An Interview with Tattoo Artist – Mikey Charette

John Dietrich

We are stoked to welcome one of Canada’s top tattoo artists, Mikey Charette, to the Custom Tattoo Design team. Mikey is the new Art Director for Custom Tattoo Design. He will be ensuring that all the tattoos our clients get are not only beautifully designed, but also tattooable. We wanted to get to know Mikey a little bit and he was willing to put up with some questions.

Introducing Mikey Charette

What’s your name? What do you do at Custom Tattoo Design? Where are you from?

Mikey Charette. I help artists create designs with the customer’s needs in mind. I guide artists towards a design that has more flow and cohesiveness. I can help with anatomy and posing problems artists may have as well as making sure cover ups will work. My main goal with Custom Tattoo Design is making sure every client gets an awesome tattoo design.

I’m originally from the Ottawa region in Ontario, Canada, but I currently work in Toronto at Carte Blanche Tattoo Studio and Art Gallery.

How did you get started in the tattoo industry?

One of my cousins had suggested I tattoo him after seeing my art portfolio. He had machines and wanted me to give it a go. I told him that I would practise on pig skins at home and when I felt confident, I would tattoo him. After that initial experience, I found an apprenticeship in the city of Aylmer, Québec. Since then, I have never looked back.

What is your favourite part of being a tattoo artist?

I love interpreting my client’s vision and making it my own. The client rarely has a clear-cut idea of what they want and this is where my creativity gets to take over and I pitch them my vision of their idea. I suggest a style that I think will fit best and then sketch up a rough draught with them. It’s always fun seeing them light up as I breathe life into the tattoo.

I love the whole process, from start to finish. It inspires me to continuously get better at my craft.

Do you have a favourite style to tattoo and if so, what is it and why?

At the moment I love two distinct styles of tattoos that are my own.

  1. I do portraiture that is fused with bold linework, negative space and saturated tones.
  2. I love doing my comic book style on people. It’s something I don’t get to do often, but as I am a comic fan and have been since I was 10, it just fills me with delight whenever I get to do them on people.

What’s the worst tattoo you’ve ever seen?

There are so many bad tattoos out there, and I have had to fix or even cover them up entirely many, many, times over. One bad one that comes to mind, it may be the worst I have ever seen, not in execution but in subject matter. Let’s just say it was X-Rated and took up a full back. The client wanted it covered but didn’t want to go over a $1000 budget. Needless to say, he is still walking around with his poor decision on his back. Cover-ups are the most difficult projects to attempt and they take lots of skill and time to do.

It’s why getting a design upfront makes so much sense. See what you want before you get stuck walking around with it forever.

Is there an artist, tattoo or otherwise, you look up to/respect?

There are many artists I look up to and all for different reasons. I love my friend Federica, her linework is bar none. She amazes me with her precision and skill. Valentina is a Russian artist, and her portraiture is so skillfully done that she blows my mind every time I see her work. Her portraits always look like a master’s painting from the Renaissance period. My mother also has a big influence on me. She can pick up a different painting technique or different mediums and, in a matter of days, make you believe she had been perfecting it for a lifetime. I have her very first oil painting hanging in my bedroom (it’s only three years old). I am not even close to her level of skill.

What do you like to do when you aren’t tattooing?

If I’m not tattooing, I love building and renovating. I renovated my daughter’s room and our kitchen. I’ve built a hidden Murphy bed in our living room. It looks like a wall-sized armoire and storage unit complete with shelves on either side. But try and open the two main doors and you will quickly realize that things aren’t what they seem.

Can you talk about some of your tattoos and why you got them?

I always tell my clients that tattoos don’t have to have meaning, or much meaning anyways. I have an angry howler monkey holding a fruit on my arm next to a big skull. The reason I got it… Howler monkeys are cool little monkeys and skulls are cool too. One that does have meaning is my “Non Cocotte” script tattoo. Cocotte means pinecone in french. I used to call my daughter that because it is a cute sounding word in french, much like calling her pumpkin in english. When she was able to talk, I showed her what a “cocotte” was. I pointed to the pinecone, said cocotte and then pointed to her and repeated. She then said “Non-Cocotte” and since then she has never wanted me to call her that. So I got it inked!

Where do you currently tattoo?

My studio, Carte Blanche, is located at 66 Gerrard st unit 202 in Toronto.

Do you have any awesome tattoo stories, like doing a celeb tattoo?

I have never tattooed a celebrity… Sad Face

Thank you Mikey for taking the time to answer some questions and welcome to the team. If you are interested in getting your own custom tattoo design that gets Mikey’s seal of approval, click the button below.


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