Interview by Jason Setnyk | Photo by Jason McNamara
Cornwall, Ontario – Simon Ackroyd is a versatile tattoo artist and owner of Olde Tyme Tattoo in downtown Cornwall. Originally from the area, he is an award-winning artist who has worked in multiple shops, been published in international tattoo magazines, regularly travels for guest spots, and represents Cornwall nationally at many tattoo conventions. He also regularly paints tattoo flash that can be found in tattoo shops worldwide and brings the American custom street shop style to our community.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – How did you get started in the tattoo industry?
“I started the wrong way when I was 13. I made my first tattoo in a friend’s bedroom. Since then, I always knew I wanted to be the man who makes the marks. I struggled with trying to do it on my own and wanting to do it professionally for a long time. The dream seemed so unattainable! It wasn’t until I went through a traditional American apprenticeship in 2010 under Chris Lawrence at Olde Tyme Tattoo, who was then in Malone, NY. He was kind enough to take me under his wing and show me the better aspects of the craft.”
2 – What inspires your tattoo designs and art?
“I’m really into tattoo history; I read a lot. I’m just a tattoo nerd. So, I love the classic styles of tattooing. I truly feel that traditional styles are the top class of tattooing as they never get outdated or out of style and look great on skin. It’s tried and tested over seasonal trends. But I do like most forms of illustrative tattooing. I try to be versatile in most styles. I love making tattoos that fit the body. I like strong tattoos. Bold black lines, black shading, bright colours, dynamic compositions, and simple subject hierarchy. I often disobey light sources intentionally in an old school approach to create a more effective impact.”
3 – How do you work with clients to design custom tattoos that meet their needs and preferences?
“Well, first, I believe that tattooing someone is highly personal. I find it essential that potential clients visit the shop to discuss ideas. I’m not with the internet. So much that I do requires firsthand discussion. When a client comes in, I can see the space and read the skin. Discuss what’s important to them. I’m feeling out what they like and what they don’t. I’m sorting it out in my head variables and discussing options. I’m getting on the level quickly as to the vibe of tattooing and their aesthetic after.”
4 – What are the last-minute preparations on the day of starting the tattoo?
“Typically, I will show up early on the day of an appointment and draw it then. If not, when they show up so I can get immediate feedback to redraw it right. It’s a collaboration between us. I’ll often chase down my clients a week before to get more information if I need to. We make tattoos, we don’t just do them.”
5 – What are some common misconceptions about tattooing that you would like to dispel?
“That we just trace your cellphone screenshots and are here just to take your money. We believe in providing options and education over sales tactics, and we live off good vibes and treating people honestly. We have so many great artists in our community. Many of us are actually friends who talk regularly, and we inspire each other because we all work in different styles and are amazing people. As much as clients need to research who tattoos them, we also direct or refer to those that rip up the category thereafter. Everybody wins. People get better tattoos and great experiences, promoting an even better tattoo culture.”
To see samples of Simon’s work, follow Olde Tyme Tattoo on Facebook.