From pink triangles to pansies, pop culture to politics, tattooing and queerness go hand-in-hand. Queer Ink is a seven-part series on queerness and tattooing, where we’ll dive deep into the ways that queer and trans people use tattooing to embody ourselves and identities.
In the final installment, we spotlight 20 artists across Canada to inspire your next work of art.
Winter is the best time to get tattooed. Not only are we all covered up (and safe from sunburn), but artists often have free space in their schedules as people cancel appointments due to holidays or illness. Plus there’s often a well-meaning bit of holiday money from some relative or another lying around. And what better to spend that on than a new tattoo?
With that in mind, three Xtra writers have rounded up 20 queer and trans tattooers across Canada to have on your radar, and hopefully inspire your next ink. And remember, this list is just a starting point! Head out into your community and seek out some rad local artists to support year-round. Ask your artists who their favourite artists are!
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Tattooing out of queer-run Outlaw Country Tattoo in Halifax, Toma specializes in highly detailed black and grey fine-line and dot-work pieces. They offer custom designs and pre-drawn flash of their intricate artwork inspired by themes of nature, folklore and mythology.
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Bannerman tattoos out of Ironside Tattoo & Piercing in the island city of Charlottetown, working in both traditional and neo-traditional styles to bring to life eccentric and classic designs alike. Alongside two other Charlottetown artists, he hosted a tattoo fundraiser last July that raised over $5,500 for the PEI Transgender Network.
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St. John’s, Newfoundland
“The sillier the better” is the motto for this St. John’s-based artist. MacNeil tattoos in both blackwork and colour, with whimsical and nostalgia-inducing designs that are sure to make you smile or at least ask yourself, do I need a tattoo of a cat playing the piano?
Frizzell’s style can be described as Afro-Americana, which is a Black twist on traditional American tattoos. Their work features Black women with voluminous afros, or creatures like scorpions, butterflies and panthers. They specialize in tattooing dark, melanated skin.
Hadejia’s expertise is in intricate blackwork pieces. Her work often includes fine-line florals, complexly drawn bugs and ornate designs.
Gomboc’s specialty is florals, particularly on bodies not often represented by your average tattoo artist. Their black-and-white designs cover and enhance large, round bellies, stretch marks and top surgery scars.
Jónsson’s take on illustrative neo-traditional tattoos makes them an extremely popular Ottawa tattoo artist. Often booked up months in advance, Jónsson’s tattoos are large, colourful and often whimsical. They recently opened their own shop, called In Bloom Tattoo Collective.
Bold, colourful, vibrant—that’s the type of work you’ll see on Cassidy’s page. From cute Pokémon to fearsome anime demons, Cassidy is excellent at re-creating large, bright manga panels.
Employing a bright and hand-drawn style, D’Angelo has become beloved in Toronto’s queer and trans tattooing scene. Their work touches on art history, queer culture and nature to create a distinctive style.
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Featuring elaborate blackwork florals and playful creatures, Schmid is a highly sought-after artist who relocated from Toronto to Winnipeg. Her work mainly consists of black-and-grey butterflies, bouquets, birds and fairies.
Rhi is a resident artist at Albert Street Tattoo in Winnipeg, banging out bold, traditional tattoos with a feminine and playful touch. She also offers freehand tattoos to perfectly fill those weirdly shaped gaps in your collection.
Havishya specializes in mandalas and intricate, ornate blackwork. Their pieces are often large, taking up entire limbs and backs. Their attention to detail on such complex designs has people travelling across Canada to book with them.
Fiddler creates gorgeous tattoos inspired by folklore and nature out of Pansy Poke Collective in Edmonton. Their versatile artistry spans from bold and colourful neo-traditional designs to intricate black-and-grey dotwork and linework pieces.
Red Deer, Alberta
Inking out of Lucky Cat Tattoo in Red Deer, Mann’s unique style ranges from creepy, intricate black-and-grey pieces to utterly adorable colourful flash designs.
Macapinlac co-runs Little Guy Tattoo Club, a cozy tattoo studio and artist collective in Calgary, where they create beautifully dainty hand-poked tattoos. They offer custom designs and pre-drawn flash specializing in florals, cottagecore and concepts inspired by animated media.
Racette works in both colour and blackwork to produce striking illustrative neo-traditional tattoos out of Lightning Bug Tattoos in Regina. Her designs draw inspiration from diverse sources, including the natural world, surrealism and even internet memes.
Nanaimo, British Columbia
Dori is a hand-poke artist creating whimsical, folksy and unapologetically queer tattoos out of their studio Wander & Whim in Nanaimo. Rather than using a tattoo machine, hand-poke artists manually insert a needle into the skin, dot by dot, to achieve dainty and intricate designs.
Victoria, British Columbia
Kramer is the owner of Tattoo Zoo, an eco-friendly tattoo studio in downtown Victoria. After tattooing for over 26 years, she has experience in many tattoo styles, but specializes in botanicals, animals, queer themes, coverups and tattoo restoration.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Drawing from queer pop culture and history, Lauder’s delicate portraiture is a standout as they’ve captured iconic queer figures ranging from Freddie Mercury to Trixie Mattel. Working largely in pink or black-and-grey, their distinctive style is easy to spot.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Greene-Bull is a master of illustrative tattoos, which often feature Black cartoon characters and faces. They also put their own spin on Old English tattoos by giving them spiky fonts with queer sentences. They are also known for doing free tattoos for Black people during Black History Month, an initiative they are continuing this February.
Inside the Queer Ink series …
Series editor Mel Woods introduces the history behind queer and trans people and tattooing, and dives into how tattooing has played a key role in their own life and identity. (Oct. 2, 2023)
Lindsay Lee Wallace explores the A Thousand Pansies Project, an initiative to use tattooing as queer collective care. (Oct. 4, 2023)
Xtra staff share the stories behind some of our own gayest tattoos. (Oct. 10, 2023)
Adam Rhodes dives deep into erotic tattoos and the queers who choose to get them. (Oct. 12, 2023)
BJ Ferguson explores the world of post-op top surgery tattoos. (Oct. 17, 2023)
Julia Peterson profiles some of the Two-Spirit tattooers using the artform to express and explore identity. (Oct. 19, 2023)