water colour tattoo with the word 'warrior' and an arrow

Behind the Ink: Brandon Graveline

One of the biggest decisions that you will make when preparing for your next tattoo is selecting the perfect tattoo artist. For those here in Windsor/Essex, Ontario, we are blessed to have some incredible artists working right in our own backyard! Today we’re going to take the time to get to know one such artist, Brandon Graveline of Your Choice Tattoo!

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Located at 38 Shepherd St E, Windsor, Your Choice Tattoo is located right in the heart of this ever-growing and changing city, just off Ouellette Ave. While it doesn’t like anything fancy from the outside, those who walk through the door are met with a warm, welcoming environment. As their Facebook page states, “A place where you can come to get a nice fade, fresh cup of coffee, your hair cut, beard trimmed or possibly a tattoo. When you are here you are like family. We take care of you.”

While I haven’t personally been inked at Your Choice Tattoo, I can say that all interactions I have had with Brandon to date have certainly lived up to that promise! It wasn’t long after first talking to Brandon that I knew I wanted to interview him for Alternatively Speaking, giving all of you an opportunity to ‘get to know’ the man behind the ink!

Whether you’re located in the Windsor/Essex area and looking for new ink, or simply a tattoo lover with an appreciation for the incredible artists that make up this industry, you don’t want to miss this!

Without further ado, Brandon Graveline, Your Choice Tattoo:

How long have you been tattooing?

I have been tattooing for about 8 years now.

How did you get started? Did you have a formal art background? What inspired you to pursue this as a career path?

It all started for me when I was at a low point in my life. I had two small children and needed a way to make decent money and love what I do. After only a short amount of thinking, I remembered all the drawing I used to do at a younger age and, as I am covered in tattoos myself, I had been in and out of the tattoo world already for some time. I ordered a beginning kit online and got started. Not the best kit or supplies but enough to get the feel.

collage of a cover up tattoo starting with the stencil over the original piece through to the completed colour coverup

What do tattoos and tattooing mean to you?

Tattooing to me is a way of life. It is a meditation in that when I am tattooing, nothing else matters or exists. I have been diagnosed with ADHD, depression, and anxiety, and when I tattoo, it is the one time that I am not affected by any of that. A wise man once told me if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. He was right.

Do you remember your first tattoo? What was it? Was there a story behind it?

My very first tattoo is a hack job and it was on a best friend. I was so scared and didn’t know how to keep it steady with my nerves on edge. It wasn’t until my friend told me that he didn’t care about the outcome that I could calm them.

What outside factors do you believe influence and inspire your work?

I am highly influenced by some of the old school artists that are still around putting out sweet pieces. But, also, in how much my fiancée and kids support me on the regular as they watch me grow.

What do you feel are your biggest struggles in the world of tattooing?

My biggest struggles, I would have to say, were the social media attacks in the beginning from any questionable pieces I put out in my early days. Trust me, they don’t just go away. I have recently made posts trying to get in touch with any of the clients who were dissatisfied from my early work to fix it free of charge and, so far, it has been a success! I am all about keeping the client happy by any means necessary.

collage of tattoos including watercolour tattoos, colour tattoos and black and grey tattoos with the title behind the ink: Brandon Graveline

How would you describe your personal artistic style? Has this style evolved over the years?

My style started out black and grey and then a couple of years into working in a tattoo shop, I evolved into colour work (mainly watercolour). My saturation game has gotten stronger significantly over the time learning that style, so I am grateful for crossing that threshold.

What is your favourite thing about tattooing and being a tattoo artist?

My favourite thing about tattooing is making people happy. For instance: A woman walks in and she is self-conscious, beats herself up, maybe just got out of a toxic relationship and then she comes into my shop bearing that load. By the time she walks out, I have her smiling, laughing and looking at herself in a way she has not in some time… Rewarding, to say the least.

Scenario 2: A guy lost his son in a boating accident 6 years ago and he is still mourning the loss. He comes into me to get something that reminds him of his son every time he looks at it, and then I make that happen for him. Once again rewarding.

What advice do you have for someone considering their first tattoo?

Any advice for choosing your artist I can give is this. Never get tattooed if the needles are pre-opened before your arrival and make sure that all devices are wrapped for safety. Do not choose someone who refuses to answer questions or seems rushing. Always book a consult for bigger pieces first to make sure you and your artist are on the same page.

Look through that artists work. Make sure they are consistent, and their lines aren’t shaky.

Related: ’10 Biggest Mistakes To Avoid After Getting A New Tattoo’

I have seen your posts regarding your monthly ‘Cheap Days’. Can you explain what ‘Cheap Days’ consist of? What inspired you to start (and continue) ‘Cheap Days’?

I have very reasonable prices because, well, I love my job and I am for the people. I have cheap days every month where clients that have a lower income or kids, etc. can afford the tattoos they want at a price they can afford. For example, palm-sized tattoos for just $40, hand-sized for $80 and two small tattoos for $70. I get lineups out the door into the parking lot on those days, and It pays my rent for the month on those days alone. I am giving back but also getting myself out there! Last month I did 45 tattoos in two days!!! Must be a record but guess what? that’s 45 smiling faces.

Also, just to mix things up, I raffle a free tattoo every month. It really is about the client in the end.

What are your thoughts on the ongoing discussion about tattoo pricing?

A cheap tattoo does not mean bad tattoo, you really need to consider all factors.

  1. Does this shop have an overhead to cover?
  2. Is the artist a long time, established artist deserving of these prices?
  3. Was there great customer service?

If you answered yes to these three questions, that is why your price is higher. It does not mean you are being ripped off and that you should hunt for cheaper…

Thank you, Brandon Graveline, for all of your insight! It is clear that there is a genuine heart and a passion for the art of tattooing behind everything that you do. I am excited to follow Your Choice Tattoo and see all of the incredible work your produce in the days, weeks and months to come!

If you are looking to connect with Brandon, you can find him on Facebook HERE.

**All pictures are original works by Brandon Graveline and were provided by him for use in this interview.**

Do you know a tattoo artist that deserves to be acknowledged or has a story to tell? We are looking to feature artists across Canada, the United States and around the globe as part of the Behind the Ink series here on Alternatively Speaking! Contact me for details!

Tattoo lovers, what is your opinion on the tattoo pricing discussion? Do you believe that it is a clear indication of a tattoo or tattoo artists value or, like Brandon, do you see it as part of a bigger picture? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments section below!

34 thoughts on “Behind the Ink: Brandon Graveline”

  1. Those are gorgeous! So far I’ve been too chicken to get a tattoo but I’d love to have an angel on my shoulder. Maybe sometime when I get the nerve.

    1. I was incredibly nervous for my first one, but a friend convinced me to step out of my comfort zone. Little did I know that I was just seeing th start of an addiction lol

  2. Wow! Brandon does beautiful work. I love that horse tattoo! I live nowhere near his tattoo parlor or else I would certainly head over with my husband. We are looking to get tattoo wedding bands because I’m no longer able to wear rings. I also really love that watercolor tattoo design you featured here – outstanding!

    1. He’s definitely talented. I have considered the tattoo bands in the past, we even looked into them at one point, but haven’t done it yet.

    1. That was what first caught my attention about him and his shop – the fact that he does that to make tattoos accessible to those who may not be able to afford the higher pricing. Even those who are tight on cash need to treat themselves occasionally.

  3. I haven’t tried a tattoo in my life. But its my wish to have a butterfly tattoo On my wrist. May be someday I will go for it. Any how, nice post. You have asked all the important question in the interview. Thanks for sharing ?

    1. I have a wrist tattoo and I love it. It’s something I can look at any time I want to see it, but if (for some reason) I want to cover it, it can be with a longer sleeve shirt.

  4. Chris Kosto | GoldenBloggerz.com

    The artist is obviously so talented. Very informative & at the same time intresting to read. i wish I have read it before I got my first tattoo!

  5. I loved reading this interview! It was really interesting to hear from the tattooist. I have a few tattoos and I really love them x

    1. I am loving the idea of sharing the opinions, thoughts and personalities of the incredible artists that create such beautiful work.

  6. Such an interesting interview with a hugely talented artist. I only have one tiny tattoo on my hip but I love it. And Brandon’s safety tips are fabulous for anyone considering getting inked. I know it’s been said before but that Alice tattoo is just beautiful! Lisa x

  7. Amazing interview! I loved learning about Brandon, his take on cheap Vs. pricey artists and how he got into watercolour. It’s great that tattoos can have such meaning for people, like the two examples he gave. It’s heart warming. I look forward to seeing more of these Britt.

    1. That’s what really stood out to me about him, it’s clear he has such a huge heart in the way he talks about it all!

  8. Really interesting interview. I particularly love that it acknowledges his growth as a tattoo artist. I think it’s easy to submit to the idea that there are great tattoo artists or bad tattoo artists and it’s forgotten that someone’s early tattoo work doesn’t necessarily represent where they are now.

    1. Yes! I love that about it as well. It acknowledges that, like everything else, we have the ability to learn, grow and evolve. In doing so, he’s become a phenomenal artist, but that doesn’t mean that someone is instantly a knockout the first time they try doing a tattoo!

    1. Isn’t it great? Coverup work is such a difficult form of art too. It has always intrigued me to see how artists are able to make it work so seamlessly in many cases.

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