Changing The Game
Explore how a young generation of artists are making waves in Brantford tattoo culture.
Maichina Veri, December 01, 2021 // Brantford, Ontario
Lauren Riley & Cadence Nixon at the Ink Room. Paul Smith, Photohouse Studio.
BTOWN sat down with some of Brantford’s female tattoo artists – Marlies Bevaart, Cadence Nixon, Lauren Riley, Amelia Dolezal and Jessica Victoria – to discuss their work, gender and the Telephone City. Here’s what we learned.
The level of modesty was unexpected, as well as the polite diplomacy. These busy women are excited to chat about tattoos, but are careful to respect others in their field and also not generalize or answer for each other.
"The demographic in the tattoo scene is changing."
Located at 208 Market St. is The Ink Room where you can find Cadence, 22, and Lauren, 20. The female-dominated studio (five of the six tattoo artists are women) is described as an inclusive place where people can be comfortable. “Getting tattooed can be a vulnerable experience,” says Cadence, “so I make my space an environment where people can feel as comfortable as possible.” Cadence notes she tattoos mostly young women and queer folk and also says she’s “very grateful” for women and non-binary folk who are progressing in the field of tattoos. “I think it gives the industry an opportunity to be more open and accepting to anyone and everyone who wants to tattoo or get tattooed. It brings more diversity to the table when it comes to different art and tattoo styles.”
Cadence Nixon at the Ink Room. Paul Smith, Photohouse Studio.
The demographic in the tattoo scene is changing. Amelia, 29, recognizes the field was “super” male-dominated, but more women, queer, trans and black-owned studios are emerging.
“It has been very inspiring seeing such a diversity of people tattooing now and helps inspire me to learn more every day,” says 25-year-old Jessica out of Jinkies Tattoos. Jessica shares a space with Back in Time Comics and Collectibles at 15-111 Sherwood Dr. She entered the field nine years ago as an apprentice and has seen a “drastic” change since she began and says there’s always something new in the industry.
Speaking from her space in Perfect Image at 136 Dalhousie St., Amelia emphasizes safety, comfort and consent and personally she checks in not only during the tattoo, but also after to see how things are healing. Her strong focus on comfort is also reflected in her opinion on the importance of tattoos. “I know a lot of people get tattoos to feel better about certain parts of their body. I do the same thing. You can show off parts you feel uncomfortable about but you actually gain more confidence through getting tattoos,” Amelia ruminates.
Lauren Riley at the Ink Room. Paul Smith, Photohouse Studio.
The newest artist in the interview, Lauren admits she is still learning about the scene, but has a lot to say about Toronto. “Some people think of the Toronto tattoo artists as micro-celebrities. It’s such a strange thing, because we’re all doing the same thing. They’re becoming almost household names. I don’t know if it has hit Brantford yet, but I would love it to.” The way to do this? “Keep doing your own personal style and keep growing your Instagram.”
Marlies, 30, of Bold & Bright Tattoos at 132 St. George St., has been tattooing for approximately five years. While she admits her floral and botanical work is different from others, she is still trying to develop her own style. Though other artists we talked with seem to be developing personally unique takes on tattoos, the open style of Marlies’s work may be beneficial. She says, compared to larger cities like Hamilton and Toronto that have more tattoo artists, artists in smaller cities like Brantford need to know how to do different styles of tattooing “within reason” to keep clients happy.
"Whether they’re carving out their niche or perfecting traditional style, these women are killing it in Brantford’s tattoo industry."
“I feel like a lot of people go into tattooing for the lifestyle and want to become famous, but they don’t really care about the art aspect of it,” says Amelia. “There are some artists in Toronto that use Instagram as an influencer, trying to get as many followers as possible and raising their prices. That’s not everyone, just a select few.” In terms of celebrity status Amelia states, “That’s not something I would ever want to be. I’m just a person.”
Whether they’re carving out their niche or perfecting traditional style, these women are killing it in Brantford’s tattoo industry. Despite it being the slow season for tattoos, all of these women are booking into the new year. See details below to find the artist right for you.
MARLIES BEVAART // @marlies.tattoos
Illustrative black & grey style specializing in flora, fauna & animals – booking into February – would like to recognize Ali @fuzzyferns & Amanda @collins_tattoos (Amanda is from Simcoe, but Marlies says she’s a “rocket.”)
CADENCE NIXON // @cadenceinkson
Soft black & grey work with a focus on portraits, pets & realistic spins on traditional imagery – booking into January – would like to recognize all the lovely ladies at The Ink Room
LAUREN RILEY // @lambshank.ink
Simple, non-traditional work with thick black lines paying attention to people and animals – booking into January – would like to recognize Jade @jadeyinks & Gabby @inkwithgabs
AMELIA DOLEZAL // @plantmole
Whimsical, cute & magical tattoos – booking into January – would like to recognize Haley @haleypaynetattoo
JESSICA VICTORIA // @jinkies.tattoos
Versatile with a mixed focus on neo-traditional style & realism – booking into April – would like to recognize Lucy @lucy_tattoos
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maichina Veri is a writer based in Brantford, Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Montreal’s Concordia University and has a background in Journalism – Print from Niagara College.