Chronic Ink

Show us Your Tats - Amber

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.


Find Amber

Check out the shop’s instagram at @chronicink! We have so many incredible artists that encompass all styles of tattooing, and they’re some of the nicest and most genuine people I’ve ever met.

Her instagram to see her beautiful work.

Show Us Your Tats - Liana

We bumped into Liana's instagram profile completely randomly and our hearts skipped a bit when we saw her beautiful elephant piece on her thigh. One "hi-hello-please-model-for-us" later, we were talking about going to Chinatown for something edgy, neons lights and rock'n'roll. Liana is a brave soul. She walked around half-naked in public places for a solid two-hours.


Tell us a little bit about yourself:

My name is Liana Lewis, I’m a Toronto based dancer, singer and actor. Originally from Calgary, Alberta . The arts have always been a big part of my life

Let's talk tattoos

I have 11 tattoos. My first tattoo is the one on my back. Two dance figures on a turntable they represent the urban and contemporary styles of dance, I identify with both.
My “Believe” tattoo and the one behind my ear which says LiLi with the Trident from the Barbados flag were done by Jay McKay at Adrenaline - he now has his own shop Unique Ink in Barrie, ON.
The “Believe” a simple reminder to never loss hope, that whatever I set out to do is possible. The one behind my ear is my family nickname it also represents my Bajan heritage. If all of my ink had to speak for me, they would tell the story of who I am, what I love or how I move in the world. It would reveal inner beauty, strength, love, empowerment, authenticity and the importance of music, dance and family. Those are the things that make me me.


The “Elephant” and “Love Conquers All” was do by Alanna Mule at Adrenaline, she now has her own shop Bellwoods Tattoo. I love what elephants represent: strength, loyalty, power, patience, good luck, pride, happiness, reliability, confidence and wisdom. There's many other symbolic meanings, I found those qualities I identify with the most. I had it shooting musical notes because music has been a big part of my life, even before I was born.

"Music is a second language to my heart." - Mara Arps

“Rose” tattoo - by Janice at Chronic Ink.

The lips with “be your own kind of beautiful” written in lipstick by Rags at Black Cloud Tattoos. It’s a dedication to my Love Letters Cabaret family, the lips is our logo we’re all about “poom poom power” empowerment. Being your own kind of beautiful is what poom poom power means to me.
The sternum and finger tattoos are by Prairie Koo at Ink and Water Tattoo. Both pieces are his own designs. I was looking for new ink inspiration when I came across Sara Golish (a Toronto based artist)  "Moon Dust" series, the "Black Gold" print it spoke to me. To me she represents strength, uniqueness, inner beauty and empowerment. She reminded me a lot of myself especially the persona I take on Petra "Queen of the Nile" with Love Letters Cabaret. This was done by Roumen Kirinov at Toronto Ink.

The tribal piece on my right thigh was created and done by Petra Hlavackova in Berlin at Toe Loop Tattoo. I just love her work, happen to be in Berlin at the same time, was very happy to be able to get some ink done by her. Such a beautiful spirit. And her name is Petra which is also the name of my alter ego, it was very serendipitous.

What was the time and budget allocated for each piece?

The smaller pieces were around $100-150, The rest was from $200-500


Is there something you wish you had known before getting tattooed?

Not really, I waited till I was really ready and knew exactly what I wanted. I did lots of research on artist and shops making sure I had the right person for each piece.

Any reactions from your immediate circle?

My friends love my ink and aren’t surprised with how I now use ink as another way to express myself. Both my parents said once I'm 18 it's your own body you can do whatever you please with it. They don't disapprove or are unhappy they just come from a time where tattoos were sorta taboo, they don't get it. I know my dad secretly loves the one behind my ear.

The Deets

Alanna Mule - Bellwoods Tattoo - 104 Ossington Ave | @alannamule @BellwoodsTattoo

Prairie Koo - Ink & Water Tattoo - 1303 Bloor St West | @release852_inkandwatertattoo @inkandwatertattoo

Rags - Black Cloud Tattoos - 276 Carlaw Ave Unit 209 | @blackcloudtattoos

Janice - Chronic Ink - 252 Eglinton Ave E | @chronicink

Roumen Kirinkkov - Toronto Ink - 580 ½ Danforth Rd | | @roumenkirinkov @torontoink

Petra Hlavackova | @petratattoo | | @toe_loop_tattoo_berlin


Find Liana:

Instagram | Facebook | Love Letters Cabaret

Will be performing in the Toronto Fringe Festival (July 5-16)