s changing there too.”
On her average customer: “Mainly women and kind people.”
If you liked our profile on Estelle Dalgalarrondo, who is visiting the Inside Out studio in Toronto, make sure to check out the story behind our resident artist, Curt Montgomery.