When Nick McMaster was eight years outdated, he fastened a colouring contest at a video retailer in his residence city of Beamsville, Ontario.
“There have been 140 sheets submitted for the competition. 70 of them had been mine,” he mentioned.
Decided to win a VHS copy of Babe — the 1995 movie about an orphaned pig (who was gained in a contest within the movie as properly) — McMaster photocopied 70 colouring pages. He colored the pages all totally different and dropped each via the video return slot of FourMost video every single day.
Evidently, he gained the colouring contest.
McMaster has all the time been a maverick. He handed up a scholarship with the College of Toronto, and spent two years at Sheridan Faculty in Oakville, Ontario earlier than he determined ‘artwork college was bull——’.
So he left college, and landed a gig at tattoo store in Hamilton. A short time later, McMaster and a good friend moved to Toronto in the hunt for higher alternatives.
“I bought my automobile. Bought all my stuff. I began making use of to outlets, and received into this little store within the West Finish. I labored there for a bit bit, then I met my girlfriend — she’s my spouse now — I met her a pair months after I began tattooing.”
Younger and in love, he managed to get a job simply 4 blocks away from the home of his then girlfriend now spouse — Agnes.
McMaster went on to work at a number of outlets, rambling his manner via Etobicoke, Hamilton, and Woodbridge. For a quick interval, McMaster labored 5 days every week at one store, and three days every week at one other.
“I used to be doing hundreds of tattoos a 12 months — it was insane,” he mentioned.
“By tattooing you may both stick to at least one store and be tremendous loyal. Otherwise you will be like me and be a vampire, work at a store, be taught as a lot as you may, then transfer on to a different store and be taught as a lot as you may.”
Now McMaster is 31 years outdated, and owns Cinder and Sea, a tattoo and tremendous artwork studio on Willow Road in Chemainus. Within the entrance of the store, McMaster showcases his work, sculptures, and carvings. A lot of his artwork options landscapes and animals of the west coast. Within the again, he has a personal tattoo studio.
Cinder and Sea opened in September 2019 after McMaster renovated the inside of the store — which was formally occupied by Salt Spring Soapworks. The whole lot from the flooring to the shelving was put in by him.
McMaster says the brand new house has been constructive for each his creativity, and his enterprise.
“It’s simpler to make stuff when it’s not piling up round me in a room in my basement. I get the possibility to speak about it, and have folks see it. I can choose folks’s reactions extra — I’m not simply hoping and questioning if folks like my artwork. I’m really interacting with folks,” he mentioned.
“It makes the choice making course of loads simpler. I’ve gotten much more gross sales and alternatives having a bodily location. With artwork once you see it on-line — that’s one factor — however once you see it in particular person it’s one other. Lots of people like having a bodily retailer moderately than shopping for random stuff off the web.”
He initially supposed Cinder and Sea to be solely a gallery house. Previous to the pandemic, McMaster tattooed at Electrical Umbrella in Nanaimo. When public well being orders took impact, the store needed to shut briefly, which left McMaster and his co-workers left with out a job. When restrictions had been lifted and tattoo outlets may function once more, McMaster opted to mix his passions at Cinder and Sea.
“It’s sort of half in between, which is what I like about it now.”
Though McMaster’s tattoo observe is incessantly booked with purchasers, he has observed a steep decline in foot site visitors to his gallery. He estimates that foot site visitors in downtown Chemainus declined 95 p.c in the course of the early months of the pandemic, and has solely returned to about 35 p.c of regular.
Since McMaster opened his doorways in fall 2019, he didn’t have the one 12 months of enterprise historical past required to use for presidency assist applications. McMaster did qualify for CERB, but it surely was rapidly consumed via hire funds for Cinder and Sea and his residence in Ladysmith.
Now that he can safely tattoo purchasers, his enterprise is getting again on monitor.
“I’m nonetheless making an revenue — but it surely’s not what it needs to be, and what it needs to be isn’t provable,” he mentioned.
Regardless of the challenges of COVID, Chemainus has confirmed to be an excellent match for McMaster, and he’s hoping to stay in the neighborhood properly into the longer term.
“I wish to be a part of the neighborhood… I’ve received the flexibility and the ability now to assist folks out. If I’m doing properly and the store’s doing properly, then I will be free to do extra round city.”
Within the new 12 months, McMaster plans to host a pair of artwork lessons in Chemainus. One will train panorama portray, and the opposite will train imaginative wildlife drawing.
Within the meantime, McMaster welcomes anybody who needs to speak about artwork or tattooing to go to his store. Cinder and Sea is open 4 p.m. to eight p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 9748 Willow Road in Chemainus.
The creator of this text is a tattoo consumer of Nick McMaster.