Interview with Robin Labreche

Here's our first artist interview, Robin Labreche


How did you get into tattooing? What would you say your background is?
I've wanted to tattoo since I was 14 years old.  This was before Miami Ink, so tattooing wasn't anywhere near as popular as it is today.  I tried to get in, but the few that were fortunate enough to be in the industry were less than thrilled to help some teenager become their competition.  Then when I was 18, I went into a shop to get a piercing and was offered a job doing reception.  I worked for $3 an hour for 2 years, then I started my apprenticeship. 
You’ve won many awards for your works (congratulations) was there one in particular which was humbling?
Thanks!  It's hard to say.  It's a tie between Halifax Tattoo of the Day and Toronto Small AND Medium Black and Grey.
In Halifax I went up against 3 of my idols, I was so sure that I stood no chance that I even left and went back to the hotel.  The tattoo was on my fiance, and she REALLY wanted to enter it, so I was like:" FINE...we'll go and you'll see.  You're gonna feel pretty stupid when we don't win!"...and we won.
In Toronto, the tattoos were both also on my fiance.  They had SOOO many people in the category, she stood in line for nearly 2 hours in total.  I wasn't even listening I was so sure I had no chance.  When they announced the winner, it was someone at the booth next to me who yelled "Rob, you won!" So I went up to get my award.  When I got back to my booth, I was thanking people, then someone grabbed me and said: "Dude, you won again!"  So I ran back to the stage to collect my second award.  It was so surreal.  And the icing on the cake was one of the judges was Filip Leu.  That felt pretty good.
You mainly do black and grey realism, do you enjoy any other particular style? 
Honestly, I LOVE black and grey realism.  But I also really enjoy script.  I'm getting more into custom writing. I have a few projects in the works to do a combination of realism and mandala/dot work.  So keep checking my Instagram!
Do you practice any other mediums of art?
Owning a business takes up SO MUCH FUCKING TIME AND ENERGY!  That should answer that.
What products do you mainly use/are true to?
I switched to cartridges about 4 years ago.  I'm very tight with the guys at F Y T, they're great at what they do, and they take my advice when ever I give it.  Which I feel is important if you want to succeed in any business.  (Props to you guys as well for taking my advice when I give it!)
Tell us about your process? Do you free hand your images directly on clients, or use any of the new artist tablets on the market, or are you more of a classic paper and pen?
Photo. Shop.  Without it, there would be no realism artists!  Except for maybe 2 or 3 people in Europe.  I freehand my backgrounds a lot, clouds, flowers, petals, or negative space.  But the bulk of my reference is put together in Photoshop.
Many apprenticeships end, tell us about your apprenticeship? And do you have any words of encouragement?
My apprenticeship was pretty shit.  For my first tattoo, my mentor watched my first line then said: "Okay, call me if you need me".  2 years in he admitted that he stopped showing me anything new 'cause he was scared that I would get better than him.  I've been tattooing for 12 or 13 years.  But to be honest, the first 6 or 7 was almost entirely self taught.  Or I learned what I could from the other artists I worked with, who also had no real apprenticeships.  It's only once I left to open my studio that I started going to conventions and meeting other artists from around the world that I began to learn what I can do today (which is still shit...I know nothing!)
Words of encouragement?  Honestly, I'm sick of the new generation of 'artists'.  If they aren't a full fledged tattoo artist after 6 months, they're whining and complaining.  After 4 months of tattooing they're refusing projects, because they're 'beyond' that.  No, you're not beyond anything, you're an apprentice, shut up and tattoo the infinity sign, and be grateful that this person is willing to trust you with something that is for life, and that you are being paid for!  
Respect.  That's what's lacking in this industry.  Respect, and humility.  Be humble, respect this incredible industry.  Respect your mentor, or shop owner.  Respect the artists who have been tattooing for 1 or 5 or 10 or 25 years longer than you.  Even if you're better than them.  Respect your clients, most of whom are ignorant of the infinite wisdom in your super smart brain!
What are your thoughts of the industry today and where it’s going in the future?
I think I just touched on what I think of artists today....I foresee the industry following suit.  
And how does the tattoo culture affect your personal life? 
Aside from taking up 10 to 14 hours of my day 5 to 7 days a week...not much. ;)

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