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Saskatoon, Canada may not immediately come to mind as a hotbed of the tattooing world, but Rebecca Blair’s outstanding neotraditional work is quickly changing that. Blair works in both color and black-and-grey, but it is in that space between the two styles that her work really stands out. Her refined black-and-grey lady head portraits are often accessorized with beautiful flourishes of color that pop off the skin.

How did you start tattooing?

A local shop owner in my city contacted me after seeing my drawings online and asked me to bring a portfolio to his shop. I asked my retail boss if I could take an early lunch break, grabbed as many drawings as I could find and went down to the tattoo shop. I had an apprenticeship half an hour after receiving the initial message.

What was your first shop experience like?

My mentor was fantastic. A good mix of wanting to see me succeed, but also a lot of old-school mentality as far as grunt work and drawing went. He pushed me quite hard to make me better, and although at the time I didn’t appreciate it, I now can see why he did that and am grateful for it. There was a lot of tension at the shop, and I ultimately ended up finishing my apprenticeship at a secondary shop, where I still am today.

Do you have any special training?

I went to “art school” when I was young, which essentially was an hour a week that we as kids would pick out a photo, draw it, and the teacher would come around twice for a minute to tell us what we did wrong. It was a very expensive hour of practice, basically.

What conventions have you done recently or are planning to do this year?

I had to skip a couple of normal ones this year due to having some tattoo appointments for myself booked, but next year I plan on doing Saskatoon, Okanagan, Winnipeg (August one) and Austin Tattoo Invitational.

What brought you to work in black-and-grey? I do a bit of color, but my preference is black-and-grey because I originally started as a pencil portrait artist, so defining value with one tone is something I find comes quite easily to me.

What are the major differences between color and b/g pieces?

Color requires more thought as to which colors you put down first, which blend well together, where to wipe so you don’t wipe a dark color over a light. Basically just more forethought.

When do you ever find yourself using color?

I like doing selective color mixed with black-and-grey throughout an entire piece. For example, doing a lady face where the skin tone and hair are a grey wash and the flowers and accessories are in a solid color.

What inspires you as an artist?

Music and other artists. There’s nothing quite like hearing a song that makes you picture an image or emotion, or guesting/doing a convention surrounded by people doing what they love and creating beautiful art. It not only inspires you, but makes you want to improve and keep learning.

What sets you apart from other artists?

I think I’ve found a style in neotraditional that is different from other neotrad artists. In a tight-knit community of phenomenal artists, specifically ones who tattoo lots of lady face tattoos, I think I have a slightly different way of drawing my faces than everyone I’ve come across, which I like because all of the lady face artists I admire all draw faces differently and I love that about them.

What other mediums do you work in? Pencils, markers, watercolor, acrylics and digital are the main ones.

How have you branched out from tattooing?

I used to hate painting and now I love it.