Traditional tattooist keeping the art alive
- By Kerry Benjoe
When Stacey Fayant began her journey to revitalize the traditional art of Indigenous tattoos, she knew it was not a one-person job.
As a cultural Indigenous tattoo practitioner, it has always been her goal to share her knowledge to others and that’s what she’s doing with three apprentices.
Jayda Delorme, 20, an emerging mixed medium artist.
She developed an interest in tattooing after meeting Fayant about three years ago.
“My mom got her first tattoo on her back,” said Delorme. “It was Cree syllabics of her spirit name and from there I fell in love because I didn’t know traditional tattooing was in my culture.”
After her interest was piqued, she wanted to know more.
“I just knew I needed to reclaim and learn this practice,” said Delorme.
She received her own traditional tattoo from Fayant, but it wasn’t until the filming of the APTN Skindigenous documentary the two had time to talk about the tattoo process.
“Fayant took the time to go along each step with myself and her daughter,” said Delorme. “I just knew I had to do this and from there I began researching.”
Around the same time, Fayant was waiting for the nod from her teacher before she committed to taking on any apprentices.
Delorme believes she is exactly where she was meant to be. Like many artists she began by sketching and developed her own unique style of art that is easily recognizable and has been commissioned to create some larger public art pieces.
Before delving into the permanency of ink, she began with creating Henna tattoos on herself and others. She then progressed to the art of body painting, which took her as far as Austria to the World Body Painting Festival.
Delorme was honoured when Fayant selected her to be a traditional tattoo artist apprentice alongside Geanna Dunbar and Holly Aubichon.
Although the trio have practiced on each other and on themselves, the next step is to tattoo others.
Delorme had her chance at the Sakewewak’s Storytellers Festival and Blood Lines tattoo symposium.
She said everyone from the tattoo community has been willing to help guide her through the process of tattooing, especially her mentor.
About four years ago, Fayant began her tattoo journey. In 2019, she was one of three participants of the Earthline Tattoo School in Halifax Ont.
She said being surrounded by a tattoo community is very powerful and to be part of the growing community in the province is something very special.
“When I first started there was nobody here who did it,” said Fayant. “So to have the community growing, like this, is a dream come true.”
For the past 18 months Fayant and her three apprentices have been getting together each week to talk about tattoos, learn new techniques or practice.
“The people who trained me…stopped teaching and said it was time for their students to start teaching in their areas,” she said. “I took that as the go ahead (to start training others.) I had people asking for some time, but I wanted it to feel right and to feel like I was ready. I feel like I really needed that go-ahead from my teachers.”
She is amazed at how quickly the Indigenous community, especially the women, have embraced face tattoos.
“It’s like an explosion of culture that’s just so beautiful,” said Fayant.
She said the stigma of face tattoos has diminished.
“Claiming our own beliefs about what is beautiful, as Indigenous women, is so huge,” said Fayant. “It makes a change in our own beliefs about ourselves.”