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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Danforth Ink

Artists and our little community seem to go hand in hand, so it was no surprise to Pioneer to find out that not only is Jesse Sherman of Red9ine Studios a great artist but he’s also a long-time Danforth resident. You probably wouldn’t know it when walking by his custom tattoo studio at 1974 Danforth (which he also lives above with his new family), but Sherman has a sterling reputation around Toronto as one of the best. This isn’t just a shop you pop into for a quick tattoo: to get inked by Jesse, and most of his co-artists, takes time and planning.  Pioneer had a chance to sit down and talk with Sherman and his wife Victoria about life, work and the Danforth.

Q. How did you end up here at the sweetspot of Danforth East?
A. We’ve been open since 2007, but I’ve lived in the area for 15 years. I used to have a space at the barbers across the street but I really wanted to create my own artistic space to work in. We liked this neighbourhood, so we invested and built this space literally from the ground up.

Q. Is your clientele mainly from the neighbourhood or elsewhere?
A. No, only about 5% of our clients are from around here. We are definitely a destination studio. People seek us out. Sometimes we get customers walking in and looking for something immediately, so I send them down to my friend at the other tattoo shop at Danforth and Bastedo.

Q. Do you think it hurts to have two tattoo shops on the same stretch?
A. No, we complement each other for sure. Everyone is looking for something different when they are thinking about getting a tattoo. Our process is about creativity and it's just a lot slower. There's more thought put into the end result.

Q. How did you get into tattooing?
A. I started out as a graffiti artist and I had always been really interested in tattooing as art. It wasn’t about getting tattoos, but about the artistry and process behind putting ink to skin. A tattoo is like a badge, a memory of a time in your life. It’s sort of sentimental. I like to step back now and look at the tattoos as a whole, not so much as the tattoo artist but to appreciate the art of the actual design.

Q. Victoria, when do you think tattoos became so mainstream?
A. I don’t think it was all because of Miami Ink/L.A. Ink. It’s such a generational thing. There are a lot of people our age who have tribal tattoos because they were popular in the 90’s, you know?

Q. Do you guys feel a change in the neighbourhood since you’ve been here?
A. Definitely! When we first moved into this location, there was nothing to eat around here. But now we’ve got so many more restaurants and bakeries. We’re partial to Celena’s, because they also have a young family, so we like to support our own!

Q. What’s the best thing about Danforth East?
Jesse: The subway – I love being on the subway line.
Victoria: For me it’s the sense of community. You see your children starting to go to school or daycare and you start getting more involved. You see families at the park or parents you know at ballet class and you feel like your part of a community.

If you want to check out more of Jesse and Victoria's beautiful art, you can find them here or visit the shop and flip through some of Jesse's books. You might even see Pioneer there, getting a permanent piece of Monarch Park Ave on her ankle... (but that'll be our secret!)

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