Making a mark

by Brittany Wentzell

  • <p>Rennick Clattenburg is a 19 year-old tattoo artist from Camperdown. Clattenburg&#8217;s work and his youth is getting attention at his workplace Artistic Issues in Bridgewater.</p><p>BRITTANY WENTZELL PHOTO</p>
  • <p>Although the shop&#8217;s sign says people under 16 aren&#8217;t permitted, Clattenburg has been apprenticing there since he was 13.</p><p>BRITTANY WENTZELL PHOTO</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>One of Clattenburg&#8217;s favourite pieces.</p>

When you walk into Artistic Issues on King Street in Bridgewater, a young, friendly face is waiting to greet you - 19-year-old Rennick Clattenburg.

What Clattenburg lacks in age, he makes up for in experience. He's been tattooing since he was 13, and fell in love with the idea after becoming infatuated with a popular television show.

"I was always drawing in school. I was the one everybody went to to finish their art projects," laughed Clattenburg. "Believe it or not, I was in about Grade 4 and I saw that show Miami Ink ... that really intrigued me."

After that, the Camperdown man was smitten. With the help of his mother, a 13-year-old Clattenburg secured an apprenticeship with Aaron Kaizer, owner of Artistic Issues.

Family has been an important part of his journey as a tattoo artist.

"My mother is part of the reason I got into this industry... she's the one who said, 'Well, you want to do this,' and she walked right over to Aaron and said 'Hi, can you apprentice my son?' She wanted me to be able to say I have the support, and I'm certainly appreciative of what she's done."

Clattenburg started tattooing on synthetic skin for practice and after a couple years, a friend of Kaizer's volunteered to be his first live subject. Since then, Clattenburg has been tattooing nearly full-time every summer at the parlour.

"Around Grade 11 or 12, I decided, this is what I plan doing full time," he said.

But at first, his youth was a problem for some. When he was still in high school and working at the parlour, clients would sometimes come in after a phone consultation, see his face, and cancel their appointments.

Although it was disappointing, he said he doesn't blame them.

"That just made me push harder to show those people I have something to offer, I have something to bring to the table," he said.

Clients now ask for him by name. On the day LighthouseNOW visited, a potential client walked in, only to be told Clattenburg has few openings until August.

Although he wants to become a jack-of-all-trades, his forte is black and white portrait-style tattoos. He loves the detail work it takes to pull that art style off.

"If there was something I could do all the time, it would be black and grey realism," he said. "But where I'm still new in the industry, I want to have a feel to approach anything that comes my way."

A couple friends of Clattenburg's allow him to tattoo nearly whatever he wants on them for a discounted fee. They choose the subject and Clattenburg chooses the portrait. Right now he's working on a horror movie themed sleeve for a friend.

Clattenburg has eight tattoos himself - some are his own work, others are from artists he admires.

"I look up to [other tattoo artists] a lot and where they don't do apprenticeships, I figured the best way I could learn was to get tattooed and watch how they approach things and learn from that," he said.

Despite his youth, Clattenburg feels strongly that he's chosen the right career.

"I could do something like this for the rest of my life," he said.

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