Choosing a career can be difficult and overwhelming, but a 2019 graduate of Chateauguay Valley Regional High School (CVR), Annabelle Vaudrin, has recently discovered a new passion that has become an exciting career opportunity. She is now working as a tattoo artist at Salon HERA in Valleyfield.
Though she didn’t always know she wanted to be a tattoo artist specifically, she says she’s “always had an artistic side.” After graduating high school, she went to CEGEP at John Abbott where she studied graphic design. Vaudrin loved the program, but still wasn’t sure what she wanted to do once school was done. While there, she applied to work as an apprentice at Salon HERA; but at the time she was still in school as well as working for FedEx, and the timing just didn’t work out.
Vaudrin says she felt a lack of creative freedom due to the time she was devoting to her job at FedEx. “I was never drawing as much, and it was really hard on me,” she explains. Later, when she saw that Salon HERA was looking to hire tattoo artists with experience, Vaudrin decided to shoot them a message to see if they would still be open to providing apprenticeships. There was enough interest for the studio to open up interviews, and Vaudrin was one of four people selected for the apprenticeship program.
The first month of the program was devoted to teaching safety and sanitary practices: learning about the medical side of tattooing and how to prevent infection. Then, the apprentices moved on to drawing their own potential tattoo designs, but Vaudrin already had a good idea of her style. “I already had a lot of drawings because I’ve been drawing ever since I was young,” she says. The graphic design background also helped her excel at this.
About her style, Vaudrin says, “I’m really intuitive. A bit minimalistic, but I also have other [designs] that are a cartoonish style. It’s mostly all patchwork, like what I have on my body.” The first person she tattooed was herself; she says, “I wanted to make sure that I had the right depth of the needle. And I don’t want to have blowouts and stuff like that on my clients. I’m just such a perfectionist.” Vaudrin has now moved on to tattooing clients.
The studio where she works is a woman-owned business, though the tattoo world is traditionally dominated by men. Vaudrin emphasizes that having spaces where women can come and feel comfortable is extremely important. She says that at the studio, “We just want to spread the positivity.” She adds that the atmosphere makes people want to stay: “People come in and they’re in love with the shop and the environment.”
Vaudrin’s favourite part of the job is how it keeps her excited and passionate. Plus, getting to see how happy her clients are is a bonus: “My clients have the exact same excitement as me!”
Being a tattoo artist means that Vaudrin has control over when she works; it offers great flexibility. But it can also come with stress. “It’s scary sometimes, because clientele could go really low at one point and then boost at one point,” she explains. However, at the end of the day, it is worth it for Vaudrin to have those freedoms.
When she’s not tattooing, Vaudrin is still working on other projects where she is putting her graphic design experience to good use. But another passion project right now is organizing the summer basketball camps at CVR. Vaudrin played basketball throughout her time at the school and wants to give back and help other people have similar experiences. “Being involved in the community is really important,” she says. She now feels her life is more balanced, and getting to devote some of her time to other passions has made her feel like her life is really “coming together.”
Anyone can book a tattoo with Vaudrin now, and a better understanding of her style can be gained by checking out her Instagram account, @bellaa.inks. She also has a separate account for her graphic design, @designervaudrin.