A new business in Arcola means art in a permanent type-of-way.
Farmhand Tattoo is officially open for business and Carroll Brownridge is the owner. Brownridge, originally from Arcola, has returned home after years spent living in BC.
Brownridge, who started drawing back in high school, moved out to Whistler following graduation to experience a new world. While winter may have meant snowboarding, the off-season was when Brownridge's drawing of tattoos really began. "I started drawing up tattoos for my friends and myself and so that's kind of how it started."
But tattooing takes more than just the ability to draw, it takes years of practice. "There is no certification in Canada for tattooing. In the States there is, but in Canada, there's not. To make a go of it, you should do an apprenticeship. I was lucky enough to find someone to do my apprenticeship with in Squamish [BC]."
Brownridge started doing his apprenticeship when he was 21 years of age and has been tattooing ever since. He believes the opportunity to apprentice underneath a tattoo artist is an important part of developing as an artist. "Doing an apprenticeship is an opportunity to learn under someone that has been doing it for a number of years, and it helps you to evolve that much faster. If you just start on your own and try to learn by yourself, you are going to have way more mistakes and hardships."
That in itself is why Brownridge decided to apprentice for a full two years. "In two years, you probably do about 100 tattoos or so. But each apprenticeship is different, some are shorter than others. The guy that I was under wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing before I went out on my own, so I was able to apprentice under him for about two years."
Following his apprenticeship, Brownridge continued tattooing out west. It was only a couple of months ago when Brownridge decided it was time to make the move back to Arcola. "Over the last couple of years that I came back to visit and stuff, it felt more and more like home. I did a working trip back in the spring and I just figured that I would be tattooing some of my buddies, but the longer I stayed, the more I was tattooing people that I had never met before."
"So, I knew there was a good opportunity to do this here. And there are no other tattoo places around here. The closest would be in Weyburn, but then Qu'Appelle, Regina and Brandon."
One thing is for sure, Brownridge takes his role as a tattoo artist and the permanency of the art, seriously. "There are certain circumstances where I won't do a tattoo. I won't tattoo anyone under 18, regardless of whether they have parental consent or not. Between 16 and 18, your mind is going to change. And you can still get the tattoo when you are 18."
The other circumstance where Brownridge won't do a tattoo is when he gets a request to tattoo the names of boyfriends, girlfriends, or spouses. He said that lots of times, they end up getting covered up. "You can also tell when speaking with someone whether it is a spontaneous spur-of-the moment type of tattoo, so I won't do those either."
Brownridge puts a lot of care and thought into his tattoos and he recommends that his clients do as well. "Really put some thought into it. The longer they think about it and the more research they do into their idea, the better the tattoo is going to come out, the more they are going to like it and the happier they are going to be."
For those that have never had a tattoo before, the consultation process is the first step. "For custom tattoos, they'll come in for a consultation and we'll go over everything that they want in the tattoo. Then they'll usually ask me to throw in something to make it my style. And so I will then do a drawing and show them the line work. If they are happy with that, I'll go ahead and put some colour into it. If they aren't happy with the line work, then I'll go back to the drawing board. Sometimes it will take three of four drawings to make sure it is something that they are happy with. It is definitely something you don't want to rush because it is on them for the rest of their life."
That ever-so-important consultation process takes part right in Brownridge's shop. Located inside Colour Me Crazy Hair Salon on Main Street in Arcola, Brownridge already has a number of clients lined up. Tattooing is by appointment only at this point, and you can get in touch with Carroll at 306-575-8655 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for the name, Farmhand tattoo? "I grew up as the son of a farmer and had done some farming before I left here. My dad still farms here and my brother farms, so it was something that meant something to me."