Ink inspiration

Review: Mom’s Tattoo Shop

When Mom’s Tattoo Shop arrived in Waterloo in 2010, I headed in with a friend to check it out and was impressed by the cleanliness of the waiting area and the friendliness of the receptionist. Their prices seemed reasonable. I wasn’t yet ready to book an appointment, but I took a card and told myself to consider them in the future.

Being far away from my home shop, I liked the vibe at Mom’s and thus made the mistake of not shopping around when it came to my new tattoo in April.

Despite the really awesome reputation that Mom’s has garnered over the past few months, I witnessed none of the warmth and hospitality others had boasted. However, in retrospect many of my friends who have praised Mom’s had been tattoo virgins with zero outside reference.

My artist, Gord, had zero interest or input in my design, which didn’t bother me for this particular design as it was simply a piece of script, but I can’t help but feel that he would have gone ahead and done it even if it had been in Comic Sans.

During the work I found the artist to be cold and unresponsive, which is a style that doesn’t work for me. Some people need conversation to loosen up, and feeling like you are getting to know your artist is a great relief when tense. He only spoke once or twice to somewhat rudely ask me to move over.

The work was beautiful and done exactly how I wanted it. While the price was completely fair (I would have paid more with my first artist) I was disappointed that tax was not included in my original estimate.

Mom’s may be a very “pretty” location, but squeaky-clean floors and an immaculate waiting area are not the be-all and end-all in tattoo shopping. I will not be returning.

Bottom line: Mom’s is home to beautiful artwork, but if you’re looking for a friendly artist, go somewhere else.

Grade: C+

Bree Rody-Mantha

Review: Tora Tattoo

My first experience at Tora Tattoo was also my first experience getting a tattoo. I had quite a few friends who had gotten work done at Tora and felt confident that they would be a good choice.

The desk staff was very kind to me and always remembered me whenever I came in. They also made sure to not make me feel alienated or like a loser because I was new to tattoos. The tattoo shop itself, being a converted home, also felt really inviting and warm.

When it came time to work out my design I had a bit of trouble with my artist Craig. He was initially eager to work with me. However, we had different expectations of each other. I expected Craig to take my design and add something personal to it, assuming that a professional tattoo artist would know what looks good in tattoos better than I would. Craig, however, just wanted to take my drawings and directly translate them into a tattoo.

Though I am happy with what I got, I now know that a bigger and more expensive shop would have done what I wanted, and that’s what I did for my second tattoo.

Tora is a very good local shop and is probably more than good enough for most tattoos, but they aren’t the kind of shop to create great works of art.

Bottom line: Tora is an inviting and comfortable, but don’t expect a lot of artist input.

Grade: A-

Matt Fesnak

Review: Ink Obsession

On a Saturday afternoon earlier this fall, with nothing but money to burn and time to kill, I trekked through downtown Kitchener in hopes of finding a place that would offer me a walk-in appointment for a new tattoo I had been planning.

I left the house with my music blasting in hopes of finding a satisfactory tattoo shop — the kind that my mother would approve of. After venturing into a handful of shops and only receiving a tentative offer to get my tattoo done the next day I became discouraged and almost gave up on the notion of getting a tattoo that day, when, to my luck, I stumbled upon Ink Obsession on Princess St. in Kitchener located very close to the Charles St. bus terminal.

Within a few minutes of being in the shop I had booked a time to come back later that day to get my tattoo done by an artist named Cloud. Upon returning to the shop later that night I met with Cloud.

The best thing about Ink Obsession and Cloud was the atmosphere that they created. Cloud played some very aggressive punk, was wearing some classic black Doc Martens and was pretty much the most bad-ass guy I had ever met.

Aesthetics aside, he was also an extremely helpful artist. We worked out the design together and after a few stencil placings he got to work on my tattoo as I barraged him with a plethora of questions about the shop, his job and the equipment. We had a great conversation during the 20 minutes it took to complete my tattoo.

In the end, my tattoo looked far better than I had ever expected. The shop was clean, the environment was relaxing and the artist’s talent surpassed my expectations. Without a doubt I will be going back to Ink Obsession to get my next tattoo.

Bottom line: Ink Obsession is accommodating and features artists who will work with you to create your perfect tattoo.

Grade: A+

Seamus Townsend

Review: Tall Ship Tattoos

Last November I got my first tattoo at Tall Ship Tattoo in Uptown Waterloo. What attracted me to Tall Ship was the interior of the shop, which was clean, well decorated and didn’t look like the typical grungy tattoo shop that I had envisioned.

Being a student, finances are always a concern, so I opted to get tattooed by the apprentice, Chris. Seeing as I was new to the tattoo game, I essentially gave him creative control of my piece.

Being a person who religiously watched Miami and LA Ink, I was expecting him to be chatty and ask me personal questions about why I chose to get the tattoo. Unfortunately it was not quite like TV and I basically sat in complete silence with the exception of the buzzing of the needle.

Chris was undoubtedly a friendly person, but the social aspect of his job didn’t seem very apparent to him.

The tattoo was obviously painful, but because he was an apprentice and heavy-handed it was more painful than necessary, which was off-putting for a first-timer. I still do not regret choosing the apprentice as 85 dollars is an incredibly reasonable price considering the size of the piece and the time the artist took to design it. However, if I could do it again I would choose a more social and experienced artist to work with.

In the end what matters to me is my tattoo, which I am very pleased with. However, the social experience left something to be desired.

Bottom line: Tall Ship’s artists are talented, but it is important to meet with the artist beforehand and get to know them.

Grade: B

Kate Turner

Tattoo tips for first-timers

• It’s more important to want the design than to just want any tattoo.

• Your shop should be clean and meet health standards, obviously, but the reputation of the artist is more important than the reputation of the shop. If a shop has multiple artists, check every artist’s portfolio and ask for the artist you want the most.

• You can never afford to not shop around.

• Asking your friends where they got their tattoo is not the same as shopping around.

• Don’t go cheap, but know that the most expensive is not necessarily the best.

• If you intend to give blood in the near future, do it before you get your tattoo – otherwise, you’ll have to wait six months.

• Make it clear at the consultation whether or not you want the artist to have a part in the creative process. Listen to his or her suggestions.

• Understand that if you want a lot of detail in a tattoo, you may not be able to keep it small.

• Remember that you will bleed when getting a tattoo, so don’t wear anything nice or white.

• Have absolutely no alcohol in your system before getting a tattoo. The same goes for aspirin-based medication. Anything which thins your blood can be dangerous.

• It may seem obvious, but food and rest are essential before getting a tattoo. Several artists recommend an increased intake in vitamin C for several days before and after your piece is done to assist with the healing process.

• Pain is different for everyone and is difficult to predict. Many speculate that the areas where you are most ticklish will hurt the most, as those areas have the most nerve endings.

• Never let pain be the deciding factor in where you get your tattoo.

• It never hurts to run things through a spell-checker before you get them tattooed.

• It also never hurts to run any foreign words or characters through Google Translate.

• Tip your artist. 15 to 20 percent is customary.

• When you first remove the bandage, do not wash the area; wipe it clean with a tissue.

• Tattoos must be under constant moisture for up to two weeks after the initial inking. Make sure that both your moisturizer and your soap are unscented. Naturally-derived formulas work best.

• Once you’ve had your tattoo for awhile, it never hurts to keep moisturizing it as you would the rest of your skin.

• Sun protection is just as important – tattoos will become faded over time due to sun exposure.

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