Before he decided to open Inkdigenous Tattoo Studio, Toby Sicks spent years studying the effects of colonialism on Indigenous culture, particularly through George Brown’s program on anti-oppressive practices and community work.
“I learned a lot about my culture and traditions, and about my people and the atrocities that happened from colonialism,” explained Sicks.
With the help of his wife Estriani, who encouraged Sicks to make the transition into a business owner, Sicks has built a safe space for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities to teach and learn about Indigenous culture and traditions through art.
“Artwork holds stories that are based on culture and tradition,” said Sicks.
Much of Inkdigenous’ tattoos are designed by Nyle Johnston, an artist at the studio. Clan names and sacred images are among the many types of tattoos available to Indigenous communities at Sicks’ shop. For everyone else, there is a designated book of images to choose from in order to avoid appropriating Indigenous culture.
“[There are] certain tattoo symbols, like the Warrior symbol, you wouldn’t be getting these tattoos if you’re not Indigenous. That would be appropriating somebody’s way of life.”
“For the mainstream Canadians who are not Indigenous […] we have another book. Or we have a visionary artist, Nyle Johnston, who could whip something up really right off the bat. He can draw something up woodlands-style, that has no contract with any other culture or nation, or has no ceremonial value.”
Sicks also emphasizes the healing aspect behind certain tattoos, which is something Inkdigenous offers to its customers.
“We also offer tattoos for healing purposes. [For] people who lost loved ones or people who have been through substance abuse, or people who have been traumatically impacted by anything negative in their life.”
Ultimately for Sicks and Inkdigenous, the goal is to provide a positive and encouraging space for its customers and the community.
“I want to change things into a more positive view and show it professionally so that people can have a sense of love; of respect; of kindness; of empathy.”
Inkdigenous is located at 124 Jarvis St.
Toronto's new Indigenous tattoo studio is challenging stereotypes through art
Posted by Indie88Toronto on Thursday, August 17, 2017