Montreal

Quarantine diaries: When your work is deemed 'non-essential'

Tamsen Rae, a cosmetic tattooer and makeup artist, built her career based on her passion for art, beauty and making people feel better about themselves. Just as things were starting to go well, she was forced to close.

Tamsen Rae, a cosmetic tattooer and makeup artist in Montreal, hasn't seen a client in 2 months

Tamsen Rae says she wants to get get back to work, but not at the expense of community health. (Submitted by Tamsen Rae)

CBC Montreal wants to know how you are living these days. What are you doing differently? Have you realized or observed anything? What's on your mind as we head toward the summer months?

Here is the next instalment of our series, Quarantine diaries: Life in the time of COVID-19, written by Tamsen Rae, a comestic tattooer and makeup artist based in Montreal.


I'm a cosmetic tattooer and makeup artist. It's a career I've built on passion for art, beauty and making people feel better about themselves. I love my job and I know my clients greatly appreciate what I do for them. I never thought of it as being so "non-essential" until recently.

It's been two months since I saw my last client. I stopped counting the weeks since I've made money. I had to send out mass emails rescheduling the appointments of my totally understanding and cooperative clients, only to have to cancel them.

I was making a name for myself in Montreal, doing something I genuinely adore, and business was good — then everything changed. I know my situation is far from the worst, but it's harsh and uncertain and that's scary.

I'm scared because I know the position I'm in. Before, I worked in close proximity to people. Now, it's too close. I'm scared that even when I can open my business again, the gloves and masks and disinfectant I need to perform my job safely might not be available.

I'm paying rent for a studio space I currently can't use and am running out of savings. I want to get back to work, but not at the expense of our community's health.

I'm worried about our local economy and what this means for Montreal's artists, restaurants, and other charming small businesses that make living in this city so special. So for anyone reading this: please stay home, shop local, support the arts, and hang in there.

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