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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Chronic Ink's Journey to Reshaping the Tattoo Industry in Toronto and Beyond

Last updated Tuesday, April 2, 2024 09:32 ET

Chronic Ink's innovative approach and commitment to nurturing talent has reshaped the tattoo industry in Toronto, redefining perceptions and inspiring a new generation of artists and studios.

Toronto, Canada, 04/02/2024 / SubmitMyPR /

Tattoos have been associated with negative connotations, such as rebellion, subversion, and counterculture, given that many viewed them as symbols of defiance against societal norms. Interestingly, the perception surrounding tattoos has shifted in recent years. Once considered taboo, they're now a celebrated form of expression. This change reflects a cultural shift toward individuality and creativity.

Many factors contributed to this transformation, including changing societal attitudes and the rise of social media. In addition, tattoos have become widespread in popular culture. Celebrities and influencers proudly display their ink, and this mainstream visibility has helped to normalize tattoos and made them more socially acceptable.

It's not uncommon to see professionals, including doctors, lawyers, and CEOs, decked with tattoos today as they challenge traditional notions of professionalism and success. Because of this, ink has become a symbol of creativity, individuality, and self-expression.

Ricky Fung, the CEO of Chronic Ink, shares his perspective on how the tattoo industry has changed in response to changing societal perceptions. Chronic Ink is a highly acclaimed tattoo studio based in Toronto, Canada. It's known originally for its specialization in neo-traditional Asian art, and it housed perhaps one of the greatest collectives of Asian-styled tattoo artists in the world at one point. However, their largest contribution might be their open approach and the way they unlocked and democratized the apprenticeship landscape in Canada and beyond.

The Chronic Ink founder reflected on his experience entering the industry 15 years ago when the stigma surrounding tattooing as a vocational choice was still at its peak. He recognized that people's attitudes toward tattoos shifted after realizing that the days when the chances of parents allowing their children to pursue careers in tattooing were almost over. "Now that ink is more accepted, I've seen parents and their children visiting tattoo studios together," Fung shared.

This instance illustrates how significant the cultural shift in the perception of tattoos and the tattoo industry is. Tattooing as a nontraditional career is now a legitimate and respected profession. Even high school students seek opportunities for apprenticeships in tattoo shops, and guidance counselors are fielding inquiries about school placements in the industry.

The CEO extended his reach further and gave lectures at art colleges to engage with aspiring artists. Fung shared the potential for success within the tattoo industry, inspiring artists to pursue their passions and break free from conventional career paths.

Chronic Ink's contributions to this shift in the tattoo industry, especially in Toronto, are highly notable. The tattoo studio initially faced skepticism and scrutiny from established industry players. Fung stated, "Our industry is resistant to change and it’s totally understandable. In truth, there is likely an optimal artist per capita ratio that keeps the incumbent artists busy and thriving, however, that philosophy also prevents new people, new characters, and new ideas from joining the industry. It’s a double-edged sword because there is going to be displacement, but with that displacement, there is also progress. And ultimately the good outweighs the bad in my opinion. It is also inevitable.”

The founder's determination to challenge the status quo and disrupt conventional norms drove the studio to become the distinguished tattoo studio it is now. However, what truly makes it stand out is its belief in democratizing talent acquisition through apprenticeships. His belief in this is steadfast, “Knowledge should be earned, apprenticeships should be earned, there’s no argument to that. However, knowledge shouldn’t reside with just a small group of individuals and that’s true for all forms of knowledge. We don’t own the knowledge, we are lucky to possess it for a period in history and add to its base. The work is how to improve apprenticeships for as many studios as possible, as opposed to closing our minds to them.”

Apprenticeships are rare in the tattoo landscape because of exclusivity. Chronic Ink redefines the norms by offering opportunities for aspiring tattoo artists to learn and grow under the guidance of seasoned professionals. Fung recognized that talent isn't limited to a select few and that mentorship and collaboration would help the entire industry grow.

Fung then ensured that Chronic Ink was a space of creativity and innovation. It attracted top talents this way and went above and beyond to promote continuous learning and improvement. "Like any industry, top-tier artists or technicians are busy. It’s the 80/20 rule, where 20% of the industry possesses most of the work and expertise. Tattooing is no different. Thus, if you want to grow, you must have a robust way to groom talent. We took two top-tier artists and tasked them to mentor in what became one of the most successful apprenticeship programs in the history of this country," Fung recounted.

Chronic Ink became a household name thanks to its unique approach to talent development. Fung recounted how the traditionalists within the tattoo community resisted the studio's view on apprenticeships. "Our approach threatened the livelihoods of the existing artists and we took no joy in that. New artists entering the industry also displace us, it’s cyclical. However, change is always going to benefit some people more than others. It’s impossible to strike a perfect equilibrium for something this organic. We are just one piece of the puzzle, we can hardly control our own destinies, never mind the industry as a whole. We also felt that as the industry will naturally expand, it will also naturally contract. Nothing will grow unchecked forever without natural market inventions. If there are too many tattoo artists, nature will do its job and cull the field so to speak. And only the best and most resilient will survive, that is how all industries and life evolve and you have to be okay with that," he said. Chronic Ink eventually earned the respect of its peers, boosting its reputation in the tattoo community.

When asked about his thoughts on the future of the landscape, Fung predicts that there will be more and more multifaceted artists in the tattoo industry. After all, today's tattoo artists are skilled not only in tattooing but also in photography, cinematography, and social media. Following this development, the future of the entire sector shows immense potential. “The artists of the future will be the best this world has ever seen. Their artistry is unparalleled and their ability to promote themselves will create the most well-rounded artists in history. The future will be full of unicorns.”



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Name: Ricky Fung

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Original Source of the original story >> Chronic Ink's Journey to Reshaping the Tattoo Industry in Toronto and Beyond