History

Our Rainfire Tattoo Team understands the impact we make on our clients lives. Thus, customer care, expertise, and professionalism is of the utmost importance to us. We view tattooing as not simply giving someone a tattoo, but as a practice for changing lives in positive ways.


Our History: Rainfire Tattoo Lineage

Katia Somerville is the owner and main tattoo artist at Rainfire Tattoo, and opened the business at the current Vancouver location in 2012. She started her journey into tattooing in 2006, when she was apprenticed by Rowan Kimsey (Rain), who currently works in Portland OR.

Katia has successfully given apprenticeships to two talented tattoo artists (Vanessa Dong and Faye Basravi) and is currently mentoring her new apprentice, Kylie Faelan. Our artists’ lineage can be traced back over a century ago to legendary tattooists, Bert Grimm and his apprentice Don Deaton (founder and owner of Sea Tramp Tattoo, which is now the oldest existing tattoo shop in Portland, OR). See below for more information on our history and legacy.

Learn about the Tattoo Journey of Katia Somerville:


“To share the tattoo experience with people brings a sense of fulfillment and happiness, unlike any other.” -Katia

I had an eye for business at a young age. When I was five, I walked around the neighbourhood with hand-drawn pictures, knocked on doors and sold them for a dime or a cookie. During the last years of highschool, I started a business breeding and selling reptiles around the Okanagan in 1994. Then achieved a Bachelors of Education in year 2000. Teaching children in elementary schools for almost 10 years around Langley and Vancouver, I gravitated towards technology, and excelled in teaching children how to use computers.

In 2009, I took a leap from a stable job teaching at a prestigious private school to the uncertainty of tattooing from home. When originally introduced to the concept of being a tattoo artist, I had uncertainties. Yet, I felt drawn to creating art on the body and began bodypainting at parties and festivals. Soon afterwards, at 2006 Burning Man in the Body Art’s Guild, I connected with my mentor, and my life was changed forever. When I was offered a tattoo apprenticeship with Rain, who is like a sister to me now, it felt natural and right. I decided to jump with both feet… and the further I went, the more I realized the intricacies and complexities of tattooing.

I started my apprenticeship in 2006, teaching during the days and tattooing in the evenings. I attended conventions, tattooed overseas, and visited my mentor in Portland. As well, Rain moved to BC for about a year and we worked from my very clean and private home studio in Vancouver. I was getting busy with only word-of-mouth advertising, and an evolving social media presence. I found a love that I never thought possible with tattooing.

From 2007-2011, business picked up substantially, and I decided to look for a space to separate my home life from growing business. By this time, I had quit teaching and was enrolled in a full-time EI/government funded business course. After searching for months for the perfect space, I fell in love with the studio that is currently Rainfire Tattoo. However it was for sale, not for rent. I jumped on the rollercoaster, wrote a 70-page business plan, and went in front of a committee at the bank to convince them to invest. Luckily the local credit union, CCEC, was on board and they finally agreed to offer me a mortgage in 2012. I was determined to create a space different from the typical atmosphere of tattoo studios.

For the first couple of years, I tattooed out of the studio mostly alone, appreciating the close bond that could be established with the clients. Then I started to build a team of artists, and my style evolved to geometry and blackwork.

Now, many years later, I have had the honour to work alongside many amazing artists who’ve come through the doors of Rainfire Tattoo. You can find all current artist information on the artist page of this website.

As business thrived, I desired to draw from my own imagination more than reading what someone else’s vision was. Therefore, I began to create original designs that new clients can apply for via our Rainfire Tattoo Monthly Newsletter. (Custom designs still offered to returning clients.)

In 2019, I went through a difficult yet successful surgery, and decided it was time to hire a full time studio manager. There have been many receptionists over the years, however it was time to find someone to help run this business with a passion.

Now it’s 2020 and things have been really moving. I am so grateful to have found Molly to run the business and we make an excellent team. I also have a third apprentice (the first two are still going strong and I am so proud) and we are opening an online store with artistic clothing and other items. My art is always evolving as well; I am excited to lean toward art with a more organic feel, mixed with geometry. For more information about the business and how it has evolved, please check out past newsletter issues.

—- Thank you for reading. —-
<3 Katia Somerville

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