Unique Ink Custom Tattooing and Piercing is located at the heart of downtown at 13 Dunlop St. W. The popular tattoo shop has been in their Five Points location for just over a year and love being a part of the fabric of downtown Barrie. Andrew Batten is a co-owner and tattoo artist at Unique and says that the shop gets lots of regular business and loves how their clientele have taken to them over the last year.
“It’s a great spot especially in the summer,” said Batten. “People walking by and enjoying the city is a nice sight for us in here but also for them as the foot traffic sees a lot of folks come in just to see about getting some work done. People like checking out potential tattoos and the thought of getting one; with us right here it makes it easy for them to just drop by.”
Just dropping in doesn’t always mean you’ll get in right away though; the shop is quite busy most times and has many appointments on the books that need taking care of. With about four artists and an apprentice on site, Batten says that they always get people taken care of as thorough as needed.
“I wouldn’t say we’ll take care of you as quickly as possible because we don’t rush the work,” said Batten. “All of us are very serious about the art form and take the steps leading up to you heading out the door satisfied seriously. This isn’t just scratching someone’s skin; it is a passion and one that we love.”
Batten pointed out that there will always be detractors and naysayers with regards to the art of tattooing and piercing. Unique has seen their fair share of it in their six years in Barrie (they spent five years on Clapperton Street). But Batten believes that the town he was born and raised in is better than most places when it comes to acceptance and understanding.
“We did have to fight big time to get here and heard a lot of stuff about it,” said Batten. “It was more the older generation, and certainly not all of them. Other than that since our move we haven’t heard much at all; before it was just all politics so we had that aspect of everything, but to be honest now we don’t hear much of anything. People’s views are changing and with it their opinions. For the better part it’s a more socially educated society and Barrie especially for some reason is really finding itself in that manner. As far as those who don’t believe it’s an art they’d be wrong. Near everything is an art; landscaping, construction, painting, it’s all creating. We just happen to do it with skin where a steady eye and hand is needed on the most sensitive canvas known.”
If you’re not sure what kind of tattoo you’re looking for, there are plenty of examples at the shop or bring your own idea. While the Unique artists can do pretty much the same type of work, they all have specialties that can cater to an individual need.
“Everybody has their own type of style here,” said Batten. “We have one guy is awesome at the old Sailor Jerry which is a more traditional style with the big bold lines and full colour saturation. There is the neo-traditional style that a few of us can do really well; myself I’m very good at the realism as are a couple others here. We all have our own twist that we can put on a realism theme and there are many examples here for you to choose from to find the artist that suits you best.”
Tattooing isn’t the only passion that the folks at Unique have as they are great supporters of those who serve. First responders and military don’t pay taxes on their tattoo or piercing, and on June 25 Unique will be doing what they can for mental health awareness. On that day, there will be a fundraiser for the Canadian Mental Health Association. For a minimum of a $40 donation you will get a semi-colon tattoo which has become the symbol for suicide awareness and prevention. The tattoo will be a set size, black in colour and 100 per cent of the proceeds will be going to the CMHA. There will also be prizes to be won from the shop and sponsors, but Unique hopes more people and businesses will get in on the day by donating prizes and money to the cause.
“Everybody suffers from some sort of mental ailment,” said Batten. “We all have issues that we are dealing with that we likely tucked away for a long time. We just want to help in a way we know how and the semicolon tattoo has become such an awareness phenomenon that we figured we’d do that to help spread the word.”
For more information on Unique, check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as their website.