Asian tattoos have a special place in our culture at Chronic Ink. When we started out, we were a single shop doing Asian tattoos in a Markham mall. Today we’ve expanded with two more thriving locations in Toronto & Vancouver, offering all sorts of tattoo styles. But we still take pride in having the best Asian tattoo artists in Toronto & Vancouver.
About Asian Tattoos
Picturesque and bold, Asian tattoos have a vibrant history. In Japan, evidence suggests tattooing was common all the way back to the Palaeolithic era, as long ago as 10,500 B.C.! In Western China, tattooed mummies have been dated as far back as 2100 B.C.
The Asian tattoo style we recognize today, however, really dates back to the 18th century. The emergence of woodblock printing gave rise to major changes in the art form. Woodblock printing spread colourful heroic images from the Chinese novel, Suikoden, to the public.
The prints told the heroic story of 108 rebels and their adventures. The characters were shown with full body tattoos featuring the styles and motifs that are synonymous with Asian tattoos today. The demand for these tattoos was immediate, resulting in many woodblock artists becoming tattoo artists.
The art of irezumi (Japanese tattooing) from this era usually resulted in full body tattoos. Today, however, Japanese tattoo artists often perform these tattoos as back, shoulder, chest, hand, sleeve, or partial sleeve tattoos.
Asian Tattoo Motifs
While not everyone still embraces the full-bodied tattoos of Suikoden, our Asian tattoo artists still have frequent requests for the motifs and style. Most Asian tattoos feature the elements of either wind, waves, or fire. But the motifs incorporated can vary widely including:
- Koi Fish
- Flowers (Peonies/Lotus)
Asian Dragon Tattoos
Dragons are one of the most recognizable motifs in Asian tattoos. They are generally symbols of wisdom, strength, wind, water, and a force for good.
Koi Fish Tattoos
The Japanese word for Carp, Koi fish tattoos have a number of meanings depending on their colours and style. Commonly they symbolize overcoming adversity, inspired by a story about koi climbing a waterfall.
Asian Flower Tattoos
Asian flower tattoos contain a lot of meaning, with different flowers symbolizing different things. Among the most popular are the lotus and peonies. The lotus is an allegory for life, rising from the mud to become a beautiful flower. A Buddhist, “started from the bottom now we here,” story. It symbolizes, purity, long life, and honour.
Like the lotus, peonies represent the struggles of life. They are also symbols of luck, beauty, and wealth. They are often paired with other motifs like samurai and koi fish.
Samurai tattoos can contain a variety of meanings, but the main symbolism generally comes down to the attributes of a samurai, strength and courage. They are usually worn as large tattoos covering the full body, back, or sleeve.
Asian Phoenix Tattoos
In Western culture portrays the phoenix as a symbol of rebirth and life. In Asian tattoos, the phoenix is a powerful symbol of high virtue and grace. It is often depicted as the female balance to the masculine dragon.
Toronto & Vancouver’s Best Asian Tattoo Artists
Our studio is proud to host some of the best tattoo artists in Toronto & Vancouver. We have some of the city’s most talented artists of Asian tattoo styles and motifs. They provide traditional and neo-traditional styles. Some of our best Asian Tattoo artists include:
- Tommy Guo
- Patrick Paul O’Neil
Tommy Guo is one of the best artists of Asian tattoos in Toronto & Vancouver. He works expertly in black and grey as well as colour. His work is detailed and emotive.
CJ uses intricate detail and sharp contrasts to create visually striking Asian tattoos.
Louisa is talented at integrating her tattoos into the natural shape and flow of the body, making them look like they belong there.
Patrick Paul O’Neil
Patrick can perform Asian tattoos with modern stylization, or to mimic the styles of the Edo period.