Amber is one of our most badass shoots so far! Kind, beautiful and adventurous, both Fanny and I were over the moon especially when she said: "I can get in the water if you guys want!" when we were in that gorgeous secret spot in Etobicoke. Needless to say she made the day to all of the random walkers that day.
Oh well hello, who are you?
Hello! I’m Amber - I’m a tattoo artist with Chronic Ink in Toronto.
How did you end up pursuing a career as a tattoo artist?
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I started getting tattoos with Chronic Ink after discovering them online, and fell in love with the studio, the people, and their dedication to art. I originally went to school to do concept art for video games, but after deciding it wasn’t the right path for me, I decided to explore my other options - tattooing was next on the list of ideas, and I knew exactly where to go. Chronic Ink agreed to take me on as an apprentice, and with the help of their artists and other staff, taught me to tattoo!
How would you define your style?
I love drawing pretty things, and that absolutely extends to my tattooing. I do a lot of animals, florals, and other natural things. I’ve really gotten into the neo-traditional style lately, so I’m trying to take my tattoo work in that direction.
What are some of the most memorable anecdotes from your job you could share with us?
Every day I get to meet new people and learn about their lives - it’s amazing! I have clients from all different backgrounds and walks of life - I even got to tattoo an Olympic silver medalist once. I love hearing peoples’ stories behind their pieces, especially when it’s something deeply meaningful to them, that I can help turn into a piece of art that will stay with them forever.
One of the things I specialize in is scar coverups. I understand what it’s like to be self conscious of something on your body, and it’s so meaningful to me that I can help people feel more confident by using my art.
Can an artist refuse to do a specific request?
Absolutely. We can turn down anything we are morally opposed to, that won’t age well, or that we don’t believe we are the right artist for. Sometimes finding the right artist for your piece is a bit of a process, and especially at a shop the size of ours, you might end up talking to several before we find the right one for the job. We want to make sure your piece is the best it can be!
We all love to get better and push our limits. What would be your next challenge as a tattoo artist?
I want to start doing more pieces with multiple subjects. A few flowers or an object on their own are great, but it gets more challenging when you try to fit several different subjects together into one cohesive piece. As the work I do gets bigger, the more I’ll have to do this, and I welcome the challenge!
Let's talk tattoos
Oh boy! I just tried to count, and I THINK the current number is 24. I have a sleeve in progress that’s several different pieces done at different times blended together, so it’s hard to decide if I should count them as separate pieces or one big piece.
Most of my pieces were done by other artists at Chronic Ink. A lot of them were done by apprentices - I love being able to offer myself as a canvas to other artists who are learning. Some of them were done by artists who were apprenticing there long before I was - it’s amazing seeing how far their work has come since I first met them!
Let me try to list everyone:
Marilyn Nguyen, Livia Tsang, Neil Tavares, Evan Yu, Katie Willson, Karen Ng, CJ, Frank Carrilho, Monika Boo, ‘Big Mac’ Mackenzie, Laurel Winston, and two tattoos that I’ve gotten in the week or so after we did this shoot by Tegan Rush and Sebastian Camargo - the tattooing never stops when you work at a tattoo shop!
Could you give us details behind your most meaningful tattoos?
Honestly? Most of my tattoos don’t have a lot of meaning behind them. I have a quote from my favourite movie, my house from a wizard school LARP I went to, and a whole lot of stuff that I just enjoy visually. Everyone gets tattoos for different reasons - I put them on my body like one would put art on their wall. Just because it looks nice!
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who wants to get a tattoo done, what would it be?
Give your artist as much creative freedom as you’re comfortable with. I understand that it’s sometimes hard to relinquish control - especially when it’s a piece with a lot of meaning that’s going to be on your body forever. I guarantee that you’ll get a better piece in the end if you give your artist a bit of wiggle room, though.