Each week our intrepid artist liaison, and generally jovial Eikon staffer Patrick Coste, sits down with a tattoo artist to get to know them a little better. This week, he's catching up with Toronto artist Anthony Jenkins.
From outstanding tattoos to stunning paintings, Anthony’s routine is among the craziest, but we can all relate to passion and devotion. He brings it to another level. - Patrick Coste
Name: Anthony Jenkins
Years tattooing: 20 years
Year actually good at it? 😅 Still working on it but my last one was better than the one before.
Place of business: @epitaphtattoo, Toronto, Canada
Patrick Coste: Good day Anthony! I’ve gotta say, I’ve been a fan for a few years now. Never had a chance to actually meet you...feels like a privilege to get acquainted with you as you’re great at colour realism, like crazy good at it! You’re quite the YouTuber too!! hah! How’s life these crazy days in the Big TO?
Anthony Jenkins: Hah, thank you for thinking of me for these interviews Patrick! I’m in Dundas, Ontario. We’re lucky I guess, not too many cases and we had the chance to shut down here at Epitaph a few days before the lockdown. I had clients actually postponing their appointments to stay safe, but it goes without saying, these are weird times for us and the shop.
For the shop and our family, the last three months were a time to reset and we just reopened a week from last. We’re set up like a private-studio-style shop now. The crew is minimal - my wife and I work at it! It was kind of forced on us when my artist moved to the West Coast. Pre-COVID we were always by appointment, but we accepted a few small bangers here and there to finish the day. We might see less of that now.
PC: Did you have to change the shop setup much, or it was great and now it’s a matter of adding to the routine?
AJ: Hmm, it’s pretty much the same apart from the masks. One person a day, perhaps two with full sterilization in between clients as usual. I’ve always been appointment-based. I do, well until today, I enjoyed small tattoos at the end of the day, but that’s now over. I feel the shop believes it’s the best it can be...it’s even better with a slower pace. I work with my lady, she does the business end and I tattoo. We actually enjoy this “slower” mood.
PC: I too enjoy working with my lady, it’s awesome eh?! Let’s talk tattoos...You’re a great realism artist, you paint like a maniac yet you do little bangers perfectly! You’re sponsored by the almighty Silverback tattoo ink and you also help the community in big ways. Tell me everything...
AJ: Street shops will do that to you haha! It really started at Way Cool Tattoo in Toronto, when you couldn't pick and choose, that I started being good at everything. At one point I almost quit tattooing. I found out I was having a child and I wanted a “real job” where I could get real pay in order to settle down. There wasn’t enough money in this, so I went there.
Funny story, Matt Ellis was leaving the shop, and a lot of people wanted that job. The owner asked me, “Why should I hire you?”. My answer was: “I’ve got motivation for my family, and I’ll make a ton of money for you”. I started right then and there. It was a great moment to look over shoulders and learn from tattooers that were further ahead.
With the volume of tattoos, it was impossible to do that much work and not develop a skill for it. At that time, people kept coming for Japanese-style tattooing, so I did that among other styles.
To me, Instagram made tattooing what it is today. You post what you want to create and people come and see you for what they love. It’s only fairly recently that people started to contact me for realism.
PC: I wonder why! Man look at those!!
PC: You seem like a very methodical man. What’s your routine like?
AJ: To me, the routine is the key. I always prep a week before. I also wake up at 4:30 and I have a real routine. Drawing all my stencils by hand is part of that. I also use Photoshop and the Procreate app and I get them printed. Time with kids is important too. I love it.
PC: Look, I'm getting to like you very much man, such a great philosophy on life.
AJ: Ha! Thanks, man.
PC: You're quite the YouTuber too - Look at me already a fan! There are tons of tattoo reviews, but you’ve got quite an impressive amount of reviews. How did it happen?
AJ: Thank you. I bought a pen style machine awhile back because I heard good things about it, but I was quite deceived and realized afterward that the artist doing the review was sponsored. Quite biased if you ask me… So I made my reviews about trying to understand and get feedback for the trade, and if you like my work my opinion might be worth it to you.
Basically, we work hard for the money, we have to make great decisions. I had a lot of stuff sent to me but I always refuse to review them. I will buy the product and discover it for myself.
PC: I’ve noticed a quite sensitive topic on your feed; Breast cancer survivors/breast reconstruction tattoos. This must be a very emotional thing, right?
AJ: Yes, it’s very meaningful for the client and it often is for us too. By the time they come and see us, it’s the start of a wonderful journey. The aesthetic often makes THE difference for those ladies. I’ve been involved with this sort of tattooing for a little while. I did some fundraising in order to get tattoos for those who need it.
It is special and I will do them as long as I can. Doctors now refer patients to me. It would be nice for the patients to get funding from the healthcare programs, as they’re not always covered. I have a special place for them in my heart, and I always have a small surprise for those special clients.
PC: Thank you so much for your time, Anthony. I hope to get to meet you in person this year!!