5 Calgary-based tattoo artists you need to check out on Instagram

Mar 30 2020, 9:46 am

This article was written for Daily Hive by Hogan Short


To say tattooing has grown in popularity over the past decade would be a massive understatement, as it seems more common to find someone with ten tattoos than it would be to find someone with none.

The stigma of tattoos belonging only to bikers and criminals is completely outdated, and much of that is largely due to the influence of social media. Tattoo artists and their work can now easily be seen on Instagram, and this has caused an explosion in the discovery of tattoo artist’s work.

Calgary offers some of the best tattoo work you can find (when not closed down by a pandemic), no matter what style you are looking for. We’ve decided to make that Instagram search a little easier by chatting with five incredibly talented artists you can check out at some of the best shops in Calgary — once the world gets back to normal, that is. 

The times of misspelled quotes and jacked up portraits are over. 

Scott Veldhoen

Eternal Image Tattoo

 

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Scott Veldhoen is a tattoo master of many different styles and approaches. “I like tattooing almost everything, from Japanese, traditional American, tribal, geometric…anything that makes a good, long lasting tattoo.” He books three months in advance, so calling Eternal Image and setting something up is no problem.

You can stop by for a consultation, and sometimes he even advertises walk-ins on certain days. Scott self describes his style as “illustratively versatile, classic, and modern,” making him a great artist to look into if you know exactly what you want, or need help with an idea.

Scott’s favourite tattoo on a film character: “All of Brad Pitt’s character in Snatch (Mickey O’Neil) — they fit the character perfectly.”

Alix Au

The Old Crow Tattoo Parlour

 

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Alex Au is relatively fresh to the tattoo game (five years), but she is already providing some of the best and most creative blackwork in Calgary.

“I like doing a lot of different styles, but mostly black ink. I’m down with gritty and lots of texture, but also keen on traditional.” Alix is also happy to include colour work in her tattoo, and she mentions that in her usual welcoming and funny way. “I have a massive collection of ink and the days I get to use them all are the best. I have black…red and yellow.”

One scroll through Alix’s work on Instagram proves that she is the go-to artist for anything black, but she definitely has her favourites. “I love tattooing smut, snakes, weapons and anything real weird. I will also put boobs on anything.”

Alex somehow makes her all black tattoos pop with a gritty, dynamic energy. Whether you are looking for solid black, shaded, textured, or maybe even trash polka style, Alix Au is the artist to consult with.

Alix’s favourite tattoo on a film character: “I’m a sucker for Ryan Gosling in A Place Beyond the Pines and his shit guy tattoos.”

Rick Wilson

Kensho Tattoo Company

 

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Rick Wilson just might be the best artist in YYC for a Japanese style tattoo, or Horimono. Horimono are the engraved images and carvings in the blade of a Japanese sword. The word also refers to the act of tattooing in Japan, but typically covering the entire body in the traditional style.

Of course, you don’t have to get a full body piece (you could, though), but Rick continues the Horimono tradition in his work and the way he speaks of it: “I tattoo in a Japanese style only. I try my best to keep it as traditional as possible; always studying and doing research into the rich, colourful history behind each piece. I put in a lot of effort to try and keep it true to the original aspects of Hormone.”

Horimono work is a specific calling, and a beautiful one. His Instagram page is clearly made up of works of the same style, but each piece is vibrant and unique. “I love how the image fits so well with the body. I love the boldness of them. Being able to tell what the tattoo is from across the room always makes me smile.”

Dan Cameron

Ambassador Tattoo

 

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Dan Cameron has been tattooing for over fifteen years and in that time has become incredible at the style he loves. “I’ve been trying to do more simple Western and Japanese traditional.”

Dan is a great artist for any project, but it is his clean lines and large piece works that separate him from the rest.

“Historically, I’d say I was known more for larger scale illustrative tattoos,” he said. 

His massive and beautiful tattoos, both in colour and in black and white, are common on his Instagram page. He has created some of the most inventive and gorgeous large scale work in the city, making him a great go to for back pieces, sleeves, and everything in between.

Dan’s favourite tattoo on a film character: “I do love Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter (1955). He has “love” and “hate” tattooed on his fingers – which was way before it was fashionable.”

Adrien Roque

Wild Rose Tattoo Company

 

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Different tattoo styles rise and fall in popularity, but Adrien Roque keeps things classic. He offers some colour, but mostly black, and the work all looks incredibly delicate and intricate while remaining truthful to each piece. This style is simple but detailed, an expression of art that would be familiar to those with rudimentary tools like amateurs, prisoners, or traditionalists.

“I like tattoos that look like tattoos. Rustic and timeless. I do use a smaller line weight, which I feel separates my work in Calgary. I mainly do single needlework, which I find not many tattooers do,” he told Daily Hive.

Not to be confused, he’s not doing stick and poke work, but a single fine electric needle to achieve the most precise details. Adrien is simply taking previously held tattooing philosophies and elevating it into something unique and beautiful.

“I like the romance of such a primitive and stripped down way of tattooing.” 

The best part of Adrien’s work is it can work for all ideas. Consulting with him is the first official step, but a good way to get an understanding of his unique take on the art form is to check out his Instagram.

“I’m always drawn to the classics, tattoos that will stand the test of time, where they don’t date themselves and get caught in the trends, such as traditional Japanese and American tattooing. Lately, I’ve been enjoying a lot of fine line Chicano style pieces, and with each style I love doing pinups and lay heads, or spiders. Both can be made delicate and beautiful, or gnarly and hard.”

Adrien’s favourite tattoo on a film character: “Hellfish from The Simpsons.”