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Okey Doke Tattoo Shop

Posted by Ryan Bolton / Posted on April 16, 2012

Okey Doke Tattoo ShopOkey Doke Tattoo Shop is a good jog from Cabbagetown. When I get to the shop, located at College and Ossington, and gracefully dismount from my bike, I have a good layer of sweat covering my body. Doesn't bother me, and doesn't seem to phase Kyle Hollingdrake nor Alex Snelgrove, aka. Big Al, when I enter the shop.

That's where the slightly puerile name, Okey Doke, comes from. They want to take the piss and pretension out of entering a tattoo shop. And good on them for that, albeit most of Toronto's top custom tattoo joints are becoming welcoming as all hell these days.

Okey Doke Tattoo ShopAs I mosey around the shop shooting the shit with Kyle and Big Al (a badass handle for a lady, I gotta mention, which comes from "her being a big deal," says Kyle since she does hand poke tattoos on the side, which is a big deal), everything is low-key. A guy is getting a chest piece in the back from shop owner and longtime Toronto tattoo artist, Eric Newstead. Framed art covers the majority of the walls with an eclectic array of Japanese folklore to flash to peculiar illustrations. And not to forget Rolo, an elderly and docile beagle that saunters over to see what the hell I'm up to. He's cool with me being a ball of sweat, too. God bless him.

Okey Doke Tattoo ShopBeing a nascent shop of three artists, having only opened last September, Eric says the time was just right. Having been an artist at New Tribe for 10 years, and entering into his 40s, he decided enough was enough if he was going to open his own shop. So he did. He saw a sign in the window at College and Ossington and said that's the spot. Okey Doke was born.

Okey Doke Tattoo ShopSitting down with all the artists in the front of the shop, we sip coffee and chat about kids getting their hands or necks tattooed as their first piece. "Sometimes I think their tattoos are pretty ill-considered," says Kyle. "I don't think most of them think that it will make things weird for them."

Okey Doke Tattoo ShopAlthough technically a street shop, Okey Doke has a custom slant. They'll do all styles and aren't picky. "I'll take the opportunity to tattoo whatever," says Kyle, illustrating the no-pretension vibe. "If someone walks in and I can do the tattoo that day, I will. We are all like that in here." The idea for opening the shop was to make it easy to get tattooed, not hard with three-month waitlists and high and mighty artists. "We are trying to go back to the way Tat-A-Rama was when we were kids. It was fun," Eric mentions, having got his start at the legendary Tat-A-Rama in '96.

Okey Doke Tattoo ShopThey went for the open, bright and friendly as possible vibe where it's cool to tell fart jokes, they say. Even the landlord says that all the old Portuguese ladies in the neighbourhood like the place. They like the bright window, just not the skull on the door.

Okey Doke Tattoo Shop"People will come in and say, 'I've never been inside a tattoo shop that made me feel comfortable and welcome and where I didn't need to feel too cool,'" says Big Al, getting the last word, due to her nickname.

Writing and photography by Ryan Bolton

Discussion

28 Comments

Rick / April 16, 2012 at 04:19 pm
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I hope to check this place out one day and maybe actually have a conversation with someone about a tattoo that I want, without any sort of awkward look of foolishness. At the end of the day, a tattoo should be all about the individual -- the tattoo artist should be there to simply make it come to life and make suggestions without any sort of ill judgement.
sXe / April 16, 2012 at 04:39 pm
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This place looks fun. Too bad I don't ever want to tat up my body.
Jesse / April 16, 2012 at 04:47 pm
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Why is the tattoo artist administering a breast examination for the guy on his phone? That photo is super awkward.
Need a Tat / April 16, 2012 at 07:41 pm
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I'm at College and Ossington, my transfer expired, I don't have bus fare so I can't get down to Queen and I NEED a tat. FML.

Wait- blogto's got my back! Thank God for this article. Thank you blogto, you're the best.
MrsPotato / April 16, 2012 at 07:41 pm
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cash only?

hm okay.
bromeo / April 16, 2012 at 07:50 pm
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gotta tweet your pains, bro.
David / April 16, 2012 at 09:35 pm
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I followed Eric and Kyle from New Tribe to the Okey Doke. Excellent shop, great artists and always a good time. Highly recommend it, they can handle anything. I always give them loose ideas to work with and they bang it outta the park.
Sean / April 16, 2012 at 09:36 pm
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I go here consistently to see Kyle. These guys are among the best in Toronto. Easily.
Joshie replying to a comment from Sean / April 17, 2012 at 12:19 am
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I'll decide who's easily the best in Toronto there Pal!!
Joshie replying to a comment from Sean / April 17, 2012 at 12:25 am
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For Tribal u want 2 go 2 Cool Runnings on the Danforth.
For Graffiti sytle u gotta go 2 El Segundo on St. Clair.
For Wizardry shyte u gotta hit Polar Express on Jane.
Joshie replying to a comment from Joshie / April 17, 2012 at 12:25 am
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NUFF SAID!!!
Joshie replying to a comment from Joshie / April 17, 2012 at 12:25 am
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NUFF SAID!!!
hellebelle / April 17, 2012 at 07:38 am
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i'm still waiting for a blogto tattoo shop reviewer to actually get a tattoo at one of these places and include that in the review.
cupiedoll replying to a comment from hellebelle / April 17, 2012 at 07:47 am
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@hellebelle I couldn't agree more!
Ryan replying to a comment from hellebelle / April 17, 2012 at 10:03 am
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I'd be happy to. I actually have two sleeves from some of the shops I've profiled. Are you willing to pay for the piece though? I'm thinking a dragon!
snuggle bunny / April 17, 2012 at 01:11 pm
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'feels like kittens' is their motto - i have two sleeves (mostly Japanese style) via Eric and can't wait to get more
Sharon / April 17, 2012 at 01:50 pm
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I got my tattoo there by Eric. He's awesome :)
Lisa / April 17, 2012 at 03:21 pm
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I like the cut of Big Al's jib.
hardy / April 17, 2012 at 04:25 pm
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I followed Eric from New Tribe as well, and I wouldn't get tattooed by anyone else in toronto. Okey Doke is not only an extremely comfortable environment to be in, but they are welcoming to all tattoos that people want to get. Several of my friends have gone there now and they are hooked by Okey Doke. Best place in the city, hands down.
me / October 12, 2012 at 11:30 am
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This place is great! Highly recommend it.
Best custom tattoo artist edmonton / January 8, 2013 at 04:19 am
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Nice shop to make Tattoo....Like it very much!!
Richard Ravenwolf Wright / March 5, 2013 at 10:24 am
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Love the shop......... Can't say enough regarding the talent...... Had a number of custom pieces done by Eric. Eric is extremely knowledgeable regarding the history of tattooing in Toronto and the different eras........ Best of all is he is true blue and will help you create what you are looking for regarding style, balance, colour etc. Loves tattooing dragons or just about anything. My first tattoo done by Eric was a Hare smoking a pipe on my neck............ Awesome...... Ask him if he likes Rabbits:) I then got a custom opium pipe with the smoke pouring out and turning into the face of a woman.......... Too cool..... & then I got......... Well that is another story! My favourite shop in the city........... I love Okey Doke....... Even got a tat of they're logo tattooed on my arm...... A must visit for your next tattoo......... Seriously.......... Check these folks out!!!!!
Jon / February 27, 2014 at 04:50 pm
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And the four pointed compass within the wonky looking circles is noticeably uneven.
John / May 13, 2014 at 10:38 pm
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Kyle is the best. He's now my go to guy. He's it. But hoenstly I've seen all the work of the artists and they are all very good.
Jon / August 25, 2014 at 02:39 pm
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*did a poor job on my tattoo
Aubrey replying to a comment from Jon / August 27, 2014 at 10:12 am
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Hi Jon, please don't name artists by name when leaving your experience at the shop or we have to remove the comments according to our comment policy.
Jon / August 27, 2014 at 03:59 pm
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Hi Aubrey,

So you can only name an artist when it's a positive comment? I've ready many negative reviews on your site that name artists or whatever they are in. Seems odd to me that you wouldn't allow a person to be named.
Jon / August 28, 2014 at 03:19 pm
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You should really take away commenting then. If commenting is censored against naming someone for their poor work then why bother?

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