Ever wonder what life would be like if we figured out what we want to do at 19? Would life be better? Would we be happier? Would we save ourselves from years of doing the wrong things, and what would that mean for us in the long run? Would the head start guarantee success? Then again, aren’t those the same mistakes that we should learn from? Don’t we all need to fall down a few times so we can rise a better person? Unfortunately, we don’t have the answers to these questions. All we know is that since we started our studio, we’ve been fortunate to meet young aspiring people from all over the world coming from all different types of situations. Their unique histories have challenged us to understand and teach differently. We’ve learned that while everyone learns at different speeds, and reacts differently to different methods; they’ve taught us one absolute realization - that people are capable of great things, no matter their ages, and no matter their histories. We’ve always celebrated the underdog, the hardship apprentices because our heart goes out to them and we hope their stories will inspire others. But if we are going to indirectly celebrate failures, then we think it also makes sense to celebrate young people who are well put together, who didn’t need the dramatic failures to become successful. And, if we are going to be critical of unsupportive families who try their hardest to get in the way of our apprentices, then we should also applaud the ones that do everything they can to help their sons and daughters succeed. Last summer, we decided to accept Tegan Rush as an apprentice. Originally, we had closed off all apprenticeships because we felt we couldn’t take on anyone else without compromising our previous commitments to the other guys and gals we already had in the studio. But, we just couldn’t say no. Her portfolio was simply amazing for an 18 year old. Her mannerisms and mindset was mature beyond her years. She had this calm and ready approach that’s so refreshing in today’s instant gratification culture. She’s just a throwback to everything we’ve seen, of all the skills she possessed, she didn’t know how to use a smartphone! Now, as composed and talented as she was, her apprenticeship was not without growing pains. She had to take great risks just to get to us. She decided to forgo school and move to Toronto & Vancouver from Kingston to chase her dreams. She somehow organized herself to come here and live on her own at 18, not an easy feat by any stretch. Maybe if she cried about how difficult it was, and how she had to adjust to a completely new life, we’d be reminded to praise her more. For anyone who’s moved out on their own at a young age, you will know that none of it is easy, but Tegan just took it all in stride. While she made this whole transition look effortless, we must also commend her parents, especially her dad Andy Rush, for being one of the coolest and most supportive parents we’ve ever met. He took an active part in her researching studios for Tegan to apprentice under. I can remember meeting him and Tegan for the first time, I think while I was interviewing Tegan, he was interviewing me. Not only did he bless Tegan with great artistic and creative genes (he was a musician and her grandmother was an author), he’s also quite a throwback himself. He didn’t frown upon the tattoo industry. He took the time to come see what we are all about. He gave us a chance, and because of it, he gave Tegan a chance. Most of all, he gave her a chance to do something she’s passionate about; he offered her the greatest gift a parent can give - a chance to be happy. We hope any parents out there that are reading this will take what I’m about to write very seriously. The tattoo industry is not filled with crazies and degenerates. (We’ve recently been denied two locations as we try to expand our Markham location just because we do tattoos so that perception is still out there today, but that’s another story altogether) If you want the world to treat your children with equality and sensibility, if you want them to be well-adjusted young people, you must practise what you preach. Forgo what you think you know and actually get to know the people before you discriminate them or what they do. So, for all of you who care to celebrate a young person for making the right decisions, someone who didn’t need to mess up to know right from wrong, someone who accepted her life and responsibilities without complaints, we hope you will come and see Tegan as she begins her journey as a full-time artist here at Chronic Ink. We think before long, you’ll be telling people, “I got a Tegan Rush piece”, and they’ll know exactly who you are talking about.