Results tagged “Canada”

09:06 AM
feather bird tattoo.jpg

Despite tattooing being an ancient art that spans millennia, there are indeed tattoo "trends" whereby certain motifs or just general styles are highly popular at a given time, such as 90s Neotribal or color realism portraits of Gwen Stefani in the early 2000s.

In a cool twist to exploring what are popular contemporary tattoo designs today, the National Post published "The Illustrated Guide to Tattoo Trends Across Canada." It's a fun piece in which tattooers across Canada were asked what they get asked to tattoo most, and then Andrew Barr illustrated them.

For example, a number of artists mentioned the "feathers-turning-into-bird silhouettes" (shown above), which I've been seeing myself everywhere. In fact, I just did a quick Google image search of "feathers turning into birds tattoo" and all of these came up. Then there are the ubiquitous Heath Ledger as the Joker tattoos, and the side finger tattoos (Thanks, Rihanna!).

It would be great if someone would really delve into what makes certain images so popular that they become full-on trends; meanwhile, the NP article is a quick and cute read.
joker tattoo.jpg
10:04 PM
Mikel_Johnson_haida_tattoo.jpgMikel_Johnson_tattoo.jpgAs I finish up the second volume to my very first book, Black Tattoo Art, I'm really enjoying pouring over the hundreds and hundreds of images of neotribal, blackwork, dotwork, ornamental, abstract and traditional tattoo art. I'll be highlighting a number of artists from the book here, in addition to those I've profiled in the past.

Let's start the new year with the work of Mikel Johnson of 4 Truths Tattoo Sangha in Victoria, B.C., Canada.

Tattooing since 1996, Mikel more recently opened up his new studio 4 Truths Tattoo Sangha, where he tattoos largely in tribal and blackwork, although he says that he happily works with clients on other ideas if he feels he can do the piece justice. 

As he notes on his site, Sangha is a word in Pali and Sanskrit meaning association, assembly or community. The tattooist and Reiki Master has a strong passion for the sacred and communal aspects of tattooing and that comes forth in his work.

I spoke with Mikel about his studio and work. Here's a bit from our chat:

What is the vibe of the studio like?

Comfortable and really mellow. I wanted the studio to be really unwanted distractions. I guess it's maybe inevitable that I wanted to work in the kind of environment that I, personally, like to be in and get tattooed in. That's what I have done.

What is your particular approach to tribal and blackwork work?

Honestly, I think I am still learning this. I find I look at a lot of old reference. I truly stand on the shoulders of a lot of giants. I think, right now, my style may come out in how I visually balance things. I am not sure I will ever be done working at trying to make it my own, maybe that's why I like this style of tattooing so much. There are so many subtle layers to this work.

What do you love about this style of tattooing and tattooing in general?

It's hard to put into words what I love about these styles of tattooing. It just makes sense to me, feels right to me. Given the time, I would ramble on about this for longer than I should. I think there is a point in a tattooer's career where they find a style they really love working in. I feel fortunate enough to have found mine. Tattooing is maybe one of the last things that is still magical. The whole process is really quite amazing. It's such a unique and human experience. How can you not love that?

What's the best way to make an appointment?

The best way to reach me is by email: info [at] As I am a one-man show, I find it works best.

Any conventions or guest spots coming up?

Right now, I haven't any solid plans to work conventions. I am looking to work the Edmonton convention next year, and I would love to go to the Montreal convention as well. Internationally, I think the Tattoo Convention in Nepal would be amazing to go see. Who knows? Maybe I will try and make that work somehow.
For now, my main focus is getting the studio running smoothly.

Final thoughts?

I feel fortunate. Thanks to my wife April, my clients, and all my friends that support and encouraged me to do what I do. Be good to each other. We are all more connected than we think.

Mikel - 4 Truths Tattoo Sangha
#31 - 532 Herald St. * buzz #133
Victoria B.C.
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mikel mandala.jpg
09:46 AM
tattoo typo.jpg
Misspelled tattoos are not uncommon. Sadly. And unlike the many tiepoos typos that pepper this blog, they are not as easily fixed by the delete button. Diligent artists take care to check and double check text before tattooing, offering clients opportunities to make sure the word or phrase is exactly what they had in mind. But mistakes still happen -- and tattoo studios get sued.

In Canada's National Post yesterday, Armina Ligaya reports on a memorial tattoo gone wrong where a Nova Scotia small claims court ordered a shop to pay almost $9,000 to a client for laser sessions, travel and legal fees, and general damages. This is after the shop offered to cover up the spelling mistake -- which the client refused -- and then paid for eight laser sessions prior to the judgment.

The problem is that the studio stopped paying for the laser sessions, which is what sparked the suit. Personally (not in my legal opinion), if a shop is going to make amends for a mistake, it should do so in a clear and organized way, following through on promises, which should be written out and agreed to by the parties. For example, knowing how long and expensive laser removal can be, the studio could have limited its obligation by offering to pay for a set number of sessions -- say 10 to 12 sessions -- or until a certain percentage of the ink is gone. Then they could have had the client agree not pursue further action against the shop after those sessions. Everybody signs. Everybody knows what to expect. And hopefully, everybody abides by the agreement.

The client, who had the opportunity to review the lettering before it was tattooed, should also burden some responsibility, and maybe that's what the studio was thinking when they stopped paying. In fact, the article cites another Nova Scotia case where a judge ruled that a client with a misspelled tattoo was "the author of her own misfortune" when she reviewed the design on a computer design and stencil, and did not pick up the mistake. 

But not returning the client's phone calls, as alleged, is not the right way to do business. People sue when they are unhappy and feel they're being mistreated. So many law suits can be avoided by better handling of client issues ... and of course, spell check. 
01:52 PM

In response to my personal motto, "I rather be snotty than get stupid tattoos," the members of the Canadian punk band Cold Warps have released this video as an homage to bad choices. But the laugh is on me as I cannot get that "Stupid Tattoos" song outta my head all day. I also see it becoming an anthem for hipsters everywhere.

As reported by Halifax's The Coast, Cold Warps are re-releasing their first two EPs as a full LP on Noyes Records. For more on Cold Warps, check their Facebook page
11:26 AM
eagle skull tattoo.jpgTattoo by Rick Daignault.

With greater acceptance of tattooing and also greater competition, studios have been stepping up their game to present their work and attract new clients in wonderfully creative ways. [We recently posted Nazareno Tubaro's video, which parodied the TV show Dexter.]

In another beautifully produced ad -- one that brings the old school sexy back -- Mata Mata studios in Hamilton and Cambridge, Ontario have created this smokin video (below) with photographer Brooks Reynolds.

The video has a definite allure; now let's see just who it lures into Mata Mata.

For a bit of background, Rick Daignault opened up Mata Mata in Hamilton, Ontario in February 2007. Since then, the shop has grown with the additions of Kevin Urie, Darryl Hart, Craig Grainger, Jon Gray, Dana Wood, Thomas Penny, and their receptionist Keosha Blaine, whom they say makes the artists' lives much easier. [I love it when artists give props to their receptionists and managers. It's still rare these days.] In November 2010, Mata Mata opened their second location in Cambridge, Ontario.

All the artists use the hand-made machines built by Rick himself. You can check Mata Mata's Facebook page for a look at his handiwork. You'll also see more tattoo work from each artist in their individual photo sets.

hand tattoo.jpgHand tattoo by Kevin Urie.
04:56 PM

Here's a tattoo pursuit making me love Canadians even more: The Two Dollar Tattoo Project.

In essence, it's a challenge to inspire tattooists to create works beyond their comfort zone and then share their creations online. It's also a way for shy collectors to get an artful little tattoo without the big reveal. And for me, it's another part of my tattoo voyeurism as I love seeing blog updates of work coming in that are fun and well done.

The project is founded by "eccentric curmudgeons" Philip Barbosa from Stick & Poke, George Brown and Matt Ellis of Seven Crowns Tattoo, and Alie K. at TCB Tattoo Parlour. Let me let them tell you the details of Two Dollar Tattoo:

"All artists participating will be expected to create unique works of tattoo art executed with only a single needle (as in single-needle configuration, No cheating using a round or a mag for any of the tattoo!). Line-work, shading, colour...all must be executed with the same needle! The size of the final product will be expected to fill the space of a "toonie", a Canadian two-dollar coin (approximately 28mm or 1 1/8" in diameter). The artist should utilize all of the space within the circle since in this case its not just size that matters. The Two Dollar Tattoo Project is expected to be both a game of camaraderie as well as a professional courtesy for artists and industry people. The only monetary exchange for the tattoo is to be a shiny Canadian $2 coin, which can be used for sizing of the drawing and final stencil, and MUST be utilized as proof of compliance with the set parameters."

The video above (found here on YouTube) shows how it's done. More details can be found on the site's right sidebar.

And as for how these tattoos heal and will age (that is, will the lines spread into each other becoming a two dollar blob) ... well, here's their answer.  
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