O, I've had such a dream...
"One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small but the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all, go ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall..." I can't really tell you exactly where it started. I've always loved the Alice in Wonderland story. It became more poignant later in life as I began to experiment with substances that gave me altered versions of reality. The first tattoo I saw based on Alice in Wonderland was in a tattoo magazine, it was of the Caterpillar and it was based on the classic Alice drawings. I thought it was great and started thinking about getting a tattoo based on the story around that time. The idea was put on the back burner for awhile and then I came across American McGee's "Alice". Now, I've never actually played the video game but I've seen the concept drawings and I fell in love. The dark, edginess it has fits very well with my vision of Alice. Cross that with "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane and you have what I wanted to go for. To me, it represents parts of my life as well as my love for children's literature and the dark side of things. My friends even got me the figurines of Alice and the Cheshire Cat that were made based on the video game. It was a great gift! I started doodling different little drawings of scenes from Alice. I knew that if I were going to get it as a tattoo it would have to include, Alice of course, as she is the main character, the Cheshire Cat, as he is my favourite character (to me he represents a certain kind of evil and malice, the same kind of thing that comes out in my own writing) and of course the Caterpillar, the epitome of snobbery. I'd be lying if I said there weren't any drug connections involved. These three characters made up the basis for what I wanted on my tattoo. I bought a book called "The Quotable Alice" that contains a bunch of quotes from both Through the Looking Glass and Adventures in Wonderland. Flipping through that I came across the perfect quote to sum it all up: "O, I've had such a dream..." With all this the idea was born. It would be about a year or so before it started to be realized. The only logical place for such a large piece as I was planning was on my back. In fact, there's much more that I want to fit in which will no doubt bring the piece around to my stomach, but that's another story that only time will tell. Due to a lack of truly talented artists where I live, I had two choices of where I could go to have the tattoo done (two choices in my mind). I decided on Shane from King of Fools in Toronto. I used to live in Toronto, I'd had experience at the shop and knew of Shane's work (most notably on Shannon and Rachel). I was nervous about how to go about setting it all up, since I was in a different province and had no way of stopping by beforehand to show him my ideas and have him come up with a drawing. I was going to be in Toronto towards the end of June until the end of the first week of July, 2002. I booked my appointment during that time and mailed off my ugly little sketch, pictures I had and a letter attempting to explain what I was going for. Alice on a bad acid trip describes what I wanted. I left the rest in the hands of fate. I couldn't begin to tell you how surprised I was when I saw the drawing that Shane had made for me. He started with Alice, saying he didn't want to do too much work on it as he wasn't sure I'd come back (being from out of province). I assured him that he and he alone would be touching this back piece and I stared in awe at the Alice he'd drawn up for me. She was like no other Alice. Full of scars and with bandaged wrists, she was perfect. She was also very big in my eyes. I'd never had a tattoo this big before. Toronto was in the middle of a heat wave and a garbage strike at this time. The air conditioner wasn't working in the studio and Shane had a fan going. I sat backwards on a chair, leaning forward with my butt as close to the edge of the chair as could be, to get my back straight and flat. When the needle first touched my skin, I felt my blood sugar drop to my feet and started to feel light headed. I took very deep breaths and the world came back into focus. I was fine. I'd been tattooed four times prior to this and never minded it but I have to say, from the time I sat down, to the four hours later when we called it quits, I was in PAIN. There was nothing pleasant about this. Thankfully the end product made it all worth it. Alice was beautiful. I'd never seen such a beautiful tattoo. I was also drained. I won't discuss prices here, that's between Shane and I but I will say that he is very kind and very generous. The next part came not too long ago when I went to Toronto once again for March break. This time I knew I had to get the cat. I couldn't wait any longer. I needed him. Once again, the drawing Shane produced was a great surprise. It was perfect. So dark and evil. This one hurt less though at times it was quite painful. It took a bit less time, at three and half hours and once again Shane was very kind and generous. The healing went better this time as there was no heat wave to contend with. The worst part is the itching and knowing you can't scratch, but soon enough that goes away. So here I am, nowhere near being done, with seven and a half hours under my belt and many ahead. I'm not sure when I'll get back to Toronto to continue my dream but I hope it is soon. The little girl that Alice was based on had black hair and so does my Alice. My tattoo is a very different take on a children's story. When people see it they often claim that it is not Alice in Wonderland. They don't know what I do. They have only ever been exposed to Disney's version of the story, this tattoo is my version. The tattoo took about a week each time to stop being scabby. The first time I didn't put lotion on it often, the second time I did. I used unscented Keri lotion both times. My back was sore for a couple of days after tattooing both times as well but after about a week it felt fine again. You can see pictures of it here and here. I couldn't recommend King of Fools or Shane Faulkner highly enough. He is truly a talented artist and I will be forever grateful to him for placing such a masterpiece on my back. Look for another part to this story in the future, when I get more work done, until then: "When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead, remember what the Dormouse said, feed your head... Feed your head..."
submitted by: Jen
on: 12 April 2003
in Fantasy Tattoos, Miscellaneous Tattoos
Artist: Shane Faulkner
Studio: King of Fools
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada