We wake up everyday because we want to do the best art tattoos in the world.
Yes, it’s an ambitious goal, but it’s all we care about. And we are grateful for the many people who have allowed us to be a part of their stories — the stories that are told on the best canvas in the world — the human body.
Therapy for the Soul
As the co-founder of Chronic Ink Tattoos, I can safely say working with you — your inspiration, your ideas, and your memories — is a privilege we will never take lightly. We are a family of artists that have found a way to satisfy our need to create.
We’ve heard that “Tattoos is therapy for the soul”, and we can say that is as true for us as it is for our clients. Many know us as the most authentic Asian tattoo shop in Toronto, but spend some time in Our Gallery, and you’ll see that we have grown to become even more than our reputation would suggest.
Over the past few years, we’ve journeyed from a little known studio in Markham — to a reputable tattoo house with some of the most passionate and talented tattoo artists in Toronto, and dare I say, the world.
We started Chronic Ink on August 8, 2008. The honeymoon didn’t last long as we quickly discovered that getting work was a lot harder than we thought.
Our first studio was inside the Pacific Mall in Markham. To put it lightly, Markham was not exactly the destination for tattoos in ‘08, and on top of that, we were the new kids on the block. I remembered too many days where we would just sit around, hoping that work will walk through our doors. It didn’t seem like change was coming, and I’m sure we all quietly doubted whether we were going to make it.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2010 when we had our “ah-ha” moment and our first break through. We decided to get a booth at the NIX – Toronto’s tattoo convention. The show features a lot of amazing international talent so just getting in was reassurance that our art was good enough.
We didn’t have clients at the show so Tristen decided to tattoo me. I remembered him telling me that it would be my birthday present. We had never talked about my tattoo before and I didn’t know what I wanted but something about that moment made me not care.
The only thing that I cared about was that we would try to do something – anything. Looking back, I think Tristen and I both knew the tattoo was never about my arm, it was about our studio, our survival, and what we could mean to the world. Tristen took out a pen and started to freehand on my arm. After a few mins, I asked what he was drawing, he said ‘Foo Dog’. That was it, just “Foo Dog”.
We barely talked throughout the whole thing. We both placed a lot of pressure on our coming out piece. We finished around 6pm, just in time to enter it for the ‘Tattoo of the Day’ contest. I knew we had something special because everyone was staring and taking photos of my arm as I was making my way around the convention. It was the next few moments that defined who we are today, they made us realize something about ourselves that was not apparent before.
The next few moments took away our doubts and gave us belief. We were one of two finalists for the award. It was my arm and an amazing koi fish rib piece by an artist from Norway. Since they only had one trophy and they couldn’t decide between the two, they decided they would do a coin flip.It sounds crazy but I swear I knew we were going to win. I was already planning for the future. This tattoo opened my eyes. For the first time, I can see for certain that we were better than what we were doing. I believed we were going to make it.
After that day, we decided we would do things differently. We weren’t just going to be another ‘one of the studios’ in Toronto. We weren’t going to do things like everyone else. We would rethink every part of the game and try to redefine everything from the art itself, right down to our apprentice programs. We are going to push ourselves to improve everyday, and as our journey continues, we ask that you allow us to be a part of your journey – so that you can be a part of ours.
“Wear your heart on your skin in this life.”
— Sylvia Plath