Shane Takes the Lead in the Tattoo Race, Foxhound Hits Brooklyn & Thomas Hooper Works His Magic

Thomas Hooper Day of the Dead Skull Tattoo on Foxhound's Shane Duquette

I’ve wanted tattoos for 8 years now. First I had to turn 18, then I had to find the right tattoo artist. Finding the right tattoo artist is tough. There are so many out there and I’m pretty picky with my artists. I spent years hunting and after almost giving up several times I found one. Then I had to decide what to get—but that actually wasn’t too hard, once I had found the right artist. Then I had to wait 5 months to get the tattoo because the good artists, it seems, are in high demand. But I’ve finally finally got it!

It’s a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) inspired skull. The holiday seems a bit morbid at first glance but it’s about celebrating life, not death, and the artwork I just find so damn beautiful—and it runs in the family. My grandmother is a Cuban bundle of energy with one of the most interesting life stories I’ve ever heard. Her outlook on life is inspirational and she’s one of the people I most respect most in the world. And the latin influence and passion for life runs through my family. When my cousin Alexei married Dan Boeckner a few years back they had a Day of the Dead themed wedding. That’s where I first wore the skull. Yep. A few years ago, this was me.

Day of the Dead artwork normally looks quite a bit more bright and Mexican, but I wanted one done in Thomas Hooper’s style, so I gave him complete free reign. It’s a mix between an anatomical drawing, a rocker’s tattoo, and a traditional Day of the Dead skull—or at least that’s what I like to think. Skulls are rather stereotypical, I know, but that won’t make me love it any less.

So now that you know what it is, here’s the story. Five months ago I booked an appointment in Brooklyn with Thomas Hooper, an incredible artist and hands down my favorite tattoo artist. I wrote down a date—and the wrong date, for that matter— and then tried to push the excitement out of my mind so I could focus on graduating from my university program. A few days ago I was pretty excited about getting my tattoo, which I thought was next week, and I was starting to make plans for the journey down to New York. Silly me. I got a call telling me that my appointment was the day after at 1pm. “Uhh. Isn’t it next Thursday?” Nope. The consult was tomorrow and the tattoo the day after. So I told Jared the news, we cadillac-ed up to his place in St. Catharines, grabbed the family van (and his brother) and booked it down to Brooklyn. It was a 10 hour drive and by the time we left it was about 10pm, so we took a break or two and slept in the van. Arrived around 10am the next day and headed down to Brooklyn Adorned for the consult.

He came out from the back, and after the introductions (Thomas Hooper, it turns out, is British, and a lot nicer than he looks) he said: “You ready to get tattooed? I already made a sketch that I’m really happy with based on your emails. I think you’ll like it. If you do, we can skip the consult and tattoo you today! If you want any changes, I’ll make them, of course.”

Whoa, hold on now. I was just getting used to the idea that my tattoo was tomorrow and now all of a sudden it’s right this second?! Well. I’ve been waiting to get tattooed my entire life, so along with the butterflies came a big smile. The sketch was pretty wicked, albeit rather large. I told him it was rather large and he nodded and agreed: “This is just a sketch. I’ll go make a carbon copy and you can try it on. It’ll be smaller.”

Great, I thought. A few minutes later he came back with the carbon copy . . . which looked about the same size, and asked me what I thought about going big. Well. I was a little surprised it even managed to fit on my forearm. In my head I had been imagining something quite a bit smaller. I told him that. He had a few things to say. First, that the detailing would be way better if the tattoo were larger. Second, that if you could see the whole tattoo all at once—well that isn’t very dynamic, is it? Third, and this was my favorite: “Shane, this is prime real estate here. The forearm is one of the best spots. I mean we can do whatever you want, but I’d feel bad giving you a small little tattoo there. I’d recommend, if you want to go smaller, putting it somewhere else. The forearm deserves something hearty.”

All good points, I thought, and Thomas is the expert, so I said sure. We went back, I tried it on, liked it, and after some cleaning up out came the needles. I hate needles. Pain, generally, I can handle . . . but the thought of needles going in and out of my skin just wasn’t all that appealing. This, though, was a blast. I mean, how could I feel pain when I’m sitting there with a grin on my face looking down at Hooper do his thing? Well. The pain came later, after the outlines and dot shading (the best part) was done. The outlines and the dot shading actually felt kind of nice. Like a massage. It kind of hurts but it feels kind of satisfying at the same time. When the big multi-needle shading beast came out things were still going fine, even when blood started coming out of every pore and paper towel after paper towel were soaked through. Things were still fine. Things REALLY started getting painful during the last half-hour when he was going over and over the already bloody and swollen parts doing the final shading touches.

I had heard that you went numb after a couple of hours of tattooing. Not the case with me. My poor little arm, by that point, had already been beaten and bled to a pulp, and damn did those needles ever start hurting then.

The rest of the trip was pretty eventful, but that’s a story best told not here. New York’s a fun place. We explored Williamsburg Brooklyn and Manhattan too. Manhattan I’m familiar with, Brooklyn not so much. I still have a lot to learn. I’ll be headed back soon though. Five months from now I’ll be getting some more tattoos. This one looks great, I think, but it looks a little lonely.

Here are some more pictures. It’s pretty crusty and scabby, but you can see most of it, I hope. The beauty of Hooper’s tattoos are in the details and the linework, so once it heals it should be looking better than ever.

Thomas Hooper’s a photographer and a blogger himself, so he has his own set of photos. Mind, since I couldn’t go back when they were healed he had to take them right afterwards, so you can see some damage. He managed to get the red out of them, but it’s still looking rather dark from the bruising. They aren’t, however, crusty, like my photographs are. They look like this:

Now I’ve just got to do my best to hold off my excitement until my next appointment.

Oh, and:

Shane: 1
Jared: 0

Other tattoo posts:
Whale
Shark

30 Comments

  1. Breonna on September 12, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    looks amazing babe, way bigger than I thought you wanted it but still very NEAT! I hope it doesn’t get too itchy!

  2. W. Shane Duquette on September 12, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Oh Bre it’s gotten flakey, crumby and crusty, but not itchy. Thanks 🙂

  3. Jared Polowick on September 12, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Slow and steady wins the race…

  4. W. Shane Duquette on September 12, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    You’ve got slow down, but where’s the steady?

  5. Juneau on September 12, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    That’s some amazing art Shane, props! I remember the first time I got mine, as soon as I walked out of the studio I was planning my next one. Hopefully getting it in a couple of months. And fortunately, I’m one of those who got numbed up by endorphins after about the first 30 minutes, so I was flying high lol. an’t wait to see what your next tat’s gonna look like!

  6. W. Shane Duquette on September 12, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Juneau you have a tattoo? Wicked what/where? And thanks, you lucky bastard. The first two hours were smooth sailing for me. The last bit was torture. Do endorphins run out? What’s the next one going to be of?

  7. Jared Polowick on September 12, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I’m going to win the race by getting two nautical stars – one on each elbow.

  8. W. Shane Duquette on September 12, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Jared, we need to set up some ground rules. Is the race area based or quantity based?

  9. Robin K. on September 12, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    You drink my brand of gin, you would appear to play my favorite board game (Catan…), and you go to my tattoo artist (mine: http://meditationsinatrament.com/2010/06/29/back-in-black/). If I wasn’t gaymarrying the girl of my dreams next year I might have to give you a running start… 😉

    This is a great piece, and you should feel very secure in having gone big. It looks very, very good. Heal well, and good luck in further collecting!

    • W. Shane Duquette on September 12, 2010 at 10:59 pm

      The gin actually belongs to my good friend Willem. I did, however, drink most of it. And it is my favourite kind of gin. I’m more a tequila guy. Awesome tattoo. Very cool. I love leg tattoos on girls, and Thomas Hooper is just such a damn great artist. Have more?
      I do play Catan. I always feel a little strange enthusiastically explaining the premise of it to people. Who would have thought that farming resources and placing wooden roads could be so fun!
      Good luck with the marriage 🙂

  10. Juneau on September 12, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Yeah, mine’s not quite as epic as yours, it’s a maple leaf on my left ribcage, stylized to look natural with the veins of the leaf and such, got some different shades of red and orange in it. And endorphins can run out after a while, but seeing as they can be up to 4 times more potent then morphine, even a little can go a long way lol.
    Next tat is gonna be the Rod of Aesclepius, the traditional symbol of medicine, hoping to get it as soon as I get admitted to med school. Thinking either forearm or inner ankle.
    Do you have plans for your next one yet?

    • W. Shane Duquette on September 12, 2010 at 11:10 pm

      Rod of Aesclepius? That sounds awesome man. And I can see why you’d want to wait until you get in. I’d go forearm . . well. Of course I would. I did. Seems like it would fit though. Although I suppose Doctors are supposed to look a little cleaner than designers 😉
      Not sure what I’m getting next or where it will be . . . but I booked my next tattoo. March 8-9, with Hooper again—the soonest I could get. Twice as much time tattooing time booked as last time. I’ll figure it all out before then!

  11. Billy on September 12, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Shanebear, it’s precious! The style just totally suits you. Im even warming up to the zebra print pants. Maybe the tattoo just accents them really well? I saw some beautiful painted skulls from Mexico in Antigua recently and I thought of getting you one, but honestly it would have broken in the mail!

    We will have to go to Mexico when you visit to see the real thing. Day of the dead is on the 2nd of November coming up, you could have a celebration of your own up there! But, it’s an amazing festival and something you would definitely get a kick out of. And everyone knows how much you love mezcal. 😉

    I love it. You’re morphing so fast!

    • W. Shane Duquette on September 13, 2010 at 12:01 am

      Painted skulls from Mexico?! That sounds incredible! Not morphing fast enough! Next appointment isn’t until March! Glad you’re warming up to the zebra pants. I do quite enjoy them.

  12. Billy on September 13, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Also, Jared are you serious about the stars on the elbows thing or is it an inside joke of some kind?

  13. Mario on September 13, 2010 at 1:57 am

    WOW your tattoo has an amazing artwork i love how detailed it is! I like the story behind your tattoo since in my country el dia de los muertos is celebrated, many people go to the cemetery and go leave flowers on the graves of their loved ones. Anyways I agree your amazing tattoo looks lonely but don’t get overcrowded with tattoos, keep the whole thing minimalistic so you can appreciate them more. I would add a nice phrase or a quote in your tattooed arm it would distinguish it!

  14. Billy on September 13, 2010 at 2:31 am

    Guatemala?

  15. Nima H K on September 13, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Dudeee!! that looks absolutely awesome! congrats.. trip to Brooklyn totally worth it!

  16. Sunny on September 14, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    That’s such a bad ass tatoo. I want one at some point but can’t think of anything meaningful yet.

  17. Vivi on September 15, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    It’s as big as my own skull and I love it. Oh man I love it! I can’t believe it finally happened!

    Also, I can’t wait to see the hair in person!

    “Slow and steady wins the race” HAHAHAHAHAHA Yes Jared!

  18. Emanster Provolone on September 15, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Thomas is amazing, and that tattoo is great!! Glad to see you went big!! Soo funny too when you think about it, all the good artists seem to strive toward larger work. Who wouldnt want their work as big and on as many people as possible!

    Really like the pants the most though. Need to get me some of those.

  19. Kyle Wilson on September 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Great design, I really like it. you may be interested in an artist named Daemon Rowanchilde. He lives in Fergus. The tattoo’s he creates are pure art.

    Check out his website.

  20. Billy on September 20, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Okay, okay. Lets just admit I’m the real culprit behind this Catan business. + all time champion.

  21. Willem on September 25, 2010 at 2:56 am

    Gorgeous bud, can’t wait to see it for real! can’t wait to join the race, hopefully sometime this year!!

    Miss you guys.

  22. TR!SH on September 27, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Epic. Win.
    CLASS.

  23. Rueben on December 15, 2010 at 1:32 am

    Honestly, I’d travel from New Zealand to let Hooper tattoo me. In fact it’s bound to happen within the next few years.

    Beautiful tattoo.

  24. W. Shane Duquette on December 16, 2010 at 2:54 am

    You’ll know you made the right choice when he walks into the waiting room and says “allo, I’m Thomas Oopah” in his humble British accent.

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