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Headless, Not Loveless: Interview with Nick Trotman

Headless, Not Loveless: Interview with Nick Trotman

Tattoo Artists5 min Read

In this interview with tattoo artist Nick Trotman, he talks about inclusivity and the power of community.

Buds burst forth from severed necks, their lilting leaves lifting up towards the sky in an embrace of the sun. Known for his headless Illustrative portraiture, Nick Trotman has a style that many people in the tattoo community are enamoured with. And it's easy to understand why: Nick's creations are wholeheartedly queer, inclusive, and diverse. The linework is expressive, organic, and perfectly finds a home on the natural curves of the body. There is clearly a lot of love, thought, and compassion put into this artwork. It's real, as is Nick himself; his is an authentic voice integral to the harmony and health of the contemporary tattoo scene.

In this interview, Nick Trotman was kind enough to give us some time to talk about the industry, how he got into tattooing, and what he adores most about being a working artist.

Can you give a little intro and background into who you are?

My name is Nicolas Trotman but I go by Nick. He/Him for pronouns, I am a black queer tattoo artist of two years now, level 26 in life living in Montreal Québec Canada. I like to identify myself as an introvert social butterfly who likes to drink orange wine, rewatch old shows from my childhood and enjoys good vibes.

How did you get into tattooing? Did you always know you wanted to be a tattooer or did you have other plans in mind?

I got into tattooing through my mentor Lindsay. She did a tattoo for me back in the day and I mentioned that I’ve always wanted to do tattooing since I got into high school. About two years ago, I told her that I’d be buying a machine and was very serious about this so, she decided to teach me her ways. I am very grateful to her and wouldn’t be in this industry without her.

How do you feel about the current state of the tattoo industry? What needs to change and what needs to stay the same?

Personally I find women, Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, QTBIPOC, are evolving this industry in a positive way, creating safe spaces for all bodies and skin types, shops and artists like myself. Where I am working at, the Co-op Crève Coeur, are setting a standard now to be this way: not accepting any form of hate whether it be racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, the list goes on. This is something that is changing in this industry compared to a few years ago. This industry was not accepting to a lot of body types and skin types; it still is currently to a certain extent but, like I said, it's changing for the good. The only thing I would say that needs to stay the same is the sense of community in this industry. Instagram has really improved the community a lot where you can be friends with artists all over the world and share knowledge.

Who do you feel are really evolving the tattoo community in positive ways? What artists inspire you artistically and philosophically?

I have a handful of artists that I met throughout my journey that inspire me on a daily basis but the ones that come to mind just for example is my mentor Lindsey, as well as Aisha Hadejia, Oba Jackson, Jalen Frizzell, Ink the Diaspora and Oya, who are all black tattoo artists that are jut, sorry for the language, FUCKING KILLING IT! Like, just seeing their work and just knowing that these people are in this industry who look like me says a lot for me and other black people which makes a huge impact, not to mention seeing Oba as a queer black man is even more representation and inspires me to want to do more in this field. I find these artists, and many more like them, who challenge the old ways of this industry through anti-racism, not putting up with any type of hate, doing the work to educate others; these are the ones who are evolving this industry. Also, I gotta give a shoutout to these other three artist who inspire me artistically Meagan, Mr. Lauder, and Giovanni. Such all unique styles which makes me think outside the box which leads me to trying new things that I wouldn’t have thought of.

There are many tattooers out there who say that richly melanated skin cannot be can we change their minds? Do you think artists like that will ever evolve to become more inclusive?

Richly melanated skin can be tattooed. Obviously, artists who think it can’t be are either used to tattooing only white skin which hinders their ability to evolve or they just choose not too, which is racist and ignorant of them. Like, do they realize that there’s more than just one skin type? But, at the same time, some techniques just don’t work on richly melanated skin because you need to take into consideration how it would heal. Yes, it might look good now but in a few years would it look the same with sun damage? But that is really not the clients who have richly melanated skin fault; it’s really up to the artist to have a style that works on all skin types.

I find the best way to change this for the people who think richly melanated skin cannot be tattooed is to educate them by example: showing different styles, different colour palettes that can be used on melanated skin, or showing them different people they should follow like Dark Skin Tattoo Tips! Other examples are to be honest with your clients: acknowledge that you have never tattooed richly melanated skin and would want to change this by giving a discount. Do your research on which colours can and can’t work depending on the clients skin tone and undertone. For example, the best way to do that is a colour test during a consultation, see how it heals then go from there. If you do only black and grey Realism and think it wouldn’t work just take a look at Oba Jackson...that’s all he does so you have no excuse. There are so many ways to improve yourself and to make yourself a lot more inclusive but supporting the lie of “it’s not doable to tattoo richly melanated skin” will just hinder knowledge and progression in this field.

What do you love about tattooing and what have been some of your favorite moments during your career?

The thing I love the most about tattooing is seeing the joy the clients express after getting a tattoo. Some clients aren’t comfortable with their bodies, which a lot of us struggle with including myself, so the fact that I can change a bit of that through giving them a tattoo they want just makes me appreciate my job a lot! Some of my favourite moments are vibing with some of my clients, making jokes, talking about life and just really what is on each others minds. Lastly, obviously, meeting new tattoo artists and developing new friendships with them.

Beyond tattooing, what are you super passionate about?

To be honest, other than tattooing, I’m pretty nerdy haha! I play some computer games with friends, perfect way to destress myself, trying to get back into DnD and debating on whether to start up with WoW again. Been mostly playing Nintendo Switch at the moment; just finished Legends of Zelda: Hyrule Castle and Breathe of the Wild.

Anything else you want to share or say to the world? Any cool future plans that we should know about?

Honestly, my future plans are basically to improve my style of tattooing, maybe do bigger pieces that take more than one session, I've been thinking about doing prints and selling original pieces and definitely tattoo in different cities. That is my major goals right now!!

Justine Morrow
Written byJustine Morrow

Social Producer, Journalist, Editor, and Curator for Tattoodo I am here to support you 🌻 IG: @lathe.of.heaven

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