Getting inked on Bobcaygeon Road
By Chad Ingram
“It started when I got my first one,” says Tom Tucker. “They are a very addictive thing.”
Tucker is talking about tattoos, which travel from beneath his shirtsleeve, down a bicep, across his forearm and onto his hand.
Tucker was 28 when he got his first tattoo and eight years later, he’s turned his addiction into a career, recently opening Highlands Studio & Ink Works, a tattoo shop and art gallery located on Minden’s main drag.
The business is located in the building at the corner of Bobcaygeon Road and Newcastle Street, across from the CIBC.
From Toronto’s Rexdale neighbourhood, Tucker had an early interest in art, inherited at least partially from his parents.
Working as a mechanic from the time he was in high school, Tucker always kept up with his artwork as a hobby and had a longtime interest in tattoos.
“I was always intrigued by them, but the cost of getting into them was so expensive,” Tucker says. “It was extremely expensive back in the day.”
Tucker took up the challenge, hiding the name tattoo with a tribal design.
“Tribal is one of the main things I like to do,” Tucker says. He specializes mostly in blacks and greys, as well as words and phrases and cover-ups.
“I’m very good at finding ways to get any tattoo covered up.”
A friend of his owned a tattoo shop and, having seen some of Tucker’s work, asked him to start working at the shop as apprentice.
“He said, ‘I want you to start building your own [guns],’” he says. “‘As soon as you start building your own, you know you’re a tattoo artist.”
“I enjoyed the town of Minden,” he says, adding he was getting tired of the pace of the city.
“I’d always thought about moving to the country.”
Art sales are commission-based and local photographers are invited to contact Tucker.
“I did a little painting when I was kid,” he says, explaining he’d also draw on the walls of his bedroom.
About a month after he got his first tattoo, Tucker purchased a tattooing kit from a shop in the York Mills area.
“The first willing guinea pig was my older brother,” he says, explaining he’d practised on plantains, bananas and synthesized skin patches. “My older brother had a name on his back he wanted covered.”
After successfully tattooing his brother, Tucker began getting requests for tattoos from people he knew, a girlfriend buying him a professional kit.
Tucker would eventually start building his own and today uses his own custom equipment.
“Eventually I decided to start off my own little business,” he says, and soon dropped heading to the auto shop in favour of tattooing, with a part-time gig on the side.
This summer, Tucker came to the area to visit a friend.
Since the store space is bigger than what Tucker requires for his tattooing, a portion of it has been allocated for the display and sale of work by local artists, and currently has photography up on its walls.
The shop is open Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturdays from noon till 7 p.m. and is closed Sundays and Mondays.
He can be reached at 705-455-3674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The business is also on Facebook and Twitter.