Interview by: Lina Neaga
SKYN: So Jonny, how would you describe yourself?
Jonny: I am loud and boisterous but also love my quiet time. I lack a verbal filter; I’m always blunt and very honest, and some people love me for it and some people don’t - but it has made me who I am today. I am also the proud owner of #epicmagicalbeard if you search that hashtag you’ll find a lot of pictures of me and my beard, and my red hat. These are two things that I am known for and have not been without in the last 4 years. I pride myself on being one of the nicest people I know, I truly care about everyone I meet and make them feel that love. Speaking of love, my family is very close because truly there is nothing more important than family.
SKYN: Tell us about being the boss at the Village Ink? What kinds of things do you get up to on a day-to-day basis?
Jonny: As the owner of The Village Ink I wear many hats, literally and figuratively. I personally do not tattoo but that doesn’t keep me from filling my days with everything behind the scenes of creating my tattoo shop empire. I’m always brainstorming new ways to promote the shop be it in print, radio, social media, or by sponsoring local events, just like the Suicide Girls Blackheart Burlesque show on May 7th at 8pm at the Phoenix.
SKYN: Haha. Smooth. I see what you did there.
Jonny: Shameless plug… I know ;). As well as running marketing behind the scenes, I am also in charge of the day to day back-end struggles like finances, politics, social stuff, and most importantly creating a harmonious work environment that orbits around a “family-oriented” workplace.
SKYN: What made you open your own tattoo shop?
Jonny: I have been “collecting” tattoos for seventeen years now and have always had a passion for the industry; the art, the technique, and the advancements in quality over the years. It’s been an idea I have had on the back-burners and then one day I was in a pop-up in Yorkville at the old Remax offices and the space just spoke to me. I knew this was to be the location for my tattoo studio and less than a month later the lease was signed. I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset and really, I just needed something I was passionate about to fill my days.
SKYN: What’s the best part about being the boss at The Village Ink?
Jonny: Honestly, I love coming to work every single day. I stay after close some days and just walk around the dark empty shop and just smile. I often say to myself “This is mine, this is MY shop! I fucking did it!” I also have such an amazing team of artists. I take so much pride in seeing smiles on client’s faces when they leave the shop with an incredible tattoo or piercing they will cherish for possibly the rest of their lives. I can honestly say I couldn’t be happier.
SKYN: I can’t stop looking at all of your tatts. Your sleeves are works of art! Tell us about them.
Jonny: I have about forty tattoos, a few of them done at The Village Ink. I would say that my favourite tattoo is on my right thigh which has Kanye’s face with the word “Kanye” tattooed across his forehead mocking the crazy crackhead that tattooed “Drake” on her forehead. One day I was thinking ‘who the fuck loves themself enough to tattoo a name on their forehead’ and I realized Kanye would, he’s fucked up enough that he would.
SKYN: The Kanye tattoo is incredible! What’s your most recent one?
Jonny: My right arm is Japanese themed for the most part, speaking of Japanese our resident artist, Matty McLaughlin, who puts out some of the best Japanese and traditional tattoos I’ve seen, has been working on a Koi Dragon across my entire back. That would be my most recent tattoo; we are in well over twenty hours of work at this point.
SKYN: Being a successful entrepreneur in Toronto, what advice would you give to someone wanting to start his or her own business?
Jonny: This is going to sound so cheesy but you truthfully have to just follow your dreams and don’t let anybody get in your way. If you think you have the next billion-dollar idea and you’re scared because you don’t know how to fund it then email me I’d love to hear it, maybe we can be partners. But seriously if you have an idea, run with it and don’t fucking stop.
SKYN: That’s a very inspiring message. Who has inspired you the most in your life?
Jonny: Definitely my father, Hal. Since I was born I have watched my father and his sisters’ grow, SRT Med Staff, their medical staffing company, from the ground up, to being the best in their industry. My dad has inspired me to follow my dreams, always giving me incredible advice.
He is my best friend first, father second.
SKYN: You’ve been doing so well for yourself in the past couple of years. What’s next? What are some of the things we can expect to see from you in 2016?
Jonny: I have a lot of crazy ideas and goals I want to accomplish in 2016. First off I would like to see incredible success for The Village Ink and for my artists. I have some concepts that should revolutionize the tattoo industry as a whole and I believe that 2016 is the year that I will begin to implement said ideas.
SKYN: Knowing you, I’m sure you have great ideas in store for the shop.
Jonny: I would also like to take advantage of this year to better my personal health and mental wellness by doing more for the community with the aid of cycling for charity. For the fourth year in row now, I will be participating in The Ride to Conquer Cancer which goes from Toronto to Niagara Falls at over 220 km. You are all welcome to sponsor me. I will add a link at the end of my interview.
SKYN: Wow, that’s quite the distance. What keeps you motivated both working for the business and giving back to charity?
Jonny: It’s easy keeping motivated when you know you’re helping others. Everybody has been either directly or indirectly affected by cancer. Plus, I need to keep my body healthy and stay in the best shape of my life. Also, making people happy for a living keeps me motivated to do my job and be the boss at The Village Ink.
SKYN: What does success look like to you?
Jonny: It really just comes down to being happy with who I am and where I am in life. I honestly feel that if anybody wants to be successful in life, they have to believe in and love themselves. Would I say that I’m successful? Yeah I think I am, but I still haven’t achieved all the success and happiness I’ve ever wanted.
SKYN: Tell us something random about yourself.
Jonny: Looking at me you would never think that my favourite genre of music is country but to say that I’m obsessed with country music is such a fucking understatement. I would like to thank Joe Eppele, former CFL football player and close friend, for forcing me towards music that I can get lost in for hours and days at a time.
SKYN: Okay, personal question: are you single?
Jonny: Who’s asking? Just kidding! Sadly ladies, no I am not single. I have the most amazing girlfriend named Alexandra. She is just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.
SKYN: That’s so sweet. What feature do you love most about a woman?
Jonny: I would have to say eyes, they get me every time. I feel like you can really tell a lot about somebody from her eyes. Also, a nice ass will usually grab my attention 9 out of 10 times.
SKYN: Who doesn’t like a nice bum! What is the most important lesson you have learned about being in a relationship?
Jonny: I would say trust and patience. It’s so important to trust the person that you love and I’ve also learned to be very weary of girls that are looking for a sponsor. There is no doubt that I’ve dated too many gold diggers in my past. I am so happy that I have currently met a girl who gives no fucks about anything like that and I hope that no man ever gets taken advantage of in that way that I have in my past relationships, unless they’re a shitty person then they fucking deserve it. So ‘fuck you’ to all you “Fuck Boys”.
SKYN: Agreed! What would you like to be remembered as?
Jonny: As the smart, funny, happy and loving Jonny that all my friends and family know me as and to those who don’t agree with that remember I have no fucks left to give.
SKYN: Fair enough! Thanks so much for sitting down with us today, Jonny. We wish you the best in your career.
Lina Neaga | @linaneaga
Eames Alexander | @ThisIsEames
Ashley Hassard | @thehassard
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