'It's wearable art': Yukon woman gets tattoo of Jim Robb artwork

She’s not the first — at least two others in Whitehorse have been tattooed with Robb’s art, which is synonymous with the Yukon for many visitors.

She’s not the first — at least two others have been tattooed with Robb’s art

'I serve Jim Robb at the Gold Pan Saloon almost every day,' said Shannon Harvey, pictured here getting Robb's artwork tattooed across her back. (Abby Schneider/CBC)

Beloved Whitehorse artist Jim Robb clearly has an effect on people.

Not one, not two, but three servers at the city's Gold Pan Saloon have come to know the man well — and subsequently tattooed his artwork on their body.

"I serve Jim Robb at the Gold Pan Saloon almost every day," said Shannon Harvey, the latest to join the ranks. "I sat down and talked with him ... and we developed an idea for a plan for a tattoo on my back."

Harvey took the plan to Dan Bushnell at Whitehorse's Molotov and Bricks Tattoo, who knew the drill — he had tattooed two other servers with Robb's art before.

"They get to know him as a person, and [are] like, 'you know what, this is something that I really want to have with me, for always,'" he said.

Robb's art is a familiar sight in the territory. The Order of Canada winner's work is a common collectible for Yukoners, Bushnell said, and among the first things noticed by newcomers to town.

Bushnell said it's 'an honour' to tattoo Jim Robb's work. "He helps define the Yukon for people visiting," he said.

"He helps define the Yukon for people visiting," said Bushnell. "I've been looking at it since I was a little kid."

Robb coined the phrase "the colourful five per cent" to describe the small moments of beauty he aimed to capture — historic buildings and vibrant characters he brings to life in ink, watercolour, and pastel.

"He doesn't just draw a historic place, but he imagines the historic place as it was when somebody occupied it," said Bushnell, "right down to the little rocking chair on the front deck."

Harvey's tattoo, of a wood cabin, exemplifies the style. It's likely based on a real-life cabin, Bushnell said, but has been brought to life, with smoke pumping out of a stocky chimney and an axe resting in a chopping block outside.

A close-up look at Shannon Harvey's Jim Robb tattoo. (Abby Schneider/CBC)

Harvey says she "grew up watching Jim Robb doing his art all over town."

"I … always just kind of loved his work," she said. "This is a way that I get to take it around with me everywhere I go."

Harvey said Robb was "pretty excited" to hear another Yukoner was putting his artwork on permanent exhibition in their personal gallery.

"He always likes to see his work around," said Harvey.

"It's wearable art for me," she said. "I just get to take my favourite things around with me, on my body."

With files from Abby Schneider


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?