Visiting a tatted paradise

Kingston tattoo and arts festival celebrates body art  

A Journal staffer’s new tattoo illustrated at Little Sisters Tattoo Studio in Kingston. 
Photo: 

The needles were humming and the ink was flowing as tattoo artists and enthusiasts gathered for The Limestone City Tattoo and Arts Festival in downtown Kingston last weekend. 

Hosted at the Four Points Hotel, the festival brought together a variety of Canadian tattoo artists, visual artists, local vendors — selling anything from handmade jewellery, tattoo and skin care products to taxidermy animals — and fun activities, including  a kid’s tattoo station (don’t worry, they weren’t permanent). 

The atmosphere was friendly with enthusiastic volunteers and bustling patrons squeezing their way through the crowds to get a better look at the artists at work.  

The artists set up shop in the large ballroom of the hotel with fresh needles, ink and tattoo chairs. Patrons were invited to check out their work, and if they were lucky enough to grab a spot in the schedule,  get a tattoo.

The variety of talent on display with artists specializing in unique media, including photorealism, watercolour-inspired pieces, pointillism, line work and more, simply blew me away. 

In a room offset from the main space, there was a gallery where beautiful pieces of art were displayed, both tattoo-related and otherwise. Peering into the room, I noticed an artist working away on an immense, photo-realistic painting of Tragically Hip lead singer, Gord Downie, that took my breath away.  

While most of the artists were busy showing off their unique talents during the festival, I still managed to have a word with the artist, even if it meant having one of my tattoos coloured in while we chatted. 

Tattoo artist Simon Golygowski beckoned me over to his booth in hopes of filling in my minimalist tattoos with permanent marker. 

Having started when he was 18 years old, Golygowski has been tattooing for 23 years. His portfolio is a collection of breathtaking illustrations, featuring a variety of themes with emphasis on women and animals. 

Golygowski, who goes by the pen name ‘Dadahell’, works mostly in bigger pieces, such as sleeve tattoos and chest illustrations. 

My favourite piece in his portfolio was a woman with feathered wings surrounded by skulls and flowers. It was a chest piece that according to Golygowski took 11 to 12 hours, over a number of sessions. “Most people can’t handle that,” Golygowski said.

For Golygowski the best thing to tattoo is “good clients”. 

“Gets a good sleep the night before, eats a good breakfast, comes in, drinks a lot of juice, and brings some good whisky for me…that’s a good client,” he said in a thick Polish accent. 

The festival was a space to appreciate the art form, without the stigma usually attached to it. To me, tattoos are one type of artistry that is truly under-appreciated, especially in the artistic realm. 

The Limestone City Tattoo and Arts Festival offered a unique opportunity to see such a love of tattoos in one space. 

The ability to talk and share with other tattoo enthusiasts, to look in awe at the art displayed on people’s bodies, and have them look at my tattoos with the same wonder in their eyes, was priceless.

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