The story of my fox tattoo, "Pathfinder".
Years ago I did my apprenticeship in tattooing at an Oshawa, Ontario tattoo parlour. The artist teaching me was Greg Hodge (http://greghodgefinearts.yolasite.com/) a phenom of an artist whose idols in the tattoo industry were, Tom Renshaw and Bob Tyrell. His passion was wildlife tattoos. I watched him constantly push himself to the limit, always seeking to improve his technique and that was an inspiration to me as an artist trying to find his place in the field. I haven't found a specific genre of inking I prefer over all others, but both Greg and the other artist I apprenticed under, Josh Tremblay had their influences. I enjoy wildlife tats like Greg and Horror tats like Josh (the Pet Sematary tattoo story is next), then I throw in the fantasy and pin-ups I've always drawn.
But this story is about the fox tattoo Greg did on my lower back.
I'd been bugging Greg for a few months to tattoo a fox on me for a month or so. My nickname has been some variation of "Fox"since I was a kid. Originally I wanted an oriental style fox climbing from my leg to my shoulder. Greg balked at the idea (I was asking him to take time away from paying clients, so I could completely understand). I had to come up with a way to interest him in my project. So I asked him what kind of fox he would like to do. A day went by and then he called me into the office. Right there on the PC's screen was the design I didn't know I wanted so much, because I'd never seen it before. He was showing me a picture of Carl Brender's painting called, "Pathfinder". It's a red fox with its nose to the ground, sniffing through the woods. The painting is incredibly subtle in its beauty, but is also unbelievably realistic to the point of looking more real than a photograph. I questioned how close Greg could get to the original with only using black and grey. I trusted him, don't get me wrong on that. I just couldn't see how such an amazing painting could be translated to skin.
He told me how good it turns out is up to me. One thing few tattoo clients realize is how difficult it is to create a work of art on a canvas that is constantly moving. You're breathing, you're talking, you're scratching an itch and the whole time your artist has to compensate for that. If you're texting on your phone while getting tattooed anywhere on your upper body, you may not realize it but you are moving the area being tattooed. If I wanted Greg's best work, I needed to barely even breath.
We had music going. I tuned out the music (it was more for his benefit anyway) and I slipped into the zone. You don't feel anything when you're in the zone. Nothing is happening in your world. You're not thinking, you're not feeling, and you're certainly not moving. Nothing can distract you, not even six and a half hours of having some guy running needles over your back to get every detail just right. It feels like a bad sunburn when you take a break though.
I kept still and he did his best work. A month and a half later the tattoo won for "Most Realistic" at Northern Ink Exposure, in Toronto. The tattoo looks like a black and grey version of the painting.
A year later I found a print of that painting for sale in a local art store. I couldn't afford the $400 price tag at the time but the guy selling it couldn't believe it was a tattoo on my back when he compared it with the painting. He said it was impossible to imagine such a likeness done on skin with a little needle and ink.
Four months ago I found another print of "Pathfinder" and this time I had the cash. It's now hanging on my wall in all of its signed and numbered beauty.
It's like I say, how well your tattoo turns out is up to your artist and you. You have to find your path into the zone and just chill there. You will become your artist’s favorite client to work on and you will walk away with a tattoo you can be proud of. It might even end up an award winner.
You can see the painting at this link http://www.world-wide-art.com/art/shpg13142441889348043ctvaid13736/framing/limagesm.html
You can see the tattoo in my "My Tattoos" album, once I have it posted in the next day or so.
Be sure to stop in at Greg Hodge Fine Arts the website and check out his pastel & oil paintings, along with his wicked photography.
submitted by: brandon_fox_layng
on: 26 Aug. 2011
in Wildlife and Nature Tattoos