Lets get the stats out-of-the-way. Who are you? Where are you from and how long have you been tattooing?
My name is Griffen Dunsmore. I moved to PEI from Toronto in 89′ and I think I started tattooing in 98′..
Wow Toronto to PEI, big change.
Ya. Right from the city to Victoria by the Sea. No 7-11’s here. I miss Coke Slushie’s so bad.
They must have Slushie’s in Summerside?
Yes, but not real Coke ones. Big difference.
What was your background in art before tattooing?
My parents are both artists, so I assume I was born with a crayon in my hand and I have been drawing mostly all my life. I went two years in art college then quit to tattoo.
NSCAD? Yes, that was it.
What was it like the first time you put a tattoo gun to human flesh?
I had a panic attack. I was so nervous I couldn’t stop shaking. It was a name inside of some tribal and was getting covered anyway, I was so nervous.
I bet. Tattooing is a tough profession. For example pro athletes make millions and fuck up all the time you guys make far less and can’t even fuck up once.
Well, we fuck up sometimes but as we go we learn how to correct any mistakes. We aren’t photocopiers, so you have to know how to do that.
True. Your main focus is custom art.
I take what comes in but it’s mostly custom at this point. At first I did a lot of smaller stuff but over the years it’s become more original.
Right. It’s not like back in the day when people mostly chose flash off the wall?
Yeah for sure. We don’t have flash at our shop.
What’s the shop you work out of?
Artist’s Ink. Summerside, PEI. Owned by Aron Scott.
Lets talk “Tramp stamps” do you do em’?
( Laughs) Yep.
Do people come into the shop and say “I want this on my lower back” or do they lay it down straight ? “I want a tramp stamp.”
Yes, most people make it a joke now when they ask for one. It’s too bad, it’s a really nice spot to get a tattoo for a girl. It really accentuates the bum and waist.
Any odd spots you done or do you have limits?
Not too many really weird spots. But I do not like tattooing fingers, necks or faces. I have never tattooed a face. I don’t think I would, too much pressure.
Same reason for necks and fingers?
Yeah, that and the skin is difficult.
Ya, my knuckles are done and its a bit of a mess.
The ink doesn’t like to stay in fingers too well.
Since you have begun, tattooing has come a long way. It has become way more socially acceptable.
Yes, thanks mostly to TV. When I first started in PEI it wasn’t very accepted now most people have them.
Reality TV ruins everything.
The actual art itself has come a long way as well.
Yes it really has, it’s hard to be good at it when real artists are getting ahold of machines. There is some amazing art out there.
I love it so much more now that the rules have changed. It is so much more fun.
I believe you are becoming one of the top artists on PEI if not the east coast. It is really noticeable when someone asks on social media for who is the best artist and your name dominates. Do you feel the pressure?
Yeah, it freaks me out a bit.
I’m sure you get the same questions everyday. Do you have any advice for newbies looking to get work done?
Yes. Take a look at the portfolios. Which ever style matches what you are looking for, thats the artist you want. We are not all good at everything. Pick someone according to what they like to do. You will get a better result. I send people to other artists all the time if I feel they can do a better job.
We have some good artists here. They all do a great job in their specialties.
Is there any one thing that you never want to tattoo again.
An infinity symbol. I’m just feeling like there may be enough of them. Cute tattoo but over done now.
Not even Jesus pulled off infinity. Any shout outs?
All my tattoo pals. My boss Aron Scott. My co-workers Chandler Moase and Sharky Jones.
Last song you listened too?
Track seven (For The Sun) on the Monster Truck album ‘Furiosity is my current jam.
Artists Ink is located on 622 Water st. in Summerside, PEI. Please give em’ a LIKE on Facebook.