A Week in Tattoo Art: @dirtyl00ks

By no means experts in the ancient tradition of tattooage, we have never-the-less selected some of our favorite artists working with the medium at the moment. This week, we highlight a handful of the many talents making work at the intersection of visual art and body modification. Check back daily to see tattoo and flash works from artists turning their untraditional designs into eternal mementos.


Where are you from and what do you do?

My name is Emerik Derome. I’m from Montreal. I’m currently doing a BFA in graphic design plus doing tattoo in my free time as a job/passion.

How did you get into tattoo art?

I got into tattoo when I was 13-years-old. My neighbor had car/bike magazines and there were always pictures of dudes with tribal sleeves and weird colorful tattoos. I immediately fell in love with the concept, even though my dad, being a cop, really hated tattoos. As much as he hated Eminem, lol.

What was your first tattoo?

My first tattoo was when I was 15, pretty young. I went into the local tattoo shop in this suburban town where I used to live. I got a pretty bold and big peace sign on the back of my wrist cause I thought I was hippie, ahah. I got it covered up by just a big black circle, it’s my only cover up.

Do you tattoo your own body? If yes, what tattoos have you given yourself?

Yes, I tattoo my own body. That’s how I started mostly, by tattooing friends and everyone at parties. When I met my girlfriend Antonina, she had no tattoos, and now she’s basically covered—hands, arms, legs. I’ve practiced a lot on her. No pressure though, she just asked me one time if I wanted to tattoo her and we got addicted. I gave myself too many, it’d be hard to tell. I like tattooing myself best, it hurts less than if someone else does it, lol. It just takes way more time because you don’t go as deep and you try to stop from hurting yourself.

Do you have or have you given any tattoos you regret?

I don’t believe in having regrets over stuff like tattoos, I think they are all interesting, even if they are bad for some peoples, who cares. Of course, people are gonna probably regret some tattoos over time, but it still defines a certain part of your life, that you were into or feeling this certain thing when you got it tattooed. I guess the only one I wish I didn’t have is this big cartoonish maneki-neko cat on my thigh. But hey, it’s not the end of the world.


What is it about tattooing that appeals over other forms of visual art?

I guess the appeal of tattooing is the relationship you develop with clients. You get to know people a lot. They come back all the time, talk about whatever is happening in their life. I’ve told my life stories a thousand times. It’s an intimate process that I feel you don’t really find in classic tattoo parlor, where its mostly gonna be noisy and full of people. I normally have only one client at a time, no one waiting, everyone has the time they need. The community is also really amazing. I went to New York and Toronto this summer to tattoo at some person’s studio that I had never met in my life, just buddies on Instagram. I slept there and tattooed there for free, and I’ve done the same for other DIY artists of course. We all have our backs and support each other.

Do you consider your work to be political?

I don’t really consider my work to be political. The only way it could be, is that I don’t believe in the monopoly that old school tattoo have over everything. They hate DIY artist, want free apprenticeship and charge a shit ton. I like tattoo to be affordable for everyone and give back the tools to the people.

Are there any themes you work with regularly?

I work a lot with dogs, angels, cherubs and weird mythological stuff. I do a lot of animal portraits; people send me their dog pics and I’ll draw it in my way. It’s mostly classic mythological stuff I would say, I love the drawing to be kinda complicated but simple at the same time and I’m starting to incorporate more dotty shading lately and trying to work on bigger piece. I just did Antonina a big back piece.

Are there any artists or movements now or in the history of tattooing that inspire you?

The movement that inspires me the most is definitely the DIY scene that is happening right now. Montreal is kinda slow on that but Toronto and New York have amazing artists at the moment. I try to go a lot to trade and hang with people there. There’s a new generation of artists that do their own styles and don’t wanna hear about traditional tattooing Americana style. Of course, doing that mean you get a lot of shit from old school artists that don’t like the newcomers because they don’t follow the traditional rules or have weird “hipster” style like they call it. I think like anything in art, it’s just a different style. Classical painting is not better than abstract, it’s just different, that’s it. Same thing for tattooing.

What is your most meaningful tattoo?

My most meaningful tattoo, that’s a hard one. I normally just let the artist do what they feel like doing. I guess it’s my brother’s nickname, Stud, that Antonina did on me, her only tattoo. I wish my brother would have done it but he’s not into that, haha. It’s a weird nickname that I gave him ever since we were kids and I have no idea where it actually came from. But my mom and dad picked it up with time and soon everyone was calling him Stud, even though his name is Jordan.


See our full Week in Tattoo Art here :)