By Rachneet Randhawa, November 12 2021—
The annual Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival 2021 is the biggest show of its kind in Canada. Over 200 of the best local artists come together to showcase their work alongside contests, retail exhibits and tattooing sessions all weekend long. This year we’ve done a countdown to our top artists and best tattoo shops in Calgary.
The Gauntlet sat down for an interview with a handful of ink masters, one of whom was Cassandra Malanda from Malos Tattoo, to learn more.
Malanda is a tattoo artist from Toronto and said she got her first tattoo in a rebellious time when she chose to define what made her happy. Her definition of a tattoo is not necessarily something that is symbolic but has a personalized meaning. She says that you can even get creative and slap a tattoo on a body part you want to enhance the perception of for yourself, so it also boosts your self-image.
The biggest challenge she’s faced thus far as an artist is perfectionism — especially in a career where everything must be perfect and you have to ensure that everything is right. The most enjoyable aspect is being in a like-minded community of tattoo fanatics. As for how COVID impacted the business in this industry, Malanda said that despite being difficult, it allowed them a break to focus their efforts on other activities like spending hours perfecting drawing and painting skills.
“It gave me a chance to go into other outlets and try and gain revenue that way. And in turn, it helps with tattooing.”
For those that are indecisive about committing to getting permanently inked, Malanda’s advice is to go for something more minimalistic, especially if it’s your first tattoo.
“Just pick something small and put it in a place that you can hide it,” she says. “Then you can proceed and start looking into bigger pieces now that you’ve got a taste of what it’s like.”
Malanda also encourages clients to explore different options when getting tattooed.
“Take your time and see where the artists are coming from,” she says. “A lot of them are coming from overseas, which is really fun to see the techniques. A lot of times different countries have different trends, or different techniques, and it creates a different look with their art. So it’s nice when you’re able to really experience that versus only looking at local artists, which is also really amazing.”
Because a lot of on-site tattoos at a convention like this one are premade, you have little to no customization options. Malanda suggests doing a consultation with an artist if you want custom work and a bigger design. Malanda encourages clients to closely observe the artist’s craft and go by square inch of any piece.
Also, cross reference larger images and pieces with smaller ones to get the bigger picture. As artists, they had to build a relationship with their client to get on the same page to develop a design that works well for them.
Her parting advice is to take full advantage of conventions like this in which you get to typically meet international guest artists and see the different artistic tattoo styles and designs from around the world.
Malos Tattoo & Aesthetics is accepting new clients and also offers niche services like microblading and microneedling. Be sure to check out their website and social medias @malostattoo for your first tattoo and beyond.