Tucked away in the forests of Powell River, with only two ferry rides and three hours of driving along logging roads away from Vancouver, B.C., lies a new tattoo shop. Fresh paint and sawdust are faint but present, betraying the flurry of recent construction. The all-too-familiar drilling of metal into flesh punctures the air.

Sat at her stool, Tia Ackerman works. She’s only 23, but she’s already well-positioned to take her craft to the next level. Finishing her apprenticeship this year, she’s wasted no opportunity to start her shop: TA Tattoos. It makes sense, given the landscape. Powell River is occupied mainly by loggers and hippies (my words, not hers), two demographics that share one thing in common: a love of body art.

We got in touch to ask about her flight path to becoming a newly independent artist and learn more about how she got her start.

What was the first tattoo you ever got/gave?

Tia Ackerman: “The first tattoo I ever got was when I was 16 years old. I had just come off of an eight-hour shift at work, and there was an annual festival going on, Blackberry Fest. I walked to the local tattoo shop and met up with my parents. I got my first tattoo in full colour, and to this day is my only colour tattoo. After my appointment, my dad surprised me and got one to match mine, but his has an added leaf, (that’s an important factor because he likes to say that his is better because of it) haha.”

How many tattoos do you have on your body?

“I can’t even count at this point. Many have been meshed together and tiny added fillers throughout. I have a full sleeve on my left arm (except some little fillers and elbow), and a patchwork style on my lower right leg.”

How did you get started?

“It all really started when I was a kid, and I used to sit and watch Ink Master with my Dad. My dad and I would use Sharpies and draw ‘tattoos’ on each other. It’s funny, I remember showing up to school and teachers being mad at me because I was going to get “ink poisoning” and my dad and I would get in trouble together.”

“Then, when I was a little older, I started doing Stick and Poke tattoos on myself and close family. A couple months after that, I bought a cheap tattoo gun off of Amazon and started tattooing myself. I realized that I’ve always found beauty in the body modification world, and the artwork and expression really spoke to me.”

What’s the most challenging thing about tattooing/getting tattooed?

“The most challenging thing about both getting tattooed and giving tattoos, is the pain. It’s difficult because there is only so much that your body can take, but your mind knows that you chose this and that it will be worth it in the end. There is a lot of beauty behind the pain, though.”

How would you describe your personal artistic style?

“I have always been very drawn to old-school, Traditional tattoos, as they will forever be a classic. But, I would say I’m definitely more line work/illustrative, although it’s a mix of many styles. I feel like I have the capability to adapt to many different styles, and I do enjoy trying new styles/ways to tattoo. I feel like I’m still trying to find “me” to be completely honest, sometimes if I think about the whole concept of tattooing It still can freak me out… I stab people for a living.”

What’s the most outrageous/batshit thing you’ve ever had or asked to have tattooed?

“There haven’t been too many crazy ones but a lot of cringy ones. There is one that comes to mind, I had two guys ask me to do matching best friend tattoos. Mini astronauts, standing on their chest, with a flag going through their nipples. Lucky for me, they never went through with getting them done. Although sometimes I still wonder what it would be like to tattoo over that area.”

What’s the most popular style of tattoo you seem to be doing (or seeing done) lately?

“I would have to say, some of the most popular tattoos would be fine line tattoos, very minimal to no shading. I have noticed that people because they’re easy to hide and an easy introduction into the world of tattoos, as they don’t usually take that long to do. I have done a fair share myself and even though those styles of tattoos seem really simple, they can be challenging. You can’t hide anything behind a single needle tattoo.”

Do any of your tattoos have a particularly special meaning behind them?

“My first tattoo, I feel like for many people you either love and have a close attachment to your first tattoo, or it becomes your first coverup. I also got an angel for my grandma (who is still alive) because she has always been gifted with angels (as presents) and has been a very special and important person in my life. A lot of the tattoos on my left arm are for my family, or things that they have told me, or things that remind me of them.”

We know you have one… tell us about that stoned/drunken joke tattoo you once got….

“Oh boy! Before I was a professional, I tattooed the inside of my fingers in my kitchen and it said: “Take Five”. I was drunkenly inspired, for reasons I cannot remember for the life of me now. I know it had something to do with the band Five Finger Death Punch and a bottle of tequila. Funnily enough, now if you look at my hand you can’t even tell that they were there, it’s completely faded except for a few speckles here and there.”

Have you had anything covered up? If yes, what was it and why?

“I only have had one cover-up overall. The original was a Sparrow, and I got it covered up because a lot of people made fun of it. One of the factors being someone kept saying it looked like a flying rat. So, I got it covered up with a Raven! When I think about it now, I actually wish I didn’t cover it up.”

If you HAD to get someone’s face tattooed on you, whose would it be and why?

“So, I have truly never wanted anyone’s face tattooed on me, but the first and only face that comes to mind is someone from the Addams Family. I’d have to say, Cousin It (if they count as a face) or Uncle Fester. But, honestly, if I’m really doing it, I’d want their family portrait on my thigh or a back piece (go big or go home).”

Getting a tattoo is a deeply personal experience; do you feel people choose a tattoo artist in
the same way they choose the actual tattoo design?

“I would have to say yes and no. I feel like nowadays, a lot of people pick tattoo artists out of convenience. I’d say most people, unless it’s a large-scale piece and an idea that you have been sitting on for a while, it’s always ‘when is the soonest I can get in’ and ‘is there anyone that can do it today.’

“Although, on the flip side. I do have recurring clients that do say, if they don’t vibe with the artist, it doesn’t matter how good they are, they won’t be going back.”


Director of Communications @ V13. Lance Marwood is a music and entertainment writer who has been featured in both digital and print publications, including a foreword for the book "Toronto DIY: (2008-2013)" and The Continuist. He has been creating and coordinating content for V13 since 2015 (back when it was PureGrainAudio); before that he wrote and hosted a radio and online series called The Hard Stuff , featuring interviews with bands and insight into the Toronto DIY and wider hardcore punk scene. He has performed in bands and played shows alongside acts such as Expectorated Sequence, S.H.I.T., and Full of Hell.