MSUM grad pursues unconventional career with art degree

BY ALISON SMITH
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Making a living while pursuing a creative endeavor may seem unreachable to some, but five individuals at one of Fargo-Moorhead’s newest tattoo parlors have found a way to combine what they love with a career to provide financial stability.

Felix tattoos Trever Thompson with some traditional tattoo flash.

Felix tattoos Trever Thompson with some traditional tattoo flash.

No Coast Tattoo opened in downtown Fargo last May, and the dedicated staff is growing quite the customer base due to their creativity and passion for their art.

Megan Felix graduated from MSUM in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts, emphasizing in painting. Felix knew at age five she wanted to be an artist. By senior year, “I just knew that I was really passionate about painting,” she said; “and I didn’t know what the hell I was gonna do with it afterward.”

For the first two years at MSUM, Felix pursued art but was undeclared in an emphasis. Eventually, she decided to focus on painting and became more and more interested in the idea of tattooing.

“Tattooing kind of became more of my lifestyle as far as what I listened to (music) and people I hung out with,” Felix said. “I started to get more tattoos myself, began to draw tattoos for other artists.”

She started to notice the connections between painting and tattooing and began marketing her talents to Noah Kilsdonk, co-owner of No Coast, who was doing a lot of her and her husband’s tattoos. When Kilsdonk, Tim Lund, Brice Schneider and Justin Moen decided to open their own shop, they took Felix on as an apprentice.

Surrounded by her own paintings, Felix paints at No Coast Tattoo during the Corks & Canvas Art & Wine Walk in October 2013, an event where downtown businesses can open their doors to the public while offering wine tasting and an art exhibition.

Surrounded by her own paintings, Felix paints at No Coast Tattoo during the Corks & Canvas Art & Wine Walk in October 2013, an event where downtown businesses can open their doors to the public while offering wine tasting and an art exhibition.

Felix has been at No Coast since its opening last May and is thankful to have found a trade where she can grow as an artist while still building up financial stability. “I definitely see tattooing in my future for a long time,” she said. “As long as I can probably physically do it, and then probably paint and be a freelance artist at that point when you have a little bit more stability.”

When it comes to the debate of tattooing as an art form, Felix has an educated standpoint.

“When I was still in school, I was writing a lot of papers about the argument between seeing tattooing as an art form, and why there is so much difference; how society kind of sees them as two different things.

“I think there’s something really exciting about tattooing, and it’s very personal . . . This is a living canvas that, when they die, it goes with them . . . I think it’s something that’s really valued as an artist,” Felix said. “I definitely view it as an art form.”

While there is a debate on whether or not a formal art education is helpful in a tattooing career, Felix is grateful for what her education at MSUM taught her.

“For me, I definitely think that my art education provided a lot more of knowledge overall because I can kind of use my information that I accumulated over the years,” she said.

However her education didn’t stop when she received her diploma. The other artists serve as Felix’s mentors, with over 25 years of combined experience in the industry.

“I still have so much to learn and I want to . . . I’m excited for when I can kind of work more on trying to relate my paintings to my tattoos,” Felix said.

Moen, a 2010 graduate of MSUM with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and self-proclaimed “nerd” of the shop, credits his education at MSUM for helping him with his current position as general manager of No Coast.

“It taught me discipline and organization . . . if you want to be the numbers guy, you gotta know those things,” he said.

He praises all the artists at No Coast for their devotion to their art.

“It’s a phenomenal group of individuals dedicated to their craft and passionate about what it is that they do . . . It’s really a different atmosphere than other places,” Moen said. “That’s why they brought me  in . . .  I do the nerd thing; they do the art thing.”

The shop has a comfortable balance between art and business, providing great customer service while still upholding creative standards for the trade.

For more information on No Coast Tattoo or to schedule a consultation, call 701-212-1087 Tuesday through Saturday between noon and 8 p.m., or visit their facebook at facebook.com/nocoastfargo.

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