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Victory Industries Tattoo and Apparel

Posted by Ryan Bolton / Posted on July 10, 2012

victory industries tattoo torontoVictory Industries is the mom and pop version of a Toronto tattoo shop. Which is to say that the quote-unquote mom and pop in question are into a '50s aesthetic that includes antiques, rockabilly culture, motorcycles and, clearly, tattoos. Victory Industries is just a small storefront with antiques sitting in the window and two motorcycles typically parked out front, and it's nestled along Dundas West, a few streets down from Archive Tattoo.

victory industries tattoo"We wanted it to be distinctively us," says Cassidy Ritz, who opened the shop with her partner Kevin Harper, the shop's main tattooist, back in April. "It doesn't look like much, but it's everything." The shop, like Ritz and Harper, is humble. Partitions running along the cozy shop separate the tattoo "rooms," while a couch and magazines line the front area alongside the classic pinball machine and other antiques.

victory industries tattooThe back of the shop is comprised of a growing selection of clothing and accessories. The clothing is curated by Ritz, who is looking for other local, vintage-influenced designers to grow the collection.

victory industries torontoThe three tattoo artists are Harper, Ty Austin, and David, the shop's apprentice. Harper, 47, got his start by tattooing out of his apartment some 15 years ago. He owes his real start--which is to say tattooing outside of his apartment--to Toronto tattoo icon, Bill Baker, who is now at Pearl Harbour in Kensington. Baker was doing a two-year-long back piece on Harper's girlfriend at the time, when Harper got the courage to ask Baker for advice.

victory industries tattoo toronto"He was pretty free with his information," says Harper, after he admitted to working out of his apartment. "I totally owe him." Baker later helped Harper get his foot in the door at King of Fools, which is where he started his career. Harper also received a lot of advice and tattoo equipment from one of Toronto's pioneer tattoo artists, Beachcomber Bill. Beachcomber, little known today, was the artist in the '60s and '70s who ran Beachcombers Tattoo Studio on Queen West, which closed its doors in the mid-'80s.

victory industries tattoo"We don't want to be the best, necessarily," says Ritz, sinking into the vintage couch in the front of the shop. "We just want to give people good tattoos and a good experience." Thus, their come-as-your-are open-door policy and traditional-style tattoos. "I'm not here to set the road on fire," adds Harper. "I'm just here to make people happy with good tattoos."

victory industries toronto

Writing and photography by Ryan Bolton

Discussion

31 Comments

Brian / July 11, 2012 at 07:24 pm
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All of my tats are from Ty Austin, who apprenticed under Kevin until he came into his own. Ty gives amazing tats and his light hand is awesome in those gnarly spots. I would recomend this shop a million times over! Congrats to all the guys in the shop for making it the best tat experience in the t.dot for me and my friends!....Bri
Kathryn / July 11, 2012 at 07:50 pm
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Let me be the first to say congrats to every one at Victory!
To one else drop by for a great tattoo in a fun freindy enviroment.
sarah / July 11, 2012 at 08:29 pm
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Yikes, blogTO. Their linework looks rough at best. Maybe they should stick to selling clothes?

http://www.victoryindustries.ca/images/Tyler/012.jpg
http://www.victoryindustries.ca/images/Kevin/007.jpg

... I think I'd keep walking on down to Archive and wait for some work by David Glantz.
Remember: Judge your artist by the worst work in their portfolio; 'cause that could very well end up on you!
Evelyn Mackin / July 11, 2012 at 08:45 pm
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Good job Cassidy and Kevin. We wish you every success in your business venture. I love your handbags Cassidy.

We are so very proud of you. Much love always, Granny & Grandad
Mark / July 11, 2012 at 09:21 pm
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@Sarah I totally agree their work leaves alot to be desired. Looks like they all need an apprenticeship
emily / July 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm
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two of my three tattoos are done by kevin...i love them and the line work is great, i also get tons of compliments from tattooed and non tattooed people alike. the shop is also really cool and it's unpretentious, which is rare to find in this city! i can see they've worked hard to make it a cool and local shop i'm happy to support.
Bernard / July 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm
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Toronto totally needs another tattoo parlour. There just aren't enough.
alphaJOEmega / July 11, 2012 at 11:46 pm
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I'm an extremely satisfied longterm client of Kevs and have introduced a plethora of friends to his talent. They also have become repeat customers with non hesitational enthusiasm. Not one ayotta resembling a complaint has ever been whispered in our social circle regarding the final product. Im essentially a walking epidermal canvas of his work and I have lost track over the years how many times people stop me to admire the tattoos. From TTC to hospitals to City Hall to The Keg Mansion; all walks of Life appreciate the beauty involved in the art executed. I HIGHLY recommend Victory for great work, and as an added bonus, for a great social atmosphere to hang out.
Kathryn replying to a comment from sarah / July 12, 2012 at 12:52 am
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Wow Sarah, "If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all" I guesse is one of those lessons your mamma never taught you. As someone who has been getting tattooed since you were likley in diapers, (31 years to be exact) I've known and been tattooed by Kevin since he began his career. I've also witnessed how hard he's worked to get to where he is. Dave Glantz is a great tattooer no doubt about it. I get that you want to support your friend, however I don't see why you would find it necessary to piss on someonelses parade. Folks get tattooed by people they like in an environment they feel comfortable in. Oh and by the way the tattoo you choose of Kevins is on Australian tattooer Gen Stanfield, last I checked she was pretty damned happy with it.
Mattieu / July 12, 2012 at 11:03 am
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by the time i am finished what i've got planned, kevin will have tattooed %80 of my body and i couldn't be more happy with what has been done or more excited with what will be done. abilities (which are top drawer) aside, kevin is fair as the day is long and his attitude and shop are unlike any i've ever experienced. admit it, tattoo shops can be a cliquey, unwelcoming places, but kev runs a joint that is warm and fuzzy. the dude actually gives a fuck about what you're getting done and works with you to make it all it can be with quick turnaround times. i would recommend kev and ty to everyone and anyone under dis here sun... and she is shinning bright today!

happy inking to all, and to all a good heal.
BitMedler / July 12, 2012 at 01:30 pm
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I've no professional experience with any of the aforementioned tattooers and have also been getting tattooed - in this city and abroad - for 20+ years. Shop looks clean, folks sound nice and I wish them all the luck.

However, I'd like to clear a few things up in regards to the comments:

1. Quite saying "tat". Judging by the defensive comments here, I'm assuming this is a crowd that appreciates the artistry of the form. Don't debase it by giving it a "hip" name.

2. You cannot judge the quality of a tattoo based on how many people on the street stop and tell you they're great. In the end, the wearer is the only opinion that matters and the majority of people who tell you they like your "tats" actually only like that you HAVE them and rarely have enough attention to detail to be able to identify any of them let alone what they like about them. NOt to mention they're exposure is so limited they have no frame of reference.

3. Toronto has one of the most talented pool of tattooers in the world. It also has a staggering amount of un-pretentious shops with a "curated" aesthetic. This shop is in no way original on that front, however the inclusion of curated goods that reflect the shops aesthetic is a nice touch.

Again, good luck to the crew - they've had some of the best guidance you can get and I hope they make the most of it.

PS - +1 for the granny & granddad endorsement!
Bryan R / July 13, 2012 at 04:13 pm
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I have a bunch of tattoos that Kev has done over the years and I haven't had 1 complaint regarding his work. He just finished a back piece for me. He's a very talented artist. I highly recommend getting tattooed at Victory Industries. Great environment with great people.
Timmy P / July 13, 2012 at 06:59 pm
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Hi Kathryn and BitMelder. Nice of you both to swing by and lay down some arbitrary rules for everyone to follow. Oh wait a damn minute, we aren't your sous-baristas and your word isn't law out here beyond the confines of your tiny sphere of influence. So kindly, cram your rules backup in to whichever orifice birthed them.

Oh and this gem: "If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all" Here in the world of adults, you learn to accept and incorporate criticism into improving yourself. Bad linework is bad linework. Its jagged and appears blown out in spots. If you are so softly raised that critical input hurts you to hear, you'd better leave the more public forums like this one, you'll never find happiness.
Tyja-Rae / July 13, 2012 at 09:55 pm
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I've been getting tattooed by Tyler for over a year now and i love his work. The shop is a great place to be, amazing energy and they are very open to anyone and everyone. They are amazing ppl Everyone should check it out
Tim / July 18, 2012 at 09:05 pm
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mediocre to say the least. and that's being generous.
Beachcomber Bill (reall) / July 21, 2012 at 08:06 pm
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Hi Guys. Glad to see Kevin start his own shop and yes, I'm still alive and kicking ( but not for long because I've been diagnosed with lung cancaer that they can't do anything for ). I closed my shop May 31, 1995 ( even though Kev thinks "80) and moved to Fort Erie, Ontario, where I retired. I think Kevin ( I don't know his partner) is a great tattooist and will go a long way in this business.
lena / August 1, 2012 at 11:01 am
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If your looking for old school this is not the place!
Bamboo Tattoo / August 13, 2012 at 03:01 pm
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Please Check us out on facebook, I think we should be on this list too. We are Canada's 1st and only Bamboo Tattoo Studio
(Authentic Thai Tattooing)
liz replying to a comment from sarah / August 17, 2012 at 10:29 pm
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Amen!!! Their linework is atrocious at times and I've seen Harper's tattoos in person--they're terrible. Very flat, bad linework, and I've seen him do more than his share of crap work. Barely above a scratcher.
Kyle replying to a comment from Beachcomber Bill (reall) / October 7, 2012 at 01:26 pm
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I'm sorry to hear about your cancer Bill, are you doing any tattooing at all these days?
Beachcomber Bill / October 7, 2012 at 07:04 pm
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Hi Kyle, I'm sorry, but I have never met you and when I talked to Kevin he said he thought he knew you. I am assuming that you are the Kyle who is into or doing tattooing. The fact that in my time of tattooing I knew about 150 different tattoo artists whom I would visit whenever I got the chance to so I knew more of them than I do the young ones coming up in the craft. In answer to your question about if I am still doing tattoos the answer is no, regretably. Because my hands are not steady and my eyes are not good I think I owe it to my clients to not do any more tattooing, not that I don't really miss it. I have often told my friend Kevin that what I miss about the craft that I love is the people that I used to see and talk to. To me tattooing is not just something I did for money but it was a graft that I could not stop learning and learning about. It was my way of life and now that I am not or cannot carry on with my craft, living without it is boring and useless. Living is hard, dying is easy, having a craft that you can practice on a daily basis is the best thing in the world, bar none. If you are a tattooist and you love it as much as I do, carry on and be the best dam tattooist that you can. If you are just into it for broads and cash, give it up and het a job. You will be just as happy doing that. Lots of luck....Beachcomber Bill Oct.&th,2012
Beachcomber Bill replying to a comment from Timmy P / October 7, 2012 at 07:35 pm
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Timmy P, nice name. I have a son named Timmy (I know you aren't he) and I taught him that even if you don't like what is being said about you or your friends (if you have any ) you don't have to be rude about it as this only shows your ignorance not you good taste or upbringing.I think your parents would have told you that before this and as this is a blog maybe Lena will read it. I may be from the OLD SCHOOL but I think that if this is a public blog and not just a couple of people talking together than this is most certanly the place. If it is for people who tattoo and tattoo fans to get things off their chest then this is it.
Andrew replying to a comment from Beachcomber Bill (reall) / October 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm
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Hi Bill, I am but 1 of thousands who were lucky enough to lay on your tattoo table downstairs at 1281 Queen St. East! I recently found a couple of the buttons you put out, white background in black lettering, "tattooed people do it more coloufully", love it. Here's a quick recount of how my wife (of 22 years) & I landed at your place. We had not been dating for long, but I felt she was "the one". As we were driving along Queen St one fine day I saw your sign, and asked my honey "lets get each others intials tattooed above our butt?" Wow, she said yes, & I quickly found a parking spot. You were alone in your store when we came in, and at first we were scared, 2 suburban white kids getting inked, what the? Anyway, I remember mine cost more, probably because you were much happier to work on my ladies backside than me (even though I have a great ass). You lead us downstairs under a swinging light bulb, to 1 of your rooms, we though we were goners. Long story short, we proudly display our initials by Beachcomber Bill as we drop trou @ our home beach, Wreck in Vangroovy. Thank-you Bill!
Beachcomber Bill / October 26, 2012 at 11:54 am
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Hi Andrew, Thanks for the memories. You are probably right about your squeezes butt getting done for less but I figured that I charged the same male or female, but you could be right. Glad I'm still on the right side of the turf to be able to answer you and beleive it or not, I ran into someone else who live here where I am who came down to the shop just like you did and they still remember. Small world. Keep on keepen on and tell your honey I said hello. Bill
Sherri replying to a comment from Beachcomber Bill (reall) / November 20, 2012 at 11:46 pm
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Bill.
I have spent the last few days trying to hunt you down to see if you were still doing tattoos. Very sorry to hear about your cancer and that you are no longer working at what you loved. My father got his first tattoo from you around 1976, he still carried a gift certificate for $5 off in his wallet for all these years. He lost his battle with cancer on November 16th and when we were talking last week he was hoping my son could have the same tattoo done by you. Sadly, I see this won't be something we can do but I hope you can recommend someone good that may be able to do it.

Thoughts are with you

Sherri
Beachcomber Bill / November 21, 2012 at 01:37 pm
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Hi Sheeri, If you want my recommendation for a tattoo you should see Kevin Harper at Victory. I've seen his work and it is excelent. If you have an idea discuss it with him and I'm sure he can come up with a design that will more than please you. I have always been happy to send people to other artists that I knew could help them out and give them a great tattoo. I always thought it was the best service I could do for them and it made me look good also. Thanks for writting me and asking my opinion...your friend Beachcomber Bill
Barry Marsh replying to a comment from Beachcomber Bill / January 12, 2013 at 10:58 am
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Dear Bill,
You first tattoo'd me in '74 in your Toronto place, then again in '75 adding to my back stuff. Never did get it finished but hey thanks for the memories. Oh and I live in the UK and have never returned to Canada after '75.
Wish you well...........

Barry Marsh
Joe McGrady / January 15, 2013 at 02:01 pm
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How wonderful to see Beachcomer Bill mentioned here. I have nine tattoos and Bill did most of them. This was back in the 70's when I was a young guy growing up in Scarborough. Parkdale was a rough place,and Bill didn't take any sh**t. If memory serves me,Bills place was where the Satans Choice got their ink done. I also remember Bills wife having birds of some sort on her shoulders. It was rare to see a women with ink in those days. Anyway I have often wondered what happened to Beachcomer Bill,glad to hear he is alive and well!
Tony Smurridge / March 4, 2013 at 09:17 pm
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Hey Bill how are you ? It's an old friend tony I use to hang out in the shop I was friends with Timmy and Brian I use to come upstairs when you had the Basenjis . Was trying to find Timmy . Sorry to hear you have cancer and how is the wife ? You'll remember as the crazy blonde kid who use to come hang around the shop and paci joes place with Louie and Joey and Layton and big al...and the bunch of crazies who use to come visit with you guys well I was glad to see you we're still with us !!!!
Sean / December 10, 2013 at 06:33 am
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I got a tat at Beachcomber on Queen W in Parkdale in 1991 - it was still open, but I believe it closed shortly afterwards.
Gordon Treadwell / July 7, 2014 at 01:02 am
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To the family of tattoo bill. Hello Brenda and Brian. I hope you remember me. Im the guy you met on the CB and I worked for you for a while. I used to drive to the shop in a scooter. That should jog memories. Anyways I just found out obout Bills death and I was searching for a medium to get in touch with either of you. I will mourn Bill as he as well as all of you was very special to me. Find me on Facebook guys ok. I still love you all. Gordon

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