Laurence Morin is an artist and co-owner and founder of Montreal’s Gray Market: an art market that specializes in tattooing, and also has an art boutique and workshops. Morin is into a lot of different art mediums: tattooing, drawing, woodwork and fashion.
Her journey with art goes back to when she was about two or three years old, since then she’s always been drawing. She drew a lot in school when she was bored in class, and all her notebooks would be filled with doodles. Her kindergarten teacher once tried to correct her for drawing a human body without a torso; just head and legs with feet. She told her teacher that she didn’t care. She’s always been a visual person and draws to her liking. Morin’s developed her own, beautifully unique, flowy style. Her favourite thing to draw is “organic, trippy, linework” Morin said.
Wood burning was the second type of art that Morin got into. She started when she was in college. One of her friends, with a custom longboard company, wanted her to decorate longboards in a permanent and un-scratchable way. He reached out to her, because he liked her drawings, and knew that she’d be good at wood burning.
When she studied kinesiology at the University of Montreal, Morin thought about getting into tattooing but decided not to, because she wanted to focus on her studies, and at the time tattoo artists were required to get an apprenticeship. Though, when Morin went tree-planting, she became aware of the world of underground tattooing. She meet people tree-planting who loved her drawings and wanted her to tattoo them, even though she had no experience. She recalled that one tree planter rolled up her sleeve, gave Morin her arm, and said something to the liking of “here’s my arm, tattoo it how you like, I know you can do it, you draw girl.”
Morin’s noticed similarities between wood-burning and tattooing. “Both techniques are really similar in a sense that they’re both permanent, they’re both on live material that have characteristics. So there are veins in the wood, just like there are veins in the human body. It’s all about the timing, too. With tattooing and wood burning, you don’t press to have a big line, you wait. I got into drawing, then wood burning and then tattooing” Morin said.
Though three years of tattooing while tree planting, tattooing friends and auto tattooing, she began to gain a lot of experience. “I bought a machine on kijij, and just started ripping at my legs, just tattooing the hell out of my legs,” Morin said. She also stated tattooing in basements, parties and where ever she could, all before unofficial tattooing was normalized and tattoos got so popular. Morin talked about tattoos’ normality and acceptance in today’s culture, especially with young people. She’s happy about this and is glad that she started tattooing when she did. In every spare moment that she has, she’s creating something and is always excited to post and share what she makes. She does all the social media work for the Gray Market and is often shocked by how much time it takes.
“The coming up of Instagram changed everything,” Morin said, “especially four or five years ago the algorithm was better for artists. Now it’s hard to post something and to get out there and be unique. The opposite side of Instagram is that now it’s so saturated, and there are so many shops and so many artists. If you start in the tattoo world these days, you really have to have your own style.”
“I’ve always had that drive to put visuals on a physical format and express myself through that and not care what people say,” Morin said. She’s grateful that her Gray Market company has survived the pandemic, and hopes that business can pick up in the summer as usual. The Gray Market, an art market, has three tattoo studios, an art boutique, fashion, jewellery, wood-burning, custom clothes and a team of 18 tattoo artists.
You can find more about her work and the Gray Market on Instagram: hell___em, greymarket_salons
Leave a Reply