7 female tattoo artists that are known for their itty-bitty ink
Did we mention they’re all Canadian, too?
In the millennial age, itty-bitty tattoos are the newest (and most permanent) accessory to covet. Its skyrocketing popularity is a virtue of the art form's inconspicuous beauty: they're ideal for the uncommitted, the spontaneous and the aesthetically driven alike. Want one for yourself? Here, seven of the most influential tattoo artists hailing from Canada, each putting their own spins on tiny ink.
Long-standing tradition bolsters Toronto-based Ilona Fiddy's hand-poked work. Her skillful exploration of Filipino tattooing practices brings her unique touch to the art form while producing some of Toronto's most celebrated work. Her prized yields include a dramatic neck piece inspired by textile patterns from Mexico, a mama and baby whale swimming peacefully along the forearm and the bust of Nefertiti looking out knowingly as a dramatic arm piece.
The owner of Toronto's Chronic Ink, Joanna Roman has amassed an international fanbase for her barely there but entirely detailed designs. There's a thoughtfulness to even her most minimal pieces: a tea and saucer the size of an edamame bean tucked on the inside of a finger, a smattering of tiny constellations strewn across one's back. If you're looking for dainty and demure (i.e. satisfying those first tat inclinations), she's your girl.
There's a distinctly modern feel to Valerie Tan's striking portfolio of flash tats. Currently working out of Vision Seeker Studio, she's made a name for herself exploring a few artistic staples: serene faces achieved in a line drawn style, cutesy cartoons and groovy lettering (the word "euphoria" looks particularly trippy in a recent piece). Whichever way you go with her, you'll end up with something that stands the test of time.
Standard black ink isn't in Xin's repertoire; instead, in-the-know ink collectors head to her for a hit of Rainbow Brite-esque simplicity. Her whimsical, doodled designs have a child-like quality to them (think: rocket ships, dinosaurs and swingsets), tapping into our collective hunger for nostalgia. The cool part: at Ink & Water Tattoo where Xin works out of, a portion of the proceeds from every tat goes to charity.
Hailing from St. John's, hand-pushed tattoo artist Jessica Coffey draws on her Inuit heritage and home city to inform her crisp-lined designs. Codfish, icebergs and pitcher plants are all mainstays, but it's her playful custom work — a paper fortune teller and a pair of stoic cats come to mind — that makes her one of the east coast's most sought after artists.
Seedlings (and their sprouted forebears) are Lindsay April's thing. The Insta-beloved artist imbues her designs with a kind of innate feminine energy so coveted that appointments with her out of the private, Toronto-based studio Twin Oaks Tattoo are hard to come by. Her large-scale climbing vines are a definitely a commitment (we're talking freehand weeping willow from chest to knee), but the scattering of petite leaves are subtle enough for even the most ink shy.
Over on the west coast, Vancouver-based Monica Pham makes magic with her fresh approach to hand poke. Calling the technique a "raw and organic" art form, she translates everyday, often overlooked items — an eight ball, a radish, and her strong suit, teensy shelf tableaus — into something a little more special.
Jillian Vieira is a Toronto-based writer and stylist. Follow her at @jillianvieira.