Skip to main content

Rideau Spotlight: Steel n Ink 

November 7, 2023

Over the course of its history, Downtown Rideau has always been one of the city’s most vibrant and thriving hubs for artistry and creative expression. Venues like the Ottawa Art Gallery, National Arts Centre and SAW Gallery have been mainstays in Ottawa’s Original Downtown for decades. It’s equally as important, however, to make note of the many retailers in the area that cater to self-expression through fashion as well. From high-end streetwear outlets like NRML and OAK Shop to the many tattoo parlors along the Rideau strip, there’s no shortage of businesses ready to help you look your best! 

When it comes to tattoos and piercings, however, the process can be a little more daunting – especially if it’s your first time. How do you know whether you’re picking the right artist who knows exactly how to bring your idea to life? How can you be certain that the work will heal properly when finished? 

These are questions that Hart Doherty and his staff at Steel n Ink are all too familiar with, and they’re striving to provide their clientele with an upscale environment that is safe, relaxed and committed to the belief that “beauty is for every body.” 


Hart Doherty and the staff at Steel n Ink have created an environment that allows clients to feel at ease while getting tattoos and piercings, no matter their experience level.  

Like a Needle in a Haystack 

Aside from being one of the resident piercing artists, Hart is also the manager at Steel n Ink. It’s a role that he assumed after having acquired a wealth of experience working as a piercer for over 15 years. Having begun his apprenticeship at the age of eighteen, he has since worked his craft in parlours across the province including in Wasaga Beach, London, Collingwood and Barrie before finally settling in Ottawa. 

“I got offered a piercing apprenticeship, I had a knack for it and just kept doing it,” he recalls. 

Having spent so much time in tattoo and piercing parlours, Hart has come to learn all of the questions that newcomers have when planning a body modification session. Whether it be about the attitude of the artists, the quality and aesthetics of the products being sold or the general vibe that a parlour might have, he has a keen awareness of the concerns his clients tend to have and how Steel n Ink is able to address them. 

“There isn’t a pretentious attitude here, which is kind of all over the tattoo industry, unfortunately,” he says. “There’s this idea where a lot of [the artists] think they’re better than the clients, and we’re really trying to stay away from that. We want to help the clients and have this be a place where they can come and be educated on the things they don’t know.” 

Many of the piercings that Steel n Ink carry in store are designed with accessibility in mind as well. Hart notes that their inventory strives to appeal to as wide an audience as possible with a variety of jewellery styles to suit any aesthetic. Not only that, they proudly carry both high-end and more affordable brands of jewellery in order to be more accessible to clients in any financial situation. 

Customer service is an essential component of the Steel n Ink experience. Their artists are both capable and courteous, making the body modification process hassle-free and enjoyable.
(Image: Steel n Ink)  

Building a Team 

Steel n Ink boasts a roster of “award-winning and professionally trained” tattoo and piercing artists, which is the result of a rigorous and fastidious selection process. When you book an appointment with Steel n Ink, you can relax knowing that your artist is as courteous as they are experienced; they’re more than capable of ensuring your satisfaction with both the final product and the time spent getting it done. 

It all starts with the hiring process; when selecting an artist, Hart looks for individuals who are committed to making this their career rather than a mere hobby. “Don’t come in with a book of home-job tattoos that you’ve done,” he advises. “That shows a lack of respect for the industry. Make it clear this is something you take seriously and that you want to perform at a high level.” 

Beyond that, all of Steel n Ink’s artists have completed apprenticeships in their craft and are well-versed in all the associated techniques including line weight, design composition and light and dark balance. They also take into consideration an artist’s ability to build a friendly rapport with clients and help them feel at ease before, during and after their work is done. 

“[The artists] need to be someone that can talk with clients and make them feel comfortable in an environment where they don’t know the answers to a lot of these questions, or don’t know what to ask.” 

There are no hobbyists in Steel n Ink’s employ. All of their artists have completed apprenticeships and are fully committed to their craft; they deliver a high-quality final product every time.
(Image: Steel n Ink) 

The Right Tools for the Job 

Of course, an artist is only as great as the studio in which they work, and Steel n Ink has gone to great lengths to provide an environment that prioritizes both the safety and satisfaction of artists and customers alike.  

The upscale décor at Steel n Ink is both functional and fashionable. The parlour has a clean, minimalistic design with chairs and tables made entirely from non-porous, wipeable materials. This prevents the transmission of bloodborne pathogens, exceeding industry standards relating to safety. In addition, all artists have received extensive training in the prevention of pathogenic transmission. 

Following the completion of your tattoo, Steel n Ink also carries an extensive selection of aftercare products that promote quick and effective healing. These include soaps, lotions and sterile saline spray, all of which are non-petroleum based to avoid skin irritation. These are chosen in accordance with feedback from other tattoo artists about their experiences with aftercare products, allowing Steel n Ink to ensure their lineup of aftercare products are premium quality. 

Hart and his crew at Steel n Ink have already begin to fit in nicely since their grand opening at the Rideau Centre in August and they look forward to taking on new clients and making connections within the community. “It’s been a really nice reception,” he says. “The staff from the other stores have been really kind to us.” Book your next tattoo or piercing with them today and discover just how devoted they are to delivering safe, quality work in a comfortable and upscale environment! 

Steel n Ink recognize that aftercare is an important aspect of body modification, and their lineup of premium aftercare products are designed to promote fast and effective healing.
(Image: Steel n Ink) 

📍 CF Rideau Centre, 1st floor 

Monday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm 

Sunday: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm 

📞 (613) 260-7555 


Worried about where you are going to park? Click here for a handy tool to find all the parking options and rates in the downtown! 

Click here to check out other blogs we’ve written about businesses in Ottawa’s Original Downtown!