News / Ottawa

Ottawa tattoo shop tells Algonquin College to scrap proposed tattooing course

A proposed tattoo artistry program at Algonquin College has ruffled some feathers with a local tattoo studio that argues charging students to learn the craft would be nothing more than a “cash grab.”

Employees at Living Colour, a downtown Ottawa tattoo studio, started an online petition Friday calling on the college to “cease and desist” the development of a tattoo program.

As of Monday afternoon, it had collected more than 720 signatures.

Alyssa Iswolsky, who manages the Dalhousie Street studio and helped with petition, told Metro tattooing has historically been handed down from artist to apprentice and is not something that should be taught in a classroom.

“The idea of turning it into a cash grab for Algonquin College is a little bit insulting and a little bit worrisome,” said Iswolsky Monday. “(Graduates) might not find their way into a shop after paying this money.”

Just before giving a customer her first tattoo Monday, tattoo artist Alicia Alderson said that with more than three years’ experience as an apprentice in the industry, she still has a lot to learn.

“Apprenticeship has always been the way people have been taught to tattoo. If you had more people being taught something without proper guidance, then there’s going to be more people doing the practice potentially not safely or just misguided,” she said. “Having a course for whatever length of time that they’re choosing to do probably wouldn’t cover everything you need to know.”

David Fairbanks, who works in the hospitality and tourism department at Algonquin, wrote in an email to Metro saying the program, if developed, would better equip graduates who enter the field. He said it follows the “existing three to five year apprenticeship model.”

“There is a growing interest in the field by our students and we were merely exploring the concept of developing a program," said Fairbanks. "If the local industry doesn't like or support it, that is a clear enough message."

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