There are many great artists in Peterborough, one in particular whose talent captured this reporter and photographer. His name is Tedd Hucks, a tattoo artist who happens to be as kind as he is innovative, and who is drastically changing the medium with his precise and intricate visions for body art.
Born and raised in Peterborough, Tedd has garnered international success, as Tedd2s on Instagram and Facebook. He has gone viral with his series Shadows Tattoo Project, where he takes plants that are native to Peterborough, captures their shadows in their natural environments, and uses them as stencils.
Walking into Tedd’s studio, soft jazz music fills the space. Sunlight falling through the windows illuminates ornate shells on his sill. Tiny, intricate pieces of art comprised of clear glass bottles, earth, and micro plants have spider webs on them, undisturbed. Everywhere you look, a new piece catches your eye. Art he has created from the skulls of animals hang on the walls, and inside his shop, nature is represented in every corner.
“I like to source my own photos of wildflowers. The Shadows Tattoo Project started out with me doing that somewhere in the Trent Hills,” he tells me. “It was the right time of day in the fall, with some really good sideways sun, which is great for shadows.
“It gives more of a setting somehow, bringing out the nature of the plant itself. It was an accidental discovery that sparked an idea, and I thought to keep collecting more of them.”
The process to his work is as important and delicate as the messages hidden in the shadows nature has created for his art. “My rule is I’ll never cut it down and bring it home. I’ll bring the backdrop and take the photos while they’re still living. It’s just a personal rule for the project,” he says. “I thought it would be more meaningful than if your tattoo is from death or decapitation. It’s from life.”
Erica was the first person Tedd tattooed as part of the project. “I met Tedd almost three years ago,” she says. “I had been following him on Instagram and thought his work was beautiful, but I also fell for his poetic words and symbolism he attached to each piece. The tattoo I received was the shadow of wild orchard grass, which Tedd described as freedom of spirit and an adventurous heart.”
When Erica met Tedd, she was immediately struck by his kind and gentle demeanour, which helped her endure seven-hours-long sessions with him, with only mild discomfort. She was so inspired by the impact of his work that she wrote a poem about her tattoo, available on her blog.
Tedd’s partner Katelyn Gingras also spoke of his kindness. “The first time I met and was tattooed by Tedd I was so impressed with his kind and patient demeanour, attention to detail and placement, and his professionalism. I was thrilled with my tattoo and received many compliments. Since then I have had the pleasure of being a part of his Shadows Tattoo Project.
“His connection and inspiration from nature was something I was very drawn to. Being out in nature is something I find very healing, peaceful, and grounding, and my shadow piece was a way to symbolize that and remind me of it every day. The pieces are so beautiful and unique; I feel very lucky to be a part of the project. His creative mind, his kind soul, his compassionate heart is unlike any other.”
When asking photographer Samantha Moss why this would be one of her last monumental projects in Peterborough before embarking on a new career abroad, we discussed the importance of unconventional art in Peterborough. “I don’t think a lot of people see tattoos as art,” she says. “I wanted to create a series that would showcase Tedd’s work in a soft, delicate, inviting way, contrary to the more edgy, grunge style that is often affiliated with tattoos. People get tattoos for a lot of different reasons and I find that element quite fascinating in and of itself. This is something that is very unique to the art; when someone gets a tattoo we are inclined to ask about its meaning.”
Photos by Samantha Moss.