Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Meet Cohen Floch!

June 21st, 2010 by

I’m always interested in finding the tattoo artists out there who strike me as being exceptionally talented.  No doubt, any of us who really appreciate the skill and devotion that goes into a tattoo artist’s craft always want to find out about that certain tattoo artist who can really open our eyes and make us say damn!  I guess that’s the whole reason why I do these weekly tattoo artist profiles.  Sure, sometimes I write about artists that are totally well known, but I like to think that for the most part I strive to shed some light on artists that are thoroughly talented, but who can’t be found on some reality TV programme or hawking a multi-million dollar, tattoo inspired clothing line.

To be honest, it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I needed to dig a little deeper and take a look at the artists in my very own city of Vancouver, Canada.  Tattoos are big here, but for whatever reason, I haven’t spent enough time checking things out and talking to some of the artists who shed their blood, sweat and ink to keep rainy Vancouver tattooed.  So here we go, first up is Cohen Floch, a very talented chap whose portfolio can be found here.  And now, on with the interview…

In your bio you say that your love of tattoos kind of blossomed while living in Taiwan, after being tattooed by tattoo Master Diau-An.  How did this relationship with a Taiwanese tattoo artist come about and what lasting impressions did it leave on you and your work?

Meeting Diau-An was a bit of a convoluted experience. I was getting tattooed by another fellow, his work was impressive but his work ethic was not. After having half of my leg done, my wife was considering starting a sleeve. The artist broke numerous appointments and in the end she had had enough. We walked down the street into the next shop we found. Low and behold it was the shop of one of the best artists in Taiwan, Diau-An. We fostered a relationship over many hours of tattooing. I have both of my arms and entire left leg done by him and my wife has two ¾ sleeves as well. Needless to say we spent many an hour together. Even though the communication wasn’t perfect, we managed. Once I had decided that tattooing was what I wanted to do, I ended up spending some time in his shop, observing and drawing. An apprenticeship was there to be had but we had already made plans to move back to Canada and those plans were already in motion. I’d say that what inspired me most was how Diau-An embodied tattooing. He carried himself with a lot of dignity in all aspects of his life, he wanted to educate other artists throughout his country. After thirty years of tattooing I could tell that this man still loved what he was doing. He wasn’t set in his ways and was still learning each and every day. I’ve never had the opportunity to observe another artist quite like him.

What’s the tattoo scene like in Vancouver?  Is it a genuine, close knit community of artists or is it more along the lines of every man for himself?

I’m pretty sheltered from the tattoo scene. I know a number of other artists, but wouldn’t say that I participate in a community. I probably should get out more, but certain personality traits tend to carry themselves into all aspects of your life. I grew up in the middle of nowhere; time alone means a lot to me. Tattooing is an intense social experience and at the end of each day I’m pretty mentally exhausted. Time at home drawing usually takes precedent over getting out and socializing. In the end I can’t really give an opinion on the tattoo scene here. Almost every artist I’ve met has been receptive and open, there are a lot of genuinely good people tattooing.

What or who inspires you in your work and pushes you to better yourself?  How?

In the end the push for betterment comes down to me. I could always settle for “good enough” but I’ll draw and redraw even after my client is happy with the design. I’m not looking for approval from some outside source, we should be our own worst critics and if we aren’t, then we’ve become complacent and are simply going through the motions. As for inspiration, it can come from a lot of different aspects in life … travel is always great, shattering your ideas of what is “normal” is always a growing experience. Artwork in all mediums can be inspirational, across cultures and time periods. Of course seeing other tattoos and other tattoo artists, that’s an amazing source of inspiration as there are so many great artists out there.

Who are your favourite tattoo artists, both local and international?

As seen in previous answers I have to pay homage to master Diau-An of Tawian.  Also, I’ve always loved Filip Leu, all that he has done and continues to do in the realm of tattooing.  Ed Hardy, Bob Shaw, Sailor Jerry, and Horiyoshi III, the past continues into the present.  Dana Helmuth, Scott Sylvia, Jeff Gogue, and Shige … all are amazing.

What’s your favourite type of tattoo to do?

My initial passion for tattooing was all leaning towards the Japanese tattoo. The layout and flow of large scale Japanese pieces will always hold a special place in my heart. Having said that, I’ve come to appreciate the traditional American style as well. One point, single sitting, bold and simple pieces are a lot of fun to do. So, to summarize, I love large scale Japanese work or single sitting American traditional. That’s not to say that I don’t find enjoyment in most every other tattoo I do as well.

Do you plan to stay in Vancouver for the rest of your career or do you think you’ll ever relocate to somewhere else in the world?

At this point I couldn’t say one way or another. Vancouver is a great place and your average tattoo customer seems quite educated in what they want. Also, my wife and I have discovered mountain biking so leaving the North Shore would be quite difficult. When you look back ten years ago I’m sure you couldn’t have envisioned where life has taken you so who knows where we’ll be in another ten. Perhaps here, perhaps not.

What do you love about tattooing for a living and what do you hate about tattooing for a living?

I get to create art on a daily basis and I get to make people happy. It’s a rewarding job and for the most part it’s hard to call it a job. There’s always room to grow and learn, there is no ceiling to what you might accomplish in tattooing. There aren’t many things that I hate about tattooing, once in a while I dislike the fact that my entire life tends to be overwhelmed by tattooing and the hours that I’m in the shop are equaled by the hours I’m working on drawings at home. That’s when I need to step back and find that balance, it would be a short career if there wasn’t some down time here and there.

If you weren’t tattooing, what do you think you would be doing, career-wise?

Before getting into tattooing I tossed around a few other ideas. I was teaching English in Taiwan and had a few years to ponder the next move. I though about continuing on and getting my M.F.A. and then perhaps teaching art at a University level, when I thought about how flaky art school tended to be I ended up changing my mind. Industrial Design also caught my eye but in the end it seems that I always knew (or hoped) that tattooing was what I’d end up doing. And here I am.

Tell us about Tattoo Union!

Tattoo Union consists of owner/artist Jeremy Riley and artist Cohen Floch (me).  We opened in March of 2008 as a second floor custom shop.  Overlooking the corner of Main & Broadway in Vancouver it’s a quiet and calm atmosphere up above the bustle and noise of the street.  Not being on street level has its benefits as we tend to give a lot of time and care to each and every customer.  It’s most definitely not a “get ’em in get ’em out” type of vibe.  Jeremy and I try to push ourselves and each other and it’s very rare for us to turn away most any idea.  We’ve tried our best to create an inviting and creative space, thus far it’s worked out very well.  You can find us at:

206 – 175 East Broadway Avenue
Vancouver, BC


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