Who Did Your Ink? is the Straight’s weekly feature, where we ask badass Vancouverites about the talented artists, indelible stories, and, at times, questionable antics behind their most treasured tattoos.
In this special edition, we chat with Ryan Guldemond of Mother Mother ahead of the band's performance at the Fair at the PNE.
What's your name? Ryan Guldemond.
What do you do? I'm a musician/producer/songwriter. My main gig is singing and playing guitar in Mother Mother, a five-piece band that I founded with my sister 12 years ago.
What was your first tattoo? A skull done in a tribal-line-drawing fashion. Something I drew when I was 16.
Who did your ink? I can't remember or never really knew the artists, save for one: Teresa Johnson, who owns Electro-LadyLux Tattoos (876 Commercial Drive). She did two of the tattoos in this piece: the sugar skull and the meditation diagram.
Why did you choose that artist to do your tattoo? She was fervently recommended to me by a friend.
Who's your favourite local tattoo artist? Teresa Johnson.
Is there any meaning behind your tattoos?
I got this tattoo in a green room after a show in Phoenix. The promoter, who’s a huge fan of Mother Mother, was named Beef and we’ve known him for years. Great guy. He was adamant that we get tattoos to celebrate the successful turnout of the show.
I couldn’t think of anything original to get—I just wanted something small—so when it came time to do the deed, I threw my hands up and said I was at a loss. In jest, I then added that perhaps I’d just get "BEEF" tattooed on my ass.
Beef then unveiled his foot with his name scrawled across his toes and a little strip loin on the pinky, and said, “You could just get this?” So I did.
My manager has a nickname for me: Quan. I’ll spare you the etymology, but basically, he’d call me Quan when I got up to no good. Like, “Uh oh, Quan’s out”, or “Oh man, you were Quanning hard last night!”, and so on.
A couple of years ago, I made some changes and set some intentions to become a better person, thus leaving some of these Quan-like traits behind.
To commemorate that old self, I got this tattoo, a sugar skull, which is a symbol to honour the deceased. However, my manager still calls me Quan and the word has, in fact, morphed into somewhat of an aphoristic mantra. If I do well at something he might say, “You Quanned that” or “Stay Quan” or just, “QUAN!!!”
I started meditating a number of years ago and basically deduced that it was the best thing since sliced bread. To reinforce the importance of keeping up with the practice, I got a tattoo depicting the process of meditation and how I understood it.
The heart and exclamation mark is the intention: love. The waves depict the surface of the mind, where thoughts are busy and turbulent. The circles are thoughts getting smaller and sinking to nothingness. The anchor signifies the feeling of being rooted in that stillness.
I wish the tattoo worked better, though. I still find it next to impossible to meditate daily.
What's next on your ink list? I should probably get another tattoo. I would like a traditional blue bird on my chest inspired by Charles Bukowski's poem, "Blue Bird": "There's a blue bird in my heart that wants to get out, but I'm too tough for him..."
Mother Mother plays the Fair at the PNE this Saturday (August 19) as part of the Summer Night concert series.