FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Community members are being cautioned about a tattoo artist that has allegedly scammed Fort St. John customers.
According to multiple sources, Mason Selvidge is well known for taking clients’ money for unfinished work, among other claims.
Selvidge is currently based in Grande Prarie but has travelled to Prince George and Fort St. John to tattoo clients.
A recent client, Nathan Swetlikoff, met the artist five years ago when he was a guest artist at a local studio in Fort St. John.
Selvidge worked on Swetlikoff’s first tattoo, and when he left the local studio, Swetlikoff followed the artist on Facebook and Instagram.
Recently, he contacted Selvidge to set up another tattoo session.
Earlier this year, Swetlikoff travelled to Grande Prairie with his girlfriend, where they booked a hotel, and later had Selvidge start the tattoo.
He paid the artist $800 cash for a full day of tattooing, but Selvidge later asked if they can finish the piece the next day, to which Swetlikoff agreed.
“He’s like, ‘Hey since you’re going to be here first thing in the morning again, do you think you can give me that 600 cash?'” Swetlikoff said.
Swetlikoff says he agreed to send him an e-transfer right away since he had a history with him and Selvidge had already started on the new tattoo.
“It’s either I pay you now, or I pay at [10 a.m.] in the morning,” he said.
That night, when the couple was back at their hotel room, Selvidge messaged him and asked for another hundred dollars.
Both he and his girlfriend thought it was weird, but for the amount of work he had done and was going to do, he figured it was fair, so he gave Selvidge an extra $50 that night, Swetlikoff said.
The next morning, Swetlikoff received another message saying that Selvidge wanted to sleep in so he ‘asked’ to meet at 11 a.m.
He went to Selvidge’s house a little early and messaged him, saying he would wait outside until Selvidge was ready.
Selvidge started messaging him, trying to avoid the appointment.
Selvidge then started to tell him that he would pack up all of his stuff and come all the way to Fort St. John to finish his tattoo.
“He’s got nowhere to do it. He’s got no driver’s license. He’s got no way to get out here,” Swetlikoff said.
After a back and forth, with Swetlikoff trying to get a refund from Selvidge, he was told all the money was spent and he wouldn’t be getting it back.
Following the encounter and Swetlikoff’s Facebook post explaining his experience with Mason, he received death threats from the artist.
Swetlikoff says that his tattoo is now infected, on top of being unfinished.
Swetlikoff has offered to take down the post and write an announcement redeeming the artist if he is given his money back.
“He won’t do it. He will not do it,” Swetlikoff said.
Former Colleague says there were “red flags”
Selvidge’s former colleague, who wished to remain anonymous due to the aforementioned death threats, mentioned some of the “red flags” they noticed while working alongside him for six months.
The colleague couldn’t remember how the two came into contact, but they say he was very adamant that they had what it took to be a tattoo artist.
They explain that he was very charismatic and nice but knew precisely what he was doing to people, including taking a lot of money from her and another colleague.
They say that he would take deposits from people and then “drop from the face of the planet,” ignoring clients or even blocking them, similar to Swetlikoff’s experience with Selvidge.
He would also regularly only put work in on half of a tattoo, then take the money and stop responding to the client.
The colleague claims Selvidge opened his own shop under suspicious circumstances, renting a residential unit that he turned into a studio. They are unsure if Selvidge had permission from the landlord to do so.
They remember the conditions of the space as ” dirty.”
“I recognized it as a very dangerous place to get tattooed.”
If the two other colleagues didn’t get there three hours before clients came in, the place would be covered in dog hair, pee and beer bottles, they claimed.
“I had a lot of faith in him. I really did.”
As time went on, it became even less professional, and they say it took about six months for the two to decide that they needed to stop, and in response, he publicly slammed them on Facebook.
Selvidge is known, according to the colleague, to say he is leaving town to get more clients, but doesn’t always follow through.
“When you hurt people like that, I don’t know how you can sleep at night,” they said.
“He’s nice and lost. Very lost.”
“Waiting six hours to start the tattoo”
Another previous client of Mason’s, who also wanted to remain anonymous due to the death threats, had an experience that was similar to Swetlikoff’s.
Initially, she had heard about Mason through a local tattoo studio as well. Luckily, this client took meticulous notes to keep track of what she went through.
She says she “stupidly” prepaid for her tattoo, saying that her partner convinced her to do so to show Mason that she wanted him to do the work.
The tattoo was supposed to be a full sleeve and a cover-up.
Her negative experience with Selvidge started on October 20th, 2020, with her transferring $200 to him as a deposit.
The Fort St. John couple travelled to Grande Prairie on November 22nd to pay Selvidge $1,500 cash.
On the day of her first appointment, November 23rd, she says that one of the apprentices was just starting to tattoo someone else, and by the time Mason started her tattoo, the apprentice had fully finished with her client.
She says she arrived at the home studio at 10 a.m. but ended up sitting there for well over six hours before starting the tattoo.
“I have tattoos from other people, and I’ve never in my life experienced that before,” she said.
She says that Selvidge only tattooed her for a short period, approximately two hours, before saying he was starting not to feel well and wanted to stop.
After cancelling on December 12th, Selvidge continued working on her tattoo five days later before stopping again after two hours due to feeling ill.
Selvidge rescheduled on the client several times before seeing her on February 7th, 2021.
The client says she spent more time in her truck waiting for him than in his studio, explaining that once she was allowed in his home studio, it was a “complete waste of time.”
After waiting for Selvidge’s iPad to charge, he finally started tattooing the client before stopping again.
When he cancelled on her again on February 13th, she says she was finally finished with him.
He told her was having health issues and ended up in the hospital.
The client also mentions the cleanliness of Selvidge’s home studio, believing after the apprentices left is when the conditions got worse.
She adds that he went online after her second or third tattoo and made a Facebook post talking about how he was leaving Grand Prairie because everyone there “is a joke,” and no one appreciates him.
He later claimed that he couldn’t get into his Facebook or Instagram pages and used this as a reason for why he wasn’t responding to people.
She says he then deleted both accounts, changed his personal account’s last name and started a new Facebook page for his tattoos.
At one point, she says he offered an $800 refund, but then later refused.
In reference to her tattoo, she says it wasn’t what she wanted and that by the end of it all, the bottom part of her arm wasn’t completed. This is after Selvidge told her that $1,600 would cover the whole sleeve.
“He fought with me every single time about it,” she said about the content of her tattoo.
Initially, the client wanted to report Selvidge to the RCMP and health board but was “so emotionally drained and upset” that she didn’t want to deal with him anymore.
She says that it took her quite a while to trust another tattoo artist.
“The guy who tattooed me the next time, I just told him, I’m sorry if I’m being super picky, but I had a horrible experience with this guy, and he literally ruined it,” she concluded.
Energeticcity.ca reached out to Mason Selvidge and the local tattoo studio for a comment on this story. Both did not return our messages.
How to find reputable Tattoo Artist
To decrease the chances of having a negative tattooing experience, Chris Nikiforuk-Rhyason, owner of The Sterling Skull Studio in Grande Prairie, says to watch out for some red flags when going to new artists or shops.
With over 20 years in the industry, Rhyason says clients should research the artist or shop before booking an appointment.
Since there is no regulatory board for tattoo artists, issues of ethics and morals have been an issue.
Rhyason says that Grande Prairie is getting over-saturated with home-based tattoo artists.
“These guys tend to undercut each other and bid on work to the point that they don’t even make a dollar,” he explained.
Rhyason says to” trust your gut.”
“If you go and you meet someone and they’re very adamant about certain things, if you look at their portfolio and their artwork, it doesn’t quite add up or measure up for you, and they go overboard trying to sell it to you, then you might not want to go there,” he explained.
Rhyason says that clients don’t have to go to a place or person that makes them uncomfortable.
“Don’t go back there, because there are lots of people that would take [the work] on. They would love to help you, love to make you happy,” Rhyason said.
“That goes for artists too actually,” he added, “If an artist is at a shop where they’re feeling like they’re being compromised, there’s lots of places you can work. People will hire you.”
In late August of last year, he posted on social media about how his shop has been getting a steady stream of female clients coming in who are concerned due to experiencing a “disturbing” amount of sexual misconduct in Grande Prairie.
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