It’s no surprise that Marc Bonin comes from a family of artists and starts every single morning with some drawing time—and a good cup of coffee, of course. The tattooer works out of Loveless Tattoo in the Plateau neighborhood of Montreal, where they have a studio in the back just for drawing and painting, no needles allowed.
Over the past few years, Bonin has become well-known in the scene for his delicate, silhouette-based style—one that could be argued is a cross between minimalism and sketch—while amassing almost 100,000 devoted followers on Instagram. Leafing through the sketchbooks that he keeps at the studio, though, it’s easy to see how effortlessly he’s able to translate his sketches to skin with his linework. Here, the minimalism master talks about his first tattoo, whether getting inked still hurts when you have as many tattoos as he does, and the most important component of a good client experience.
On his tattooing style: “My style has always been very linear and structured. I tried a few different styles at first, including neotraditional and lettering, but I was always drawn to minimalism. It’s changed a lot since I first started, but it’s in constant evolution.”
“I remember exactly when it began developing into what it is now. I was working on a half-sleeve with a client. He had sent me a reference for his project that really sparked my imagination. I sat down to try to express what I was envisioning, and a couple of tries later, I came up with the design that led me to where I am today. It’s far from what I do now, but it really started that artistic growth for me.”
“I’ve been drawing since I was a child, and have always loved art. I studied architecture, and I was planning to be an architect, but life decided otherwise.”
On art and illustration, and growing up as an artist: “Art has always been a part of my life. I grew up with a very creative background. My mother is a music teacher, painter, and pianist. My dad is a carpenter and plays bass, and one of my uncles is a painter as well. I’ve been drawing since I was a child, and have always loved art. I studied architecture, and I was planning to be an architect, but life decided otherwise. I also do photography, videography, and play the guitar, too.”
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On his first time: “I first got tattooed when I was around 21 years old. It was two small words on my bicep. I was in school at the time, and so I wanted to keep it discreet. My girlfriend at the time hated tattoos, but I really wanted to do it. I made an appointment, got tattooed, and managed to hide it from her for as long as I could. She was studying in another city, so we only saw each other on weekends. I kept up the charade for maybe two or three weeks.When she eventually found out, she literally started crying.”
On his pain tolerance: “I used to get tattooed every month. Now I do far less frequently. But I’ve found that the more tattoos I get, the more painful it is—and I definitely don’t have the same patience I used to for the process. ” (Ed. note: Here are six of our best tips to get through tattoo pain.)
On his best client: “Tattooing my father was really special. It was probably one of the most stressful tattoos I had done at the time. The design was simple, but there’s something about tattooing friends and relatives that makes it way more stressful. I’m very thankful that my parents are supportive of the lifestyle I chose.”
“I personally prefer larger-scale projects… I would love to experiment [more], creating pieces that use the whole body as a canvas. I just love the impact that it has.”
On what he wants to do more of: “I personally prefer larger-scale projects like this recent back piece I did. In the future, I would love to experiment, creating pieces that use the whole body as a canvas. I just love the impact that it has.”
On having a good experience at any shop: “Good communication with the client is essential. It’s very important to make sure that they feel comfortable. The more trust and freedom a client gives, the better the tattoo will be. I’m not talking about the technical aspect of the tattoo, but more in an artistic sense. Most important of all is good music.”