Tony Torvis is the owner of Mortem Tattoo in Montréal, Canada. His work consists of traditional old school designs without colour, making his clients look like the brilliant black and white photographs of days long past.
Tony’s work is reminiscent of the great tattooers of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s but is still recognizable as a Tony Torvis piece.
Expect crisp clean lines and bold, powerful motifs such as dragons, snakes, lady heads, portraits, and flowers. There is original flash in the shop to choose from, or you can bring your own idea to him, or re-create an old piece of historical flash.
Tony’s Instagram page is full of both large and small scale work, from chest pieces to full backs, sleeves, and little filler pieces.
You’ll also notice from his Instagram page that the majority of clients are repeat customers. Tony’s tattoos are kind of like chips, you just can’t stop at one! Mortem tattoo is a must visit shop if you’re in the area, and there are other brilliant artists working there as well.
While existing for centuries, cacti have become extremely well known as a pop culture phenomenon more recently over the years, particularly among my fellow millennials. This definitely has something to do with how easy they are to take care of, requiring only sunlight, sand, and water on occasion; they pretty much thrive if left alone in a sunny spot.
They’ve become so popular now that you could light your cactus candle for the dinner table to see your cactus salt and pepper shakers and cactus glasses before you reveal your new cactus tattoo, all without ever having to mention the word cactus.
People seem to love the diversity and toughness of these prickly plants. They can come in all shapes and sizes; from tall and skinny to short and fat, perfectly round, multiple offshoots, each with their own unique personality.
This diversity makes them look great in photos, paintings, and tattoos, and their tough exterior could represent a kind of (symbolic) protection for the tattoo wearer.
As tattoos, the most popular cacti by far seems to be the tall skinny ones (San Pedro Cactus/cereus). These pieces are often done in old school, black work, neo-traditional, fine line, or new school styles.
The phrase “A wolf in sheep’s clothing” is a common one to English speakers, and its vivid imagery has led to some pretty amazing artwork, including tattoos. Regarding tattoo work, most people take it literally, having a wolf wearing a sheepskin, usually comprising of just the heads. Often these pieces are done in an American traditional or neo-traditional style, though black and grey and black work are not uncommon.
Many people believe(d) that the Bible is where this phrase was first recorded, but Aesop’s Fables also explicitly mention wolves in sheep’s clothing, and are much older than any of the Biblical texts.
For those who don’t know, Aesop was a salve and a storyteller, believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 564 BCE. He created a collection of fables collectively called “Aesopica” which were passed down orally until they were written down about three centuries after his death. Fables are short stories that aim to illustrate a certain set of morals and provide a teachable lesson to children in particular. Often the stories are about animals or mythical creatures to better catch a child’s attention, such as the case of “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
The meaning of the phrase refers to a person who hides malicious and ill intent behind a facade of friendliness and innocence. George Fyler Townsend’s 1867 translation of Aesop’s Fable is one of the better known versions: “Once upon a time a Wolf resolved to disguise his appearance in order to secure food more easily. Encased in the skin of a sheep, he pastured with the flock deceiving the shepherd by his costume. In the evening he was shut up by the shepherd in the fold; the gate was closed, and the entrance made thoroughly secure. But the shepherd, returning to the fold during the night to obtain meat for the next day, mistakenly caught up the Wolf instead of a sheep, and killed him instantly.”
There are also various Biblical texts that mention wolves in sheep’s clothing such as the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, found in the gospel of Matthew, in verse 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
Scorpions have been popular in tattooing for a long time, and have been tattooed in many different styles, including old school American traditional, black work, black and grey, realism, neo-traditional, and more.
Scorpions make for a popular design largely because of their tough look. The animal is deadly with a tough exterior, and can reflect this upon the tattoo wearer as well.
Because it is a creature that can take care of itself, it can also represent strength and protection.
Another obvious reason for people to get a scorpion tattoo, is if their zodiac sign happens to be ‘scorpio.’ Scorpios (October 23rd-November 21st) are described as being calculating and striking; able to know what they want and do what it takes to get it.
For lovers of alternative music it’s pretty much common knowledge that Black Sabbath’s 1970 debut album “Black Sabbath” marked the beginning of heavy metal as we now know it. There were distinct differences from rock including references to the occult in the lyrics, Ozzy’s style of singing, the heavier sound of the guitars, and loud, fast thundering drums. Put together it all sounds quite dark and sinister, which is part of why we still love it so much today.
The original members of the English metal band include guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and most famously, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne. Though the band has also seen many lineup changes, most notably vocalist Ronnie James Dio after Ozzy was kicked out of the band for substance abuse.
The band previously had other names, including “Earth.” The bands manager wanted them to change the name because it was too generic, so Butler suggested changing their name to Black Sabbath after the song they had written. He was big into both the occult and horror movies, as was Iommi, and they thought the name fit the sound of the band at the time. The name for both the song and band was thought up by Butler, and was inspired by Mario Bava’s 1963 Boris Karloff horror anthology.
After hearing the riff of what became “Iron Man,” Ozzy said that it sounded “like a big iron bloke walking about.” Geezer Butler took that a step further and wrote the lyrics as the story of a man who time travels into the future, and witnesses the apocalypse. While returning to the present, a magnetic field turns him into steel. He is rendered mute, unable to verbally warn people of his time in the future and of the Earth’s impending destruction. Because his attempts to communicate are ignored and mocked, it causes Iron Man to become angry, and drives his revenge on mankind, causing the destruction seen in his vision. Another fun song fact is the coughing heard at the beginning of “Sweet Leaf,” is guitarist Tony Iommi. He had been smoking a joint in the studio given to him by Ozzy Osbourne. The title of the song was taken from a packet of Irish cigarettes which said “It’s the sweet leaf,” and refers to cannabis, which the band was using frequently.
Some popular Black Sabbath tattoos include portraits of the band members (mostly Ozzy), album art, crosses, and “Henry” the bands devilish logo. Mostly done in black and grey, black work, or old school styles. Though realism, neo-traditional, and pointillism also make for awesome pieces!
What’s your favourite Black Sabbath song? Do you have any Sabbath tattoos?
Combining classic old school portraits of ladies and the wings of butterflies has long been a staple in old school tattooing. Flash from such legends as Bert Grimm, Ben Corday, and others from the 1800’s and 1900’s featured variations of the designs below, and more.
Portraits of women are one of the most popular images in tattooing, as are butterflies. Combining the two beautiful designs makes sense, and can form an elegant tattoo that stands the test of time.
One of the most popular ways for this design to be tattooed is a woman’s head with butterfly wings sprouting from behind, to the left and right.
These butterfly ladies can also be seen more like fairies, with the bodies of women and butterfly wings.
Old school American traditional is the most common style for this design, but black work, black and grey, and Neo-traditional are also popular.
Palm tattoos have been growing in popularity over the last few years, but people are still divided on the longevity of the pieces (as well as how much they have to hurt).
Palms are of course a high touch part of your body, and go through a lot of wear and tear. So putting a tattoo on it might seem pointless to some if it’s just going to fade immediately.
I have seen a fair number of healed palm pieces that haven’t required touch ups, even after years of wear.
A long lasting palm tattoo seems to require two things; Solid black lines, and proper aftercare. If you’re able to more or less not use that hand during the majority of the healing process, your tattoo shouldn’t scab much, and should settle in nicely. Obviously that’s not doable for everyone, but it definitely plays a part.
The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin in 1973 is one of the most well known horror movies to date. In part because of the supposed curse, and the fact that it was the first horror movie to be nominated for a best picture Oscar.
The Exorcist is based off of the book written by William Blatty, which is in turn based off of a real event involving the exorcism of a boy known through the pseudonym “Roland Doe.” Catholic priests performed an exorcism on the boy but had to stop when he broke free of his restraints, pulled a spring out of the bed, and cut one of the priests with it.
Many people believe the film to be cursed, including people who worked on the set. Many accidents happened, including a fire that destroyed what was supposed to be the MacNeil’s home before shooting started (Reagan’s room was untouched by the fire); Ellen Burstyn (Reagan’s mother) was injured in a scene when possessed Reagan throws her, and the scene was used in the film; the actors Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros both died while the film was in post production (both of their characters also die in the film); other actors also had family members die while the movie was being made; Linda Blair injured her back when the rigging broke during a possession scene, and she also received so many death threats from people who hated or were afraid of the movie that she needed hired body guards; the son of actress Mercedes McCambridge (the voice of Pazuzu) killed his wife and children before killing himself, and finally, many people believed the actual film itself was cursed and that playing it would invite demonic possession.
That classic scene where Father Merrin stands under the streetlamp was based on a series of René Magritte paintings, and was so well shot that it was made the movie poster (and is tattooed by many fans).
Other popular tattoos people get from the film include Reagan in her possessed form, Pazuzu, or a combination of any of these. Many people decide to get these tattoos in a realistic style, or old school or black work.
Roblake is an artist specializing in black work designs with mainly old school motifs. Working out of Dead Slow in Brighton, Roblake also sells merchandise such as prints and clothing here.
Roblake has a very distinctive style, taking inspiration from old school flash while adding his own flare that includes detailed line work and sometimes soft and delicate shading inside of tough looking pieces.
He is particularly well known for his knife designs, whether they be a sharp singular switchblade, a row of daggers, or a knife through a skull.
Along with tattooing, Roblake has an extensive tattoo collection, and also does some clothing modelling.
If you’re in Brighton or passing through, Roblake is a must see artist, or, if you can’t visit, check out his online store.