Tattooing may be an ancient art, but it's never been more popular than right now.The iconography of the art form is in a constant state of flux -- Chinese characters are still on top -- but Toronto tattoo artists are noticing some trends. Cheryl Volling at Way Cool Tattoos (679 Queen West, 416-603-0145) says Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Old English scripts are all popular. José Candido (6, 8) got the full arm treatment, as well as a spectacular crest on his back that reflects an L.A. influence.
In Kensington Market, Reactive Ink (283 Augusta, 416-204-1657) has a diverse clientele who want everything from religious imagery to of-the-moment butterflies. Tiffany (5) brings her own designs to Alex, who translates her tribal-inspired arm patterns as well as some well-placed angel wings.
Artist Erin Best often draws on her skin to show tattooists what she wants. Her necklace (3) is a culmination of work by three collaborators, most recently Bill Baker, who works by appointment as a guest artist at King of Fools (556 Church, 416-323-8777). Her lower back design (7) was created in memory of her grandmother Ivy. Jet -- who works as a guest artist at Sal's Tattoo and Barber Shop (429 Spadina, 416-595-4161) -- adapted Best's personal piece to a more traditional ivy motif.
Marcus (4) goes to Sal's Scott McEwan. Marcus favours the bright, clean colours of retro styles, including comic book imagery, pin-ups and flames.
Luke's dermis (1) is a work-in-progress from the needles of Dave Coulson and Sharon Coulson of Coulson Tattoo (www.coulsontattoo.com).
James Scroga of Universal Tattoo (571 Yonge, 416-962-9991) lists stonework and lettering as favourites, with text of all kinds becoming increasinly popular. But cute cartoony images are gaining big-time, especially with women like Heather (9).
Chris Macdonald, also with Universal, reports, "Tribal-style dragons are booming." That feeling comes through in the work he's done on Matt (2).
Thor at Yonge Street Tattoos (604 Yonge, 416-929-2285) is noticing a growing Asian influence and doing black work regularly. Often made of solid, interconnecting tribal lines, this type of work is replacing the Celtic armband.
Abstract Tattoo's Jacqueline Pavan (452 Queen West, 416-504-8288) sees a taste for L.A.-inspired gansta script, as well as Asian-influenced images -- especially koi and anime. Stan Wong, also with Abstract, notices a retro trend emerging, with stylized versions of classic tattoos like 50s pin-ups, as well as the thick, flat outlines of earlier designs.think ink