Pride and Permanence: Toronto-themed tattoos

There’s been a lot to be proud of this year in Toronto: we hosted a successful Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, three of our four major sports teams made it to the post-season, plus Drake and The Weeknd dominated the Billboard Charts. Some Torontonians were so proud they decided to show it permanently.
After waiting 22 years for a playoff spot, the Blue Jays and their fans were launched into hysteria when Jose Bautista’s three-run home-run clinched the American League Division Series. Baustista celebrated the hit with his now-viral bat flip. Blue Jays “superfan” Bryan Bevins decided to mark the occasion with a tattoo of Bautista’s bat-flip on his thigh.
Bevins wasn’t the only one to celebrate Toronto’s success with a with ink.
One Torontonian got a large tattoo of Scarborough-native Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye on his leg earlier this year. The R&B-singer enjoyed a hugely successful 2015 which included seven Grammy Nominations, two-almost-sold-out shows at the Air Canada Centre and holding the top two positions on Billboard’s Hot 100; the latter being the first time a Canadian accomplished the feat.

This year was also a good year for the “6 god”, Drake. The rapper (real name Aubrey Graham) started off the year with the release of his fourth mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.” The mixtape spawned countless memes as well as 17 tracks on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. The album only had 17 tracks. Drake also matched The Beatles record of having 100 of their songs chart on the Hot 100. And if that wasn’t enough for Drizzy, he almost broke the internet in late October when he released the video for his single “Hotline Bling.” The video has inspired everything: Halloween costumes, Christmas sweaters, parodies, jewellery and tattoos.

It happened twice. #drake #hotlinebling @animasian_

A photo posted by VINNY MORRIS (@eccentrictraditional) on Nov 15, 2015 at 7:32pm PST

As odd as these tattoos may seem, seeing people with body art has become more in Canada. According to Lightspeed Research 22 per cent of women and 26 per cent of men have at least one tattoo. Even our prime minister has one. Justin Trudeau has a tattoo planet Earth inside a Haida raven on his left shoulder, making him the only current world leader with a (known) tattoo.

Tattoo artists and their clients believe that tattoo culture isn’t a sign of delinquent behaviour but rather a legitimate art movement. The amount of people with inked skin suggests that some of the taboo surrounding tattoos is starting to fade away. In 2010, Pew Research Centre reported in 2010 that 38 per cent of millennials (then the 18-29 age bracket) acknowledged having at least one tattoo; 32% of Gen X’ers are tattooed and only 15% of Baby Boomers are inked.

Tattooing has become so popular some people are even getting their eyeballs tattoo’d.Seriously. For those who aren’t thrilled about the prospect of having demon eyes here’s an infrographic to let you know a little bit more about tattoo placement.


We sat down with local-tattoo artist Justin Murphy of Adrenaline Toronto to talk about the shift in tattoo culture:



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