Brandon has been a friend of No Fun for as long as I've known him. Not only is he one of the most hardworking, consistent, and humble artists I know working here in Toronto, but you guys also really, really like the patches that he designed for us! It took about a year (no exaggeration) to make this lil Q&A happen and I'd say it's about time we gave you a proper introduction. Read the interview below.
No Fun: We've known each other for quite a few years now, but before I met you I knew you from your work around the city, on the people here and on Toronto itself. What lead you to seeking out a creative career?
Brandon Ing: I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid, and growing up in the city there was always a lot to look at and a lot to turn me into who I am. I remember thinking that I wanted to be an "artist" when I grew up, but then realized that it was just unrealistic once I actually did grow up... Somehow I ended up here, and I couldn't be more happy about it.
How long have you been tattooing, and what first drew you to it?
I just hit the 4 year mark and I'm really excited about it! It really just happened naturally- I was getting tattooed and wanted to tattoo, like everyone else who draws. I worked hard, got an apprenticeship, and actually followed through. And that was that.
I feel like you’re involved in two close-knit "niche" scenes - graff and tattooing. Can you talk a little about your thoughts on community, locally in Toronto, and on a broader scale? Sometimes I find it frustrating to know nearly everyone else who's doing what I'm doing, but I imagine there are also a lot of pros to running with a crew? What are your feelings about all of that?
The people who you paint with or tattoo beside can really dictate how well you perform. If I am rolling with some people who paint better than me, or tattoo with more style and efficiency than I can it really lights the fire for me.
I love when my guys are doing well but I also love when I'm doing as well as they are. The internet can really light that fire as well, when I see all of my peers [elsewhere] killing it I feel like I have to do better and work harder.
What does your nightmare client look like (as a tattooer and as a freelancer)? What's the lamest tattoo someone can get in 2018?
I never for one second take the people who I tattoo for granted. I tattoo some of the most awesome and fun people in the city. They pick the best tattoos, sit well, pay average prices and generally don't bust my balls, so I don't want to complain about anyone. I maybe get 1 in 20 dumb-dumbs so I can't really say shit, I'm very lucky and appreciate everyone that I tattoo.
I think a “lame” tattoo is relative. When I tattoo someone I'm putting a tattoo on them, not on me, so I try really hard to do what they want. Even if I do think their tattoo is lame it would be more lame if I put something on them they don't want. I'm not here to tell people what they should be getting - however I will certainly recommend what I think is cool.
Something that I do really dislike however is when people ask me to tattoo things directly from the internet, and won’t let me change it at all.
I’ve tattooed people before and it’s always stressful, aren’t you ever afraid you’re going to mess up someone’s body?
It’s a little scary sometimes, for sure, but for the most part people are really nice and easy going, you can fix just about anything.
Both of the patches we've done together have been two-part ones. I'd never seen any patches done that way before we did the daggers a few years ago - What is it about that format, or patches in general, that you like?
I haven’t seen a patch like that before, I know there have been a few since but I think it’s a unique approach - it works well on clothes especially (putting it on either side of a zipper/shoulders of a jacket etc etc.)
You’ve made shirt & patch designs for other brands, as well as done some leatherwork, ring-making, and woodcuts of your own lately too. I think it’s cool to see how you’ve been able to apply your own style across the board - thoughts?
I really like to try a little bit of everything, being capable of more than one discipline is never a bad thing and aspects of one medium can always be applied to another. Jack of all trades master of some.
Do you have any plans to make any more items like that for sale? I imagine it can be frustrating to trying to share your work with fans all over when tattooing, by its nature, kind of traps you into being in one place all the time?
Yeah I’d be stoked to do more, as long as it doesn’t interfere too much with tattooing. I’m focusing more on that right now. But of course - I’d always be happy to collaborate with my buddies. Not everyone can make it to Toronto to get tattooed!
What do you feel like a tattoo artist's “job” is- Is it most important to make really great tattoos? Or to make your client happy? Both?
I feel like depending on what the client wants those two things are opposed sometimes. I think you just have to make people happy by giving them a good tattoo. If you're lucky it will be a cool tattoo that was fun to do as well.
I always tell people what I think is best a few times and try to explain to them why I think it’s best. If they don't agree then I give them what they want. I'm not the judge of what is cool and absolutely do not have the right to tell people what they should have on them.
Tattooing is weird because you’re a “service artist” of sorts - you’re providing a service, but in an artistic way. I have definitely done a lot of tattoos that I was really excited to do until the client asked me to change a million things - it becomes just a job. It’s totally ok, tattooing is a job after all, and I think I'm lucky enough to forget that sometimes.
When you're not doing an art thing, what are you up to lately? Your instagram stories keep me smiling all the time…
I'm really into oatmeal right now (it helps you with #2's). I ride my bicycle to the water a lot and throw rocks in there. I'm the life of the party. Big time.
You working on any special creative projects you can talk about lately? What's on deck for the new year?
You're lookin’ at it! Hopefully tattooing a buncha’ nice pals! I'm boring, I don't do squat, except for work and eat oatmeal and ride my bike.
You grew up in the city - What do you like about Toronto? What do you hate about it
I really like that I was born and raised in the city - none of this G.T.A. business, the real city, the middle of the city. No Brampton or Mississauga or Guelph or Kingston or Barrie or Markham. Toronto, the baddest city in Canada, I love it.
What I don't like about it is how standoffish Torontonians tend to be, approaching a Torontonian can be a scary thing to do, not because you’re afraid to get beat up or something but because you’re afraid to get judged. What’s up with that?
Any shout outs?
Shout out to proper grammar and punctuation - and thanks to everyone who has my back, I have yours too and I love ya.
Follow more of Brandon's work on instagram: @moveslow.
Or find him regularly at TCB Tattoo's brand new location, 903 Dundas St. W., Toronto.
For info about booking tattoo time please email him directly!
Grab the patches we've done with Brandon here.
We finally edited down this in-studio footage from when we made the Leather Key Fobs that are available now.