Liam Monahan and Davis Fultz in Cryptic Hive Tattoo and Art Theatre. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Cryptic Hive Tattoo; an epicentre for abstract art

Cryptic Hive Tattoo and Art Theatre is no ordinary Tattoo Parlour. This multimedia centre for art is home to some of the most creative, obscure creations around.

For owner Liam Monahan, this has been a dream in the making for many years.

He considers himself not just a tattoo artist, but an artist in many forms. At the very core, a lover of everything artistic. He has made it his mission to accept and encourage every form of art, especially the abstract.

Monahan created Cryptic Hive with the purpose of creating a stage for experimental art.

“I guess that’s why it’s called Cryptic Hive,” said Monahan. “A hive is a collective of minds sharing knowledge and working towards the same objective.”

The sound of the tattoo machines also sound like bees, so part of the inspiration for the name came from this as well.

Located on 2nd Avenue, beside the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Cryptic Hive features a large lobby in the front, full of artwork, with the tattoo stations in the back. The back of the shop features high ceilings, decorated with spray painted murals designed by Monahan and friends. This large open space in the back has the capability of hosting performances, and Monahan demonstrated this during his opening night on Saturday, November 4.

The Circus Acts Insomniacs performed a tribute to their friend, in celebration of his grand opening.

Working alongside Monahan is Davis Fultz, another local tattoo artist who previously worked out of Poison Apple Tattoo, alongside Monahan and Becka MacDonald. On occasion, the hive will be hosting a guest tattoo artist.

“That’s one of the most amazing things about this place, is having not only tattooing, but all types of artwork, performance arts, everything involved with it,” said Fultz on the opening night.

“It’s a pretty special place. It’s crazy that it’s only the first night and it’s pretty unreal to see what potential he’s brought to the community and to the world.”

With abstract art hanging on the walls lit by gothic chandeliers, black leather couches and bone sculptures in the corners, as well as walls sculpted into the shape of honeycombs that glow when the sun falls, Cryptic Hive in itself is a work of art.

Mia Dungeon, an artist who works a lot with bone, is just one of many gifted artists with work currently on display at the new shop.

“It’s really cool, to be able to leave a unique mark of an artistic form on somebody that they get to keep forever,” said Monahan, speaking about his years as a tattoo artist.

“You get to sort of meet the person, get inside their mind a little bit and create something that truly belongs to them. For them, it feels like they’ve always had it.”

Monahan received his first tattoo at the age of 16. He has always loved the industry.

“I always wanted to do something in the art realm, that was a little bit more obscure than the general,” he said.

As he has grown older, Monahan has come to respect the art of tattooing a lot more, and come to respect art a lot more in general. So far in his career, Monahan, has won many awards for his tattoos such as Tattoo Of The Convention at the Northern Ink Xposure convention in Toronto, 2015.

He sees the professional level of the tattoo industry increasing at an exponential rate. Sometimes, he admits, it’s hard to keep up.

“It’s exciting, because it keeps you driven, it keeps you motivated, because everyone else is killing it so hard so you just want to go go go,” said Monahan.

Throughout his journey to create his new shop, Monahan has been inspired by many artists in many different fields. These are the people who have pushed him to create Cryptic Hive.

Now that he has a place to host events, Monahan plans on placing many talented artists from one particular artform into the spotlight at a big event, every three to four months.

“The collaboration level – who knows where it can go from here?” he said.

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