I had expected to leave Edmonton for a high-quality tattoo, but after researching the local artists, I don’t think I will need to do that.

by Chaylene Ribbonleg

I’m looking for another tattoo.

I had originally got my first tattoo in September 2019 and my second and third tattoos in June 2020. I had picked a highly-rated tattoo parlour, and I had glanced at the tattoo artists portfolio for a quick second before booking an appointment. It was a hasty and impulsive decision, I’ll admit that, but it worked out. I didn’t regret the process, nor do I dislike any of my current tattoos, but they were relatively small and inexpensive.

Now I want to explore and research my options in Edmonton before making a final decision. I’m looking for a more extensive and intricate tattoo on the outside of my forearm. I want a realist portrait style tattoo of a split picture between a red-tailed fox and half of a face. I wanted a black and grey tattoo for the final product. The style is beautiful and timeless. Black and Grey tattoos look amazing, and I like the resemblance to old black and white photos.

I’m aiming for a tattoo like this:

So I’ve researched many different tattoo parlours to find an good local artist. I’ve narrowed it down to three different shops: Hidden Gem Tattoo, Capital Tattoo, and Goodfellas Ink.

Hidden Gem Tattoo

15966 109 Ave, NW, Edmonton, AB T5K1B7

The tattoo shop website promises a welcoming atmosphere and experienced artists. They specialise in custom tattoos, add-ons and coverups. The shop also offers cosmetic tattoos, such as microblading, eyeliner enhancements, lip-brushing, and scalp micro-brushing. I was intrigued by the shop for its dedication to a feminine setting and the services for women.

I think I would prefer a female tattoo artist simply because I would get along with her in the process. My last tattoo artist was a girl, and we were comfortable with each other for the consultation and the appointment. It was a good experience that I would want to repeat.

example of Jerusa’s designs

The Hidden Gem Tattoo website features three main artists: Jerusa, Ari and Tony. I was initially interested in Jerusa’s portfolio because of her detailed style. Jerusa’s portfolio showcases a collection of stretch, blackwork, and aesthetic. The feminine and eye-pleasing designs feature delicate lines and soft shading. Jerusa’s designs are diverse in content as she works with nature, cartoons, animals, texts, and religious symbols.

I would consider Jerusa for a possible tattoo in the future, but I don’t think that she would fit the criteria for the image I have in mind for an artist. I want a tattoo artist that specialises in portrait, and I don’t see any similarities between what I want and what she offers.

I really like Jerusa’s use of animals but I don’t see anything in her portfolio that would suggest that she uses portrait style.

Capital Tattoo

7240 101 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6A0J1

Capital Tattoo website opens up as ‘Edmonton’s award-winning tattoo shop’. The shop’s main objective is to keep the process ‘personal and exciting’ as they create your tattoo vision. 

Jessica Wright operates the small shop, and she employs a whole team of artists with a versatile range of skills and concentrations.

I was interested in the “award-winning” tattoo parlour after reviewing Jessica Wright’s portfolio.

I was immediately drawn to the shop because I liked Wright’s style and her portfolio. The artist showcases stunning blackwork, realism, black & grey, and portrait style artwork. The most impressive feature in her artwork is her highly skilled realist portraits. I can tell she’s immensely talented.

I would seriously consider starting the process of designing my final piece with Wright because of her talent.

I can only imagine the drive and ability to run a successive business, so I would trust in the process and trust her for her dedication and hard work.

She has the experience, and her style is exactly what I imagine for a final product.

 She is not taking any consultations or future projects right now.

Goodfellas Ink

9709 118 Ave NW, Edmonton AB T5G0P4

Goodfellas Ink has a lively and fun introduction to their business. The website mentions love for their craft and that they love meeting new people. This location is one of two shops. Six artists specialise in a variety of different styles such as new school, chicano, black and grey, portrait and realism.

I was initially interested in Goodfellas Ink because I was familiar with the area, but I liked the website and the portfolios by the different artists. I especially liked Lenore’s portfolio and her use of animals and portraits.

I reached out to the shop for a consultation towards my vision, and we arranged an appointment to talk about what I wanted. We had an afternoon appointment when the shop was opening up, so it wasn’t busy, and we had a good conversation about the process. Kyriel Cholik explained how I would achieve a seamless tattoo process without any bumps in the road.

I handed four reference photos to Kyle, and he immediately asked, “Does this tattoo have sentimental value to you? I want to know that, as an artist, when creating your piece.”

I had offered him a picture of my deceased sister and her favourite animal, so I told him, yes, and he said, “Okay. The eye is a very intricate part of the face, so only you are going to know who it belongs too.”

I didn’t expect that, but I’m willing to accept it. I was worried about the pain level, but he assured me that “it would in the 5-7 range” out of a scale of 1-10. It’s at a good point for me.

The process would take a solid 4-6 hours, and Kyriel explained that most of Edmonton’s tattoo artists charge an hourly rate of $170, but Kyriel charges $200 dollars because he’s “really fast and he can finish it in 3 hours”, which sounded great to me.

I had worried about the validity of copying artwork but Kyriel explained that if a tattoo is trendy, it’s not stealing because an artist can work with it freely. If a tattoo is unique enough in style, then it would be considered a stolen idea. It’s comparable to commissioning a painter for his style of work.

I left with a good sense of direction and a potential tattoo artist. It was a good afternoon.

Final Thoughts

I learned so much about the process of getting a good tattoo.

I had hastily decided on my last tattoo artist, but now I feel equipped to make a good decision. I had expected to leave Edmonton for a high-quality tattoo, but after researching the local artists, I don’t think I would need to do that.

Kyriel calmed a good portion of my worries, he was very factual about the process, and he encouraged me to research a few different artists and talk to them before I made a final decision. I reviewed 20+ various artist portfolios in my search for a sound artist, and I can confidently say that I would choose any of these amazing and talented artists for a future tattoo.