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New Tribe Tattoo

Posted by Staff / Posted on October 2, 2010

New Tribe TorontoNew Tribe Tattoo is hard to miss. Sitting across from MuchMusic on Queen West, New Tribe is a 4,000 sq. ft. body art kingdom. And with six full-time tattoo artists, four body piercers, three counter staff and a barber - yeah, seriously, a barber - New Tribe has been a fixture in Toronto's tattoo scene since 1994. And a year ago, they became the in-house artists at Tattoo Rock Parlour - the local drink, rock out and get inked joint just down the road on Queen. And business is booming.

New Tribe TorontoWhen I walk into New Tribe, I'm not shocked by the size. You can roughly guess its girth by standing on the street below. After you ascend the stairs, to your right is an enclosed room that houses five tattoo beds. A cute girl is getting a foot piece and a guy is getting work done on a half-sleeve.

New Tribe Tattoo TorontoAs I sit in the roomy reception area waiting for Eric Gaudet, the shop's manager, small wolf packs of teenage girls enter. They are all interested in mainly piercings - nose, ear and navel, typically. Talking with the counter girl, she explains that a good majority of the browsing, Katy Perry-lovin' kids do end up getting a piercing or a tattoo. According to the staff, New Tribe is probably the busiest piercing shop in town. It's all in the location that gets the foot traffic from curious passerby bored from shopping Queen West. What Gaudet calls the "mainstream clientele."

New Tribe PiercingAnd with a mixture of walk-ins and custom work, New Tribe does it all. Between the artists, they will do tribal, Celtic, big, small, colour, Haida, black and grey, portraits, Japanese and traditional. In a year, "Guys [tattoo artists] here will do thousands of tattoos," says Gaudet. "No exaggeration." And because of the prime location, New Tribe sets about 20% of booking time aside for walk-ins. And unlike other big shops in the city, if it fits and a consult isn't needed, they'll do walk-ins that day. But Gaudet ensures that his artists can run with the best of them. "Any of our artists could stack up with any other artists [in the city] with their custom work."

New Tribe PiercingsThe shop's walls are decked with your common tattoo shop flare. You have the typical stock tattoo drawings of smiley cherubs, mini-devils and fantastical characters. (Who actually gets these tattoos anyway?) There are a number of tattoo-inspired skateboard decks on the wall. Generic rock music is playing over the speakers. And then there's the shop's T-shirts and jewelry for sale. As I walk the well-lit environ, I check out the private piercing room (they also do genital and nipple piercings), barber shop, large sterilization centre, and, in the back, a good-sized staff room outfitted with a gi-freakin'-normous flat screen TV and Xbox 360 console.

The New TribeUnder the ownership of Dave Wildenboer, a tattoo artist himself, circa 1994 New Tribe started in a cramped spot on Queen St. before growing into the current digs after a year. And now with their artists at Tattoo Rock Parlour, which brings a "different type of crowd, different type of atmosphere, different hours," according to Gaudet, New Tribe is sitting pretty in a crowded downtown tattoo scene.

New Tribe TattoosWith an obvious explosion in tattoo shops dotting the city in the past couple years, New Tribe is a mainstay, says Gaudet. They have the reputation of quality, safe work. They have an inviting and knowledgeable counter staff. And they damn well have the location.

New Tribe QueenNew Tribe TattooNew Tribe is open from 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Saturday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Tattoo Rock Parlour is open from 2 p.m. - 2 a.m. on most nights, when the bar is open.

Writing by Ryan Bolton. Photos by Dennis Marciniak.



hellebelle / October 5, 2010 at 04:36 pm
ryan should've gotten a tattoo or piercing at new tribe, and then written up a review.
Ryan Bolton / October 6, 2010 at 12:56 am
I agree.

Who wants to tattoo me next? Pro bono, of course. I am a writer.
Michael / October 6, 2010 at 05:46 pm
I got my first tattoo at this shop.

I can say that it is clean, comfortable, but I think rather unprofessional. Anyone going to this location could be confident in getting a hygenic tattoo or piercing.

I will also say that at the time that I was there the staff were apathetic and condescending, maybe because I don't look like someone "cool" enough to get a tattoo.

The tattoo was done well enough, but not perfect. (I think I may actually have been the artist's first real client) For something that I will have to live with for the rest of my life, I was less than 100% satisfied. I advise that anyone considering getting their first tattoo look somewhere else.

Jason Levesque / October 7, 2010 at 11:15 am
I've got most of my work done here. I could not disagree more with the above statement. All the work I've had done here has been great. If Michael was worried about the artist maybe he should have asked to see some of his work first.

That fact that they are booked weeks if not months in advance to get any substantial work done should speak to the quality of work.

Daniel Mazzone / October 7, 2010 at 07:03 pm
Daves been Tattooing me since I was 17, and I can say over the last 14 years of knowing him and going to this shop you get more then you payed for. Professional, knowledged and cool people. You definitely won't go wrong going to Newtribe for a great new tatt, the artists are insane there.
Daniel Mazzone / October 7, 2010 at 07:23 pm
Daves been Tattooing me since I was 17, and I can say over the last 14 years of knowing him and going to this shop you get more then you payed for. Professional, knowledged and cool people. You definitely won't go wrong going to Newtribe for a great new tatt, the artists are insane there.
Antonio Bocardo / October 7, 2010 at 08:42 pm
Is the best tattoo shop in toronto, im from mexico and i cant wait to go next summer to visit toronto and get a new tattoo of course at New Tribe :D
Sandra tattoosweetie / October 7, 2010 at 10:53 pm
I've been going to NewTribe since '94...when it use to be across the street from it's present location. The shop has grown in clientel and size. Have tried to go to other tattoo shops but they just don't make the cut. Nobody knows my tattoo style like NewTribe. Whenever someone asks me where they should get tattooed, I always say "New Tribe". They are very professional, friendly and knowledgeable. Big ups to Dave and everyone at the NewTribe crew.
Dennis / October 8, 2010 at 03:12 am
Spent many hrs in this shop with Dave & i always leave super stoked with his work!
jennifer / October 8, 2010 at 11:20 am

I want to let everyone know when they want to get tattooed, they should go to New Tribe, this is a very clean studio, along with some really amazing artists, mine is Paul Samplonius, he has done a complete memorial sleeve for my daughter that passed away in 2008 at 33 weeks along in my pregnancy, I have received so many stares and compliments of complete awe to the amazing work that is on my right arm, yes it is expensive there, but you only get what you pay for, 14 years experience and cleanliness,

Way to go New tRibe

love you :)
Michael replying to a comment from Jason Levesque / October 9, 2010 at 01:45 pm
@Jason: I was getting a design of my own creation. I asked if I could see a sample of her work, the guy said: no, she'll just copy what you have don't worry about it.
Again this was part of the pretentious condescending attitude I got while I was there

I was young and naive and I didn't ask enough questions, I wasn't familiar enough with the process to know how poorly they were treating me. I know better now that they were just being dismissive and rude and I've been much better shops than this one. Especially if someone is getting their FIRST tattoo I couldn't be more forceful saying STAY AWAY FROM NEW TRIBE.

They don't care about you, they're the Starbucks of tattoo shops. Get the customer out with their "custom and cool" latte as fast as possible. The fact that they're booked months in advance tells you the same as the fact that Starbucks or McDonalds have a lineup out the door. Just because a lot of people go there doesn't mean you're getting the best, or even what's good for you.

Am I happy with my tattoo? Yes.
Do I regret it? No.

But would I go back/recommend it to a friend? No.
Dave / October 10, 2010 at 11:46 am
Michael, I'm sorry to hear your experience was not a wholly positive one.
If you had brought it to my attention initially I would had been more than accommodating in trying to rectify the situation and make it up to. We do try our best to be professional and friendly with everyone that walks through out doors. Our reception staff is recognized as some of the friendliest in the business and I believe our tattoo artists are second to none. As for comparing us to McDonalds and Starbucks, I take that as an insult as we are a large shop but we are independently artist-owned and run, and not a chain. Again, I apologize for your negative experience and hope that one day you will find it in yourself to give us another go.
All the best,
Dave W
Tattoo artist/owner
New Tribe
Christina replying to a comment from Michael / April 23, 2011 at 05:56 pm
I have to agree with Michael on this one....the tattoo I got was done well however I was made to feel like I wasn't "cool" enough to be there. A few people there were condecending and I didn't like their brush me off attitude.
I hope that something is said about this because the younger generation of people who are beginning their journey of tattoo'ing should be made to feel comfortable and not like wannabe tat kids. Tattoo's are for everyone and anyone who wants one.....even if it is a butterfly on thei ankle, and should not be made to feel like they shouldn't be there. Nobody is a tattoo god here.....thanks
Francois / May 16, 2011 at 10:34 am
I had a tattoo there a few years ago, and everyone was great - no attitude at all, even though it was my first and I was the oldest person in the place at the time!
E / May 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm
Dave has done my most intricate piece when every other artist I approached in Toronto and in the US (Vegas, Hawaii & San Fran) said they wouldn't do it due to the size of lettering. It took me 6 years to find someone who can do it. Thanks Dave! The stencil was a bitch but it turned out beautifully! :)
Lisa / June 9, 2011 at 09:12 pm
I love New Tribe! I am lucky that I live about a 5 minute walk away. The staff are phenomenal- so friendly and funny not to mention super talented! Mike you rock-hope you are around for a long time because I plan to get more-Yes I think it is true when they say tattoos are addictive. Thank you for my beautiful art work which I wear proudly.
Rob / July 4, 2011 at 01:38 pm
My buddy and I did a walk in and had a positive experience.

The place was neat and tidy and the helpful staff were happy to answer my

questions. After a short wait (10min) I was called in.

Everything went great and the tattoo was well done.

The tattoo feels and looks great. I would go back again.

Thanks Eric! Rob
Nabeela / July 20, 2011 at 12:55 pm
I got my first tattoo done at New Tribe this past weekend and I had an absolutely amazing experience! All the staff were especially nice and accommodating. Hats off to Kyle for his amazing work and for tolerating my jumpiness - thanks for the beautiful piece! I would definitely recommend new tribe to anyone looking to get a tattoo! Great work guys!
Missy / October 22, 2011 at 02:34 am
Just so you know, no one who knows anything about tattoos takes this place seriously.
K / March 28, 2012 at 06:10 pm
At what age can you get a tattoo here? I'm really looking forward to getting one.
wolf tattoos / April 8, 2012 at 05:41 pm
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Julie / April 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm
This place SUCKS
Kap / April 15, 2012 at 12:02 am
Does this place have an hourly rate? Just wondering since they do walk-ins
Felicia / June 29, 2012 at 01:39 pm
How old do you have to be to get a tattoo here ?
Don / July 12, 2012 at 11:38 pm
I would like to comment on my first experience at new tribe tattoo. I found the person at the front desk to be friendly enough but just gave standard answers to questions about artists. Like they're all very good and he could not suggest a certain tattooist for my artwork that I brought in because they're all very good. Yet he was pleasant enough but a little flippant. I was pleased to find out that there was an artist available a very attractive girl behind the counter that was able to see me today. She didn't consult me but she was given my artwork I informed her that I was very open to any suggestions she's had she acknowledged so and was friendly enough I asked her if she had any suggestions and she informed me she change the detail of it and I like that change I wish she could have given me any more suggestions towards the artwork considering I'm not an artist but as she put it it's to to each their own and she said she likes the Japanese-style artwork. I just wish that she could of may be added to my drying a little more maybe with their artistic flair but she can't read my mind. As I am commenting on this to Michael you must ask questions in life in whole. This tattoo means a great deal to me due to it is a phoenix rising from the ashes which means a lot to me considering I am terminal to give me a year to get a liver transplant. I found she was very good only fault I can find is I wish she could have given me more suggestions possibly. In all my experiences very good and I would definitely go back and I would get this lovely young lady to design my tattoo instead of getting it off the web. Thanks Ms. Jen with smiles,
Zoe / August 23, 2012 at 04:03 pm
I got A nose piercing today I am 14 and My mum signed the consent form I will say That This was A VERY clean Place Blair did My piercing I have to say He was AMAZING I didn't Even notice the Pain Because he was talking to me Distracting me He gave my a lot of info On how to Clean my piercing and Such I learned a lot And he answers all my questions . I like this Place Because they Stand their Ground a girl came in Wanting a tattoo Her mum was with her But she was only 17 And new Tribes Rule for tattoos is you MUST be 18 So they turned her down That made me feel good knowing that they stand by what they say :) over All If I want another piercing I know where to go .
Reid Jackson / October 9, 2012 at 04:28 pm
I got a tattoo that's looks like it was done by a 5 year old. I have to get it removed and all they said was " well I like it" and left the room. It will not cost $1300.00 and take 60 weeks
Brenda / February 1, 2013 at 09:12 pm
Hi there. I had my tattoo done at New Tribe 6 yrs ago for my 40th. It took me that many years to follow through.
Pros: I found the place SPOTLESS, esthetically, and procedurally. Artist was very good with me as it was done, kept ensuring I was tolerating it well, and if I needed to have a breather etc. Encouraged me that I was doing ok.
Cons: The counter staff was truly aloof, and a little dismissive, and seemed to want to move onto the persons that were just window browsing, instead of spending the time to make what I wanted a good fit. I did feel quite rushed to make a decision, or be left behind attitude. I really took up a grande total of 15 or so minutes, and though I did clearly ask what they might recommend as an enhancement to what I thought I was looking for, was not provided with any creative thinking. They wanted to cookie cutter the situation and get it done I felt.
Would I return because of the cleanliness? Yes.
Do I think that I have watched too many Ink Masters/Kat Von shows and thought that there were more discussions with their perspective human canvas? Probably.
Recommendation? Display a little better pride of really getting to what your customer may need. It's a basic of sales. Questions, and digging. Doesn't need to take an hour for wannabes, and no go's...but it would leave a little stronger of an impression that you really like what you are doing, and why the customer is doing it. Just a suggestion, as the 40 yr old, I did get the brush off as being a mom, and maybe not cool enough to really be attended to. I was truly left on my own, which left me more anxious to move forward. I did it, and I am 95% happy with it, but my tat does need something more to it....and even others have thought that too over the years. That's what I was looking for when I was asking for some suggestions, and being pretty much ignored when I didn't quite know myself what to put with it. All in all, if I go in buying a car, the sales person usually will ask me some basic questions to get a feel for what I am looking for, and then make some suggestions. I felt and I saw others during my visit, that unless they were ready on the spot with design and commitment, were bypassed for the easy sale. Honestly my interaction with the counter people was all of 4 minutes before they lost interest, and I was directed to the wall where generic designs were displayed. Just an opinion, still honestly, a good result, and exceptionally safe and clean environment.
Loma / June 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm
I have gotten 2 tattoos from New Tribe, one at the location when they were beside the Tattoo Rock parlor. The staff there was awesome. I just recently got a tattoo - a week ago - at the original location and the service I got was complete opposite! The guy at the counter was rude and dismissive and girl who did my tattoo had no more that 2 words to say to me. They were all rude there and I will never go back. I have a total of 5 tattoo's and this is the worst treatment yet especially when I am forking out over a hundred dollars for a 15 min job!!! AWEFUL - don't go not worth it and the place is old and cruddy looking as well!!
Tory / July 26, 2013 at 12:20 pm
Went to New Tribe yesterday and had a traditional tattoo put on my upper thigh. The artist was this rad girl named Tara. Professional, funny and talented are the words that come to mind. She surpassed my expectations. I would definitley recommend this shop and artist to anyone looking for some bang up top notch work. Its results with out the drama. Thanks New Tribe.
Tanya / August 19, 2013 at 10:13 pm
I also agree that the front reception has attitude. Although, I have tattoos so I was not intimidated as first timers may be, but the girl at the front desk is absolutely unfriendly and acted super annoyed with me as if I were wasting her time. I have tattoos, but I am not covered in piercings with full sleeves and a death metal shirt, she treated me like a silly girl that wasn't cool enough to be there. Despite that dave feels his front staff are friendly, he should pay attention to the people who are saying otherwise... why would we share our negative experiences if it weren't true? We are honest paying customers that are being turned away because your punk princess at the front desk thinks were not hardcore enough to get tattooed there... tattoos are for everyone who wants one, you don't have to be a biker or rocker to get tattooed and just because a client walks in who doesn't have sleeves doesn't mean they should be taken any less seriously. And people like myself who are bringing this to Dave's attention, keep in mind all the people who quietly leave the shop, never return and don't give feedback... these comments shouldn't be disregarded just because your shop is busy, if the girl at the front desk is being rude/unfriendly then you should fix the problem, perhaps she is being judgmental to a certain crowd? perhaps she discriminates between who she feels fits in there and who doesn't and treats them accordingly when they walk in the door?
Sara / December 26, 2013 at 09:12 pm
I got my first tattoo done at New Tribe. Im just going to restate everything, attitude. I was young and inexperienced so I thought that speaking to me in a condescending tone wasn't a big deal. My artist was Tara and she's super talented but a little unprofessional. Before taking me in, she was talking about taking prenatal pills...right? The guy at the front was kind of a jerk, " Well its a loon, how original can you get?" was his response when I made sure that it would be different than the template I showed him. Again, condescending. Im looking into another one and I looked at Adrenaline and alot of the same garbage was said. Maybe its just tattoo artists in general, I dont know. Over all, I dont think I would go back just because I wasnt really treated like a client, just as a naive, young money machine. Oh! and free touchups are only done after three months, Tara wrote the wrong date, I didnt get my touchup.
Kate / April 29, 2014 at 01:00 pm
Went to New Tribe to get a nose piercing. I had a great experience here. The girl at the front desk was very friendly and informative. I was pierced by Blair. He helped to calm my nerves as he was very friendly and talkative. The staff overall is great, I am not one who appears to frequent tattoo shops but they were still kind and made me feel comfortable. Definitely recommend this shop and piercer in particular.
Meghan / May 17, 2014 at 09:00 pm
I recently went into new tribe to book my next tattoo after a 5 year wait (I got my first tattoo at 19 in Bracebridge). After going to Adrenaline (Extremely unprofessional and unhelpful)where I spoke to a girl who did not want to give me the time of day, got flustered with me because my phone was slow to load a picture and said that until I had an exact design in mind she would not tell me approximately the price nor would she book an appointment for me because I wanted an appointment in July due to my crazy work schedule. I went to Newtribe and found that Dave and his team were the exact opposite of every complaint I have read. I told them generally what I was looking for, and the approximate size and Dave gave me two suggestions that would better enhance the tattoo, booked me an appointment for the time I desired and even introduced me to my tattoo artist who happens to be Tara. Dave even told me exactly how much I would be paying. I hope when I go back for my appointment that I get the exact same service as before. I am not your typical looking tattoo member, and yet I still got great service. I am extremely happy to be going to Newtribe and hope that everyone else gets the same service I did.
Lorena / August 21, 2014 at 02:57 pm
I went to New Tribe for the first time to get a big tattoo and the first person that I saw was the lady at the front desk, she was very unfriendly, with attitude, she made me feel like I was wasting her time and she told me that she will give me a quote about my tattoo, I told her that I will prefer to talk to the tattoo artist because I had some details in it and she insisted, I said no!!! she told me that I will have to wait around one hour to talk to the tattoo artist because was busy with other customer. I came back after and the tattoo artist check my design for a couple of seconds made my appointment and charge me $50 in advance, not mentioning the mistake in the appointment date that I notice!!! I felt rushed, I felt like I was money for the shop, I felt like they do not care about make the customer happy or to spending time to make sure the customer feels good and secure about the tattoo, I also notice when I walked in there where other tattoo artist at the front desk and none of them greet me. Just to let you know to all the tattoo artist in that place, if you see a customer that u think has no tattoos maybe it is under the shirt or the shorts, do not think that the customer is not cool or does not deserve to be there for a tattoo. the tattoo means lots of different things not only "LOOK I HAVE ONE, U CAN SEE IT AND I AM COOL" treat customer with respect, smile, ask questions, spend time with the customer and offer suggestions, the tattoo is for ever and the experience that this shop gives too.
nicole / December 13, 2014 at 11:24 am
i was walking along queen street with my sister about two months ago looking for a decent tattoo shop to get my tattoo done for my birthday. we walked past New tribe and seeing that it was in the ton ten shops in Toronto i figured it was a great place to get it done at. so we walked into the shop and was talking to the lady at the front desk about my tattoo and we were discussing placement and size, etc. in hopes of getting just some insight or a professional opinion on what people would think about placement, the front desk and one of the female artists were strictly closed minded on giving me any sort of opinion. of course my sister was there so she helped me a bit but i was just asking for some thoughts or opinions on what might look good. feeling unsure about placement because of the lack of help i decided to just make up my mind later on since there was still a month until then, so i went ahead to book the appointment for two Times New Roman Numeral tattoos and left.

on the day of my birthday i walk into the shop excited and anxious for my tattoo and wait for the artist to prepare for my appointment. i get introduced to Tara and i'm feeling content with everything. we apply the stencil for a times new roman numerals and i ask my friend of her thoughts. feeling kind of rushed to get on the table and start, we agree everything looks good and Tara proceeds to start my tattoo. Overall the appointment took 15 minutes maximum and i get up thinking that was really quick and even my friend had told me the same thing. then i look at my tattoo. at the moment i was just really stoked on the fact that i had just gotten my tattoos and they looked fine at the time so didn't pay much attention because i had established trust that Tara knew what she was doing. up in a hurry, we got our things and she wrapped up my arm. i then paid for it, left her a tip and we walked out of the shop.

Not being able to look at it again, i had to wait until later on to have a close view at all the detail. i noticed that 1) the font wasn't the one i had chosen or which was on the stencil. i had asked for Times New Roman and i had received Arial. and number 2)the lines at the end of the first tattoo weren't straight at all.

Seeing that it was still fresh, i figured i would wait until it was fully healed and then i could see the tattoo for what it would actually look like.

a month and a couple days after i received the tattoo(today), i still notice that the lines are crooked and now i've also been noticing something else. the ink ended up bleeding into my skin below the tattoo on one of them! the line doesn't have a clean edge because there is all black ink leaking under the numbers. i've had a tattoo before these two and i haven't nearly experienced any problems with that one. i am really unimpressed with about 80% of the two tattoos that i received that day. i'm honestly embarassed to show these to my parents especially because it is of their birthdates. and still embarrassed to show these to people i know because of all the issues i think of when i look at them.

Honestly i would not recommend this place to other people based on my experience. through the whole experience i felt rushed and like i was treated like a walk-in (in and out) client when i had actually took the time to make it a month prior. To this day i am unhappy and unless there's something that someone there can do to help me out with my situation, i will not be returning to New Tribe.

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