Community Fits with Subdidink

Wallace Community Fit with Subdidink

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of sitting with Sebastian, a.k.a. SUBDIDINK, a Vancouver-Based tattoo artist and DJ, operating and working out of a beautiful Chinatown studio that has become home to many artists in this city.

Portrait Image 2

As Seb places the stencil on my arm for the leaning cowboy he’s going to tattoo, he tells me about the studio.

I think that this space really embodies what it means to be a creative. There’s this girl, right? That’s her easel and chair right there. She's a full-time dominatrix; but, she just needs a place to paint. You know, her full-time job is to step on old dudes but she loves to paint and needed a place to do it so she comes here. It’s kinda cool and I think it really adds to it all.

Ricardo: So did you work out of a tattoo shop before opening up this studio?

No man, ill give you the story. Basically I was working in a kitchen for a really long time and this guy that I used to work with told me “Hey man I have all this old tattoo equipment and im leaving the country. Do you want it?”

Seb finishes putting the stencil on my arm and gets distracted by how it looks.

Yo PEEP THAT! See how he’s perched up? Even if you bend your arm he still looks cool.

Anyways, let me get back to the story. So I had all this tattoo equipment and I gave myself something on my thigh and said “F*** this. Im not doing this” but fast forward 6 months later, my partner asked me If I could tattoo her and I said sure; somehow it turned out a lot better than mine. I think it’s because there was more pressure. It was on her and not me so I wanted it to be good. Then I tattooed myself again and it turned out even better. Soon after that I told my work “Im gonna try this art shit full-time” and gave them my 2-weeks notice.

Landscape Image for Row 4
Portrait Image 1 for Row 5

For the first month and a half, I really struggled. Basically only tattooing my friends out of my apartment. It slowly started picking up and I kept working at it and over the next two years I slowly changed my apartment to be a functioning studio. Two years after that I moved here.

My 50th tattoo was the first time I was paid. My friend gave me some money and I tried to deny it, I really didn’t want money but he said “I’m not giving you this for the tattoo, I'm giving you this so you can buy more supplies and keep doing it.” That justified it for me from that point on. It’s so hard for artists to put a price on their work. Ask anyone here.

Seb yells across the studio to someone painting on a large canvas.

“YO! How much you gonna sell that for?” “uuh... I dont know?”

You see? It’s not easy to monetize what we do. Artists get a lot of anxiety asking for money for their work. I’d do it for a full tank of gas and a pack of smokes! But that’s what justifies this lifestyle and it reminds me that I really love this craft.

Landscape Image for Row 6

To be honest, I don't know how this shits working either man. People always ask what’s the formula? I honestly don’t know. I am a degenerate. But people are willing to come and get some of my work on their body. I was able to pay off my student loans with all this and I have to give a lot of the credit to my friends and family who told me to just focus and keep doing it.

Ricardo: What did you go to school for?

I went to school for Fine Arts at MacEwan University in Edmonton. I hated it at first. It was the first time that my art had to be critiqued and it was a weird feeling. You know, you go into art school thinking that you know everything and that art is subjective so how can you be judged on your work? But you quickly realize that there’s a proper way of looking at art and having the critical thinking skills to be able to dissect what works and what doesn’t is important. I’m really glad that I did that because it allows me to look at things in a different way.

At that point I didn’t know I wanted to tattoo. I used to do a lot of graffiti and running on the street doing artwork with friends. Some of my friends mentioned “Maybe you should pick up this craft[Tattoo], you might really like it.” And here I am now.

Portrait Image 3 for Row 8
Portrait Image 4 for Row 8

Ricardo: I’ve always wondered, as a tattoo artist, is it weird knowing that what you’re doing right now is going to be on me for the rest of my life?

That’s the part I’ve had to learn to let go of as I’ve gotten more into this art form. A part of me believes that I was always meant to do this for you and you were always meant to receive it. We’re almost done here and you’re going to look at it in the mirror and say “Oh this makes so much sense.” I think you were always supposed to have this tattoo, it just hadn’t shown up yet but its always been there. There is always going to be anxiety over how its going to look but releasing that and accepting it is part of it.

It’s an energy transfer between two people.

Landscape Image for Row 10

Shop the Look