Tattoos have surged in popularity of the last decade or so, turning from a subcultural signifier to a mainstream artform in a matter of years. The people of London have caught this trend and are getting inked all over the place, resulting in a plethora of tattoo parlors creating custom masterpieces to cover the skin of Londoners. It should be noted that tattoos are incredibly subjective, like any art. As such, you personally may not like the style of tattoo you see at every place on this list, but someone else will! Regardless of your personal style preferences, everyone can agree that these artists are endlessly talented. Getting an appointment at any of these parlors may be tough, there’s often a decently long waiting period, but you may be lucky and catch a walk-in opportunity on occasion, so following their social media is definitely worth it, beyond seeing their fantastic creations of course!
The Taste of Ink tackles two important aspects to physical appearance – tattoos and hair. Owned by husband and wife team Aimee and Aaron Allen, Taste of Ink has been giving London extra aesthetic flair since the beginning of 2012 in Soho. There are four artists at the Taste of Ink, including the two owners, each with their own distinct styles. Depending on what you’re looking for, you may want to go to one specifically, but you’re almost guaranteed to find something you like within those four walls. Aimee, with over a decade of tattooing experience, is incredibly adaptable. She can take on a variety of styles, from photorealistic to traditional Japanese. Her use of colour is eye-catching, either incorporated into the whole piece or used as an accent to make a certain element pop in an otherwise black and grey piece. Learning from great artists over the last few years, Aaron is coming into his own as a tattoo artist. Aaron’s brilliant use of colour attracts the eye. Many of his pieces use traditional line and shading styles in new ways or on non-traditional subjects, such as a tooth with a monacle or a pineapple sunset. Their third artist, Heather Autumn, has gorgeous modern flair, using stippling and sketch-style lines in many of her pieces, giving her tattoos a rustic, yet refined appearance. She’s also got classic styles locked down, having a portfolio full of beautiful grey wash tattoos and American traditional-style pieces. And last, but definitely not least, Taylor Brodbeck, who beautifully captures classic imagery on skin. Her portfolio is full of mandalas, flowers, and sugar skulls, but she’s always interested in taking your ideas and bringing them to life with you. The Taste of Ink has four incredibly talented tattoo artists, not to even mention their hair stylists. They offer a clean, welcoming environment that is open to people that are already covered in ink or someone looking for their first tattoo.
Hangar 18 is the place to find crowd favourite, Dave Schultz, tattoo veteran of over 20 years, Sean Strouse, and newer face on the team, Melanie Wayland. Posted up in their parlor on Richmond Row, these two gentlemen have made a name for themselves creating gorgeous art using the body as a canvas in our Forest City. Having over two decades of experience, Sean is able to employ a variety of styles that a customer may want. From traditional bold lines to stylized characters to photorealistic shading in black and grey. Dave is similarly versatile. His hands can create impeccable shading technique with both greys and colours and linework is detailed, whether the lines are bold or fine. He has even recreated comic book panels to great effect. Melanie’s style is both modern and classic. She often utilizes the classic, bold-lined style for tattoos with non-traditional subjects, such as a sloth in pajamas or an adorable bunny. Consult with her on your ideas or pick from her extensive group You can feel confident in the fact that you’ll end up with a great new piece when you make an appointment with any of the artists at Hangar 18.
Addictive Tattoo is a downtown tattoo parlor named for Jason “Addictive Jay” Wojceik. He and his partner, Jacqui Gallant, opened the store together in 1996. Tragically, Jason passed in 2012, but his memory lives on every day at their Dundas tattoo parlor that carries his name. Jacqui Gallant still owns and operates the parlor, also acting as the piercing specialist. As one of, if not the most experienced body piercers in the city, with over 20 years of experience, your piercing is guaranteed to have proper placement of the jewelry. She also offers a checkup appointment within a month of piercing to ensure proper healing. Working alongside Jacqui are a team of eight incredible tattoo artists with styles ranging from American traditional to dark realism to anime-inspired. Their team includes: Stevie Boy is a blackwork specialist known for bold lines, with art that harkens back to the early 20th Century and Victorian era. Pete Vanderheide, a veteran of over a decade with a particularly keen eye for detail and texture. Debbie Mellor, with 15 years of tattooing under her belt, has a refined style dubbed “candy heart traditional” – a combination of American traditional, anime, and Debbie’s love of cute things. Destiny Hendricks is a newer tattoo artist with incredible talent, inspired by a variety of styles, including realism, neotraditional, and new school. Dylan MacNeil is a jack of all trades, including realistic blackwork and American traditional, that will never let your tattoo experience be dull. Malibu Budd, a self-taught tattooer with over 10 years of experience. Her horror-inspired realistic style is always in high demand. Mike Rodrigue, originally from New Orleans, uses his southern roots to inspired his traditional American style, with a dash of traditional Japanese influence. With such a large and diverse team, Red Door Tattoo is a go-to for any style of tattoo you could dream of. From realistic to abstract to cute, they’ve got you covered. It’s safe to say that Addictive Jay would be proud.
Stay True Tattoo is a little out of the way in St. Thomas, but it’s more than worth heading down to check out these guys. Since it opened in 2009, three artists have called Stay True home – Kate, Matt, and Rich, who also owns the joint. Rich is essentially self-taught. He started tattooing at the age of 17, long before he realized this would become his career path. Eventually, Bonnie at Lucky Devil Tattoo in London took him under her wing and sharpened Rich’s raw talent. Inspired by a wide variety of other artists, Rich’s style is eclectic and varied. American traditional and blackwork are his most common, though he loves to experiment. Kate, also known as Keight and K8 on their website, learned the basics out in British Columbia before returning to Ontario in 2012. Rich helped her to develop her own style and hone her skills. She has a special affection for tattooing cute animals and highly stylized pin-up girls. Her lines are incredibly bold and crisp, and her colour palettes are bold, though often unorthodox for the traditional American or Japanese style she is employing. And finally, we have Matt. He got his start in 2007 as an apprentice at Lucky Devil, where he met Rich. After seven years of him gaining experience, he ended up back with Rich again here at Stay True, only this time, he was a full tattoo artist. Matt concentrates on a traditional style, bordering on neo-traditional. From black and grey to bold colours, Matt is excited to bring your desired tattoo to life. Also found in Stay True is the equal and opposite to the tattoo industry. Clean Slate Laser Studio is owned and operated by Casi, Stay True’s office manager. She offers laser tattoo and hair removal to allow you to “clean the slate” as it were. Whether you’re in St. Thomas and looking to stay local, or a Londoner that isn’t afraid to use a little gas to get top tier body art, Stay True Tattoo is definitely a great place to check out for your tattoo needs.
Getting ready to celebrate their 20th anniversary next year, Legacy Tattoo and Piercing is one of the mainstays of the London tattoo community. They’ve been at their location by the intersection of Oxford and Richmond since 1999, and they show no signs of getting up and moving. Their team of artists and piercers are top notch, even including a laser removal technician for any older tats you aren’t exactly in love with anymore. Tara Nurse uses bold, sometimes sketch-like, lines and brilliant colours. She seems like the go-to woman for avian tattoos, having her Instagram chock full of birds of all sorts, from sparrows to geese. Andrew Trueman works mostly in blacks and greys, doing amazing shading with stippling and lines. When he does dabble in colour, it does not disappoint. The blending of colours is magnificent. Sammy DeCaen is known for his black and grey realism, able to recreate portraits with insane accuracy and detail. Whether you’re looking for a lion, a rose, a portrait of a family member, or Optimus Prime, Sammy can give you the truest to life tattoo you’ve ever seen! Kaley Myers does fantastic line art for the simple, elegant look, with minimal or extensive shading. Many of her designs have a floral focus, but she also has an intriguing abstract series of tattoos where people’s faces are replaced with landscapes. Zack Zager’s neotraditional style utilizes the bold lines and stippled shading of yesteryear with both traditional and nontraditional subjects. He’s tattooed classics such as anchors, roses, and sparrows, but also creates modern, polygonal pieces with the same bold style. The Legacy Tattoo team is welcoming to all tattoo fans, aiming to give everyone the perfect new piece, whether it’s one of many or the start of a new collection.
With five resident tattoo artists, the Golden Axe Tattoo parlor in Old South is one of the best in town. Owner Dane Snyder jumps between Japanese and American traditional style, often blending the two in a single piece. Bold lines and bright colours are his trademark. Mykie Rice’s explosive colours are nothing if not awesome. They almost appear to jump off the skin with their vibrance, and surely won’t be fading any time soon. Jen Blackwood is a talented tattooer with great blackwork, utilizing the contrast of blank skin and of pure black to her advantage. Chris Ludgate is a master of blacks and greys, creating astounding pieces with no colour in sight. Using a combination of stippling and hatching to create interesting textures and shades. Morgan MacDonald splits his time between London and Toronto, which makes it a bit tougher to get an appointment with him, but it’s worth the wait. His personality comes through in his quirky pieces, but it’s not only goofs and giggles with his art. His serious pieces are seriously beautiful, and most anyone would agree. Golden Axe Tattoo has a large group with diverse abilities. Depending on what you’re after, you would be in great hands going to any of these five.
Red Door Tattoo is another unmissable Richmond Row tattoo parlor. The shop was opened in 2014 by Zach Pero, who also acts as one of the tattoo artists in the shop. You’ll also find Chris Price at Red Door, making intricate and beautiful pieces. Owner Zach Pero will knock your socks off with his designs – stylized portraits or plant life are two popular subjects for his flash art. His lines are some of the cleanest in the game right now, and his colour palettes are always beautiful. Chris has a varied style, able to create statuesque works in black and grey or quirky pieces with a blast of colour. Either way, you’ll be greatly impressed by Chris’ talents. The two gentlemen at Red Door are creating masterpieces, so book an appointment with one of them now if you can!