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Seasoned tattoo artist reopens studio on East Garafraxa farm

July 5, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Visiting a tattoo parlour can be a stressful experience. People coming and going, loud noises, and a tight timeline to get the tattoo done can be an anxiety-inducing experience.

But there’s a new tattoo studio in Dufferin County, located on a farm, that’s taking a unique approach to the art form to ease clients’ worries.

The Artistic Integrity Tattoo Ranch, located in East Garafraxa, inks just one client or group of clients each day, taking as much time as they need. In addition, the tattoo ranch provides them with opportunities to see Highland cattle, horses, aquatic wildlife in a koi pond, and take a tour of the property. Often, people come for the tattoos and stay for the animals.

The business launched at the start of this year and has been inking customers ever since.

Cree tattoo artist and the business’s owner, Ian Greening, began executing his vision for the tattoo ranch in 2023 with his partner Dr. Jennifer MacNicol, who recently received her PhD in Animal Biosciences for research on equine gastric physiology.

The pair are animal enthusiasts and have fused a peaceful getaway with a tattoo studio to offer patrons a more holistic tattoo experience.

“It’s our new take on a tattoo shop,” said Greening, who has 35 years of experience as a tattoo artist. “This is more of a relaxed, laid-back experience.”

Greening ran a tattoo shop in Mississauga called Artistic Integrity, started with funding from Aboriginal Business Canada and the Metis Nation of Ontario.

“It was highly successful. We had all kinds of great accolades from the mayor and from Mississauga Arts Council,” Greening said. “There were people coming from all over the world to get tattoos.”

The shop ran from 2001 until COVID-19 lockdowns and a sudden rise in rent shut it down. During the pandemic, the shop was closed for 416 days altogether, and many of its artists left to work elsewhere due to the lack of work.

MacNicol and Greening said the Artistic Integrity Tattoo Ranch is a passion project they wish they had started much sooner.

The tattoo studio, located on their ranch, was purchased as a portable structure at a farm show, and Greening renovated it to meet his preferences.

With lots of natural light, nestled between some trees, close to the koi pond, the studio offers a picturesque location to receive a tattoo.

“A lot of people who come here, they just love it, and they keep coming back,” Greening said. “Some people like to just come back to see the animals… I don’t even have to tattoo them; they show up and talk to Jen and they’re riding horses.”

This makes getting work done at the Artistic Integrity Tattoo Ranch a memorable experience for many of the people who book an appointment.

“Not just the tattoo is special though, the processes is special,” said MacNicol. “It’s a way for people to do something nice for themselves, and it’s so nice that we can facilitate that in this beautiful space.”

“The memory of the of the ranch comes with the tattoo,” Greening smiled.

He added that the environment is quite relaxed inside the tattoo studio.

“Nobody’s knocking on the doors, and people aren’t coming and going,” Greening said. “When people come in, we can put their music on, we have a Bluetooth speaker, or if they want to watch a movie they can put on whatever.”

He added, “If you want to come with your friends and family, they can go wandering around and check out stuff. When Jen’s here, she can take you to go see the horses… and the moo cows. We got a couple of Highland cows and there’s a whole cow community… people just go crazy over the cows.”

Greening’s always had a passion for animals, growing up surrounded by them, and ended up working and living at a zoo a couple of decades ago.

“I grew up all over Canada, and at times we had wolves that we were feeding, skunks and porcupines, and things like that. We always had animals around,” he recalled.

When visiting his friend Adrian at Jungle Cat World in Orno, Ont., and showing him pictures of an animal tattoo he recently finished, a patron ran over shouting, “A tiger is having babies!”

“We both ran over to the enclosure and Adrian went right in. As two babies were coming out of a giant tiger, he passed one to me,” Greening recalled. “I named her Sierra and made daily visits to see and bond with her as he suggested.”

Greening also helped raise a baby wolf at the zoo for 12-15 years.

The zoo’s staff and Greening became great friends as he visited and made donations.

He began living at the zoo after the owner’s son, who was living in an apartment above its office, left it vacant in 2005.

Over the years, Greening supported charity programs through the zoo and would host events at his Mississauga tattoo shop to fundraise.

“We had every exotic animal you can imagine at the shop and were having people interact with them,” he said. “It raised money for endangered species and helped to educate people on our impact on their environment and things that we can do to help.”

Greening added, “It was all very positive. We just love animals, and of course, we love artwork.”

MacNicol has been passionate about horses since she was a child, participating in horse shows and competing. Once Greening and MacNicol moved to the tattoo farm, she brought two horses, and since then, they’ve purchased four more.

The Highland cattle were purchased as “living lawnmowers” to take care of the large amount of grass on the tattoo farm.

“They’re not here for eating,” Greening said, jokingly. “A lot of people ask that. They’re our friends. They are more like giant dogs to us. They come when we call them and they’re mostly happy to see us. We pet them and brush them. They like to lay around and ruminate.”

Looking to the future, Greening said he hopes to add more animals to the farm to provide therapeutic experiences to people with autism or other special needs.

“We have more land and more pastures than we have animals to put on them right now,” he said. “We would like to add a care farm aspect to the place, which is really popular right now.”

There’s also an unused area at the farm that Greening hopes to utilize as a campground or event space going forward.

Greening is very pleased with the new lifestyle that has accompanied the opening of the tattoo ranch, working on the land, and enjoying nature.

“The only thing that I that I would change is, I wish we would have done this sooner – I really do,” said Greening.

He told the Citizen he recently got access to the database of all his clients from the Mississauga tattoo shop and has been busy starting new pieces or finishing ones on former clients.

It’s important to note that the Artistic Integrity Tattoo Ranch is by appointment only and does not accept walk-ins. To book an appointment or learn more about the tattoo studio, call (647) 393-5115 or email

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