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Published on December 9, 2022.

By: Lavanya Kathirgamanathan

The city of Toronto is a hub of artistic industries which has preserved creative and talented people, and filled every part of the city with an artful atmosphere . From the brick wall murals, colourful and patterned garden displays, to art galleries, and to even street performances and festivals—there is often something to look at and find inspiration in.

Just like the city, its residents have taken to making their own bodies just as colourful and decorated. Tattooing and tattoo design has risen out of its reputation as an industry for alternative and rebellious citizens, into an art craft for all to enjoy. Sometimes original and sometimes imitative, tattoo artists create designs to permanently inject ink into the skin of their clients.

With many tattoo parlours to go to, there are only a few shops that are Black-owned in the city. It’s always hard to start a business in the city when there is competition on every block. Although there are plenty of tattoo parlors, there is an absence of artists who are not experienced as much with clients that are dark skinned.

Imarri Townsend, a Black Toronto tattoo artist who specializes in dark skin tattoos explained in an interview the right way to apply tattoos when it comes to clients who are darker skin toned.

Townsend explained that knowing your contrast and where to apply ink is very important and not to go deeper into the skin if it isn’t visible, which is a big misconception when it comes to applying tattoos on darker skin.

Townsend started tattooing after being unsatisfied by the amount of Black tattoo artists in the city and also realized there was a lack of understanding because the majority of tattoo artists are white people.

Here are three Black owned tattoo shops in Toronto you should check out to support the community!

Illustrative.TO

Location: 1769 Danforth Ave, Toronto

https://www.instagram.com/ill.to/

This tattoo parlour was opened up with a mission for clients to feel safe with their tattoos on darker complexions. Illustrative.TO is ran by RaShaun Collins and created a space for everyone to feel welcomed and comfortable in his shop.

Beeyond Ink Tattoo Studios

Location: 783 Lawrence Ave West, North York

https://www.instagram.com/beeyondink/?hl=en

Beeyond Ink is a modern tattoo studio located in the westend of Toronto. This place is only by appointment only and is a successful Black owned tattoo parlour with private rooms so clients can feel comfortable.

Tru Tattoo Studio

Location: 1250 Dupont St, Toronto

https://www.trutattooshop.com/the-artists

Tru Tattoo Studio created a tattoo parlour that is safe and sustainable for the Black, Indigenous, racialized and Queer of Trans tattoo artists. This is a BIPOC owned location that reflects such inclusivity in its staff. Their overall objective at Tru is to provide an experience where clients feel welcomed.

Keep supporting small Black-owned businesses!

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