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New canvas: Calgary tattoo shops set for re-opening

Calgary tattoo shop owner, Brett Schwindt said the coronavirus lockdown was a bit of a blessing in disguise, while others found a different outlet for their ink art.

Tattoo shops were among those businesses that were shut down during coronavirus. The close contact between client and artist posed a health risk.

Phase two of re-opening includes tattoo and piercing shops and they’re set open June 19 and operate at limited capacity.

There are more than 20 tattoo shops in Calgary and people have been eager to get back in the chair and get inked.

Strange World Tattoo gets cleaned up

While closed, Schwindt’s Strange World Tattoo underwent a bit of inking of its own.

The walls got some new colour, countertops replaced, the floors resealed and curtains have been installed between stations.


“It was kind of a blessing in disguise, because otherwise, we’d never have time,” he said.

This has also given artists a chance to catch up on and work on some personal projects. Schwindt has done six paintings in the last couple months and has learned how to make bread.

They have received phone calls from clients asking when they were going to re-open again, some even asking if the artist would go to their house.

Brett Schwindt and George Boletta preparing to open Strange World Tattoo across from Dalhousie. CASSIE JAMIESON / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Now that parlours are allowed to re-open, Schwindt and his wife have been busy sanitizing surfaces, hanging paintings and getting ready for clients again.

Time off; different artistic pursuits

Many Calgary tattoo artists have been continuing their creative pursuits – just not on skin.

Karrie Arthurs, tattoo artist at Black Bird Electric, started a new series of artwork and has been selling prints.

Arthurs said that her life now isn’t much different as before “besides that I am at the shop less and not actively tattooing.”

She is still busy with her home life and her children, doing paperwork and training, she has been riding her bike more, too.

Karrie Arthurs sells prints online. SCREENSHOT OF KARRIE ARTHURS WEBSITE

Immaculate Concept artist Niki Nix has been doing much of the same as before but without working crazy hours and long days.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to step back and be able to rest a bit, focus on the things left unattended,” said Nix.

COVID-19 Regulations

With the re-opening, shops will look and feel a little different. All three shops encourage clients to make online bookings for both consultations and inquiries. The doors will be closed for walk-ins.

All artists and piercers will be wearing masks. Clients are required to wear a mask and are asked not to bring any guests.

Strange World Tattoo will be spacing out artists and leaving a free station in-between for extra protection.

“We have more than the two meters between each station already but that will help us limit the amount of people initially coming into the shop,” said Mona Schwindt, owner of Strange World.

All shops are equipped with the correct PPE gear and hand sanitizer for staff and clients.