Alexa Hebert Talks Manga Tattoos and Tattooing vs Orthodontistry!
Patrick Coste: Hey, hey, wassup Alexa? It was nice to see you in Calgary. How’ve you been since? You and your furry friend, that is…
Alexa Hebert: Hey, hey! We’re well, Elliot and I, always something going on! It was nice to see you in Calgary. What an hectic show it was for me!
PC: Elliot, that’s it! A very nice Bernese Mountain Dog :) Let’s talk about dogs before we get into tattoo talk! Lol…
AH: Yes, lol, that's it. He’s been very dear to me for the past 11 years!
PC: Eleven! Wow, eh? What a milestone for any dog…
AH: Yes, especially since the Bernese Mountain Dog’s lifespan is about 8 years.
PC: WOW, and ouff! You must see the difference nowadays?
AH: Yes, but the routine is ok. We sure used to go for long hikes, and so for 3 years… it’s harder. We do smaller walks, but even then at times it’s hardcore for him. He’s an old pépé now.
You know, we’re quite close, lol, he’s there to give me a little hit with his paw when I’m sad, or a great gaze at me when I’m happy!
PC: Geez Alexa… you’re gonna make me cry a bit… Let’s talk about tattoos now, lol!
AH: Lol, ok. I’m ok with that!
PC: We’ve just arrived from Calgary you and I, and I got to know you a bit more on the way home. Thank you for that! You were saying that it was a great show but you had some mishaps before the show, and it’s totally not like you eh?
AH: Lol, well I survived… Ah yes, now people will be curious! Lol, I always have my share of misadventures. Just before Calgary I forgot my passport... It cost me a huge taxi fare because of it! My power supply died, travel bag died too... and more! Lol!
PC: OK, ok, lol. Alright, now tattooing… You know where I’m going with this question. How long have you been at this thing called tattooing?
AH: I started about 10 years ago. Well, more like 9, and I started in Repentigny, Quebec. Like many, I always loved tattoos at a very, very, young age. I was 9 years old and I was drawing non-stop and was asking my mom for a tattoo.
When I was around 12 years old, it was at the time when “Miami Ink” was on TV and my brother, who was 13 years older, was watching it and that caught my attention for a lifetime.
Until that point, I was going to be an orthodontist! But then at 15, the idea of becoming a tattooer hit me hard, so I went to CEGEP in art and then art school after that.
It was a self-learning process for me and I was getting tattooed at the same time. At one point I started to work in a shop. Not the best one, let's say. One year later, I decided to leave for a better spot, MTL Tattoo.
This was going to be 3 years of great learning with the great people over there. I also worked with Sabrina Sawyer for a while until Aurel and I decided to open L’atelier des Graveurs in Montreal.
PC: Very nice. Truly a great story, I’m sure many can relate. I’m always amazed when people tattoo their passion. In your case, you do A LOT of manga, anime and other related tattoos… But it wasn't always like that, eh?
AH: No, in fact it’s fairly new and I love it so much! I was much more into Neo-Traditional tattoos when I started, but during these recent years, and a big break we had ;P, I fell into manga and anime. Like, I was drawn into it.
What I really want is to be a video game character like those in Final Fantasy, but with my own spin. I had no intention of leaving Neo-Trad. I thought it was frightening, but I had support and encouragement from quite a lot of people!
PC: Right. You were sort of born into manga, video games etc....
AH: I was born into video games very young because of my brothers, and only started anime and manga during Covid! The anime community is very old and big, and let’s say I’m still a newbie to everything. I will never say no to a Neo-Trad project that’s for sure!
PC: Damn, those are so unknown to me, lol. You were saying, when we started, that the routine is well… What would a regular day be like for you?
AH: I usually plan for 1 tattoo a day. I start and finish the tattoo, it’s generally how it goes. Sometimes it’s a long session for both of us, tattooer and tattooee. I give 200% of what I can.
I also finish my drawing, like from A to Z with colour and everything, before the tattoo. If the person wants it, I can print it and it also gets me into the zone as far as knowing where I’m going with the piece.
PC: This is great, a very nice twist to the whole tattoo thing. I love it! Tell me what was the biggest challenge you faced by opening a shop in ever-greater Montreal?
AH: Oh, this is a rock and roll thing for me, lol. I knew how to tattoo but the social media aspect and promoting was hard for me. But it became stimulating and we found ways to do it, and it worked!
PC: Like that cute little character you do sometimes…lol!
AH: Oh, lol. Oui!
PC: Lol, so that Calgary story isn't at all like you, right? It was funny when you told me about it, but not too much fun when you are in it! You were saying that you’re not typically like that…Lol!
AH: Yes, now people will be curious! Lol! Personally, I’m very on top of my business usually… I’m very “square” on that side of things, it’s easy for me!
PC: So it’s a good thing for the shop! I see a lot of publicity, so you must be doing something right…
AH: Oui, Aurel and I love doing Flash Day, thematic days like Halloween.
The location is also awesome. We’re on “la rue Clark”, with a fair sized area to host more tattoo artists and/or guest spots without stepping on each other!
PC: This is great, planning for the future too! I’m still amazed by the fact that some artists, of all styles, are able to do what they love… In your case manga. Just a few years ago that wasn’t a tattoo subject whatsoever! That in itself is magical.
AH: Thank you. I’d always dreamed of doing Neo-Traditional tattoos and I did, and will do so.
Nowadays anime and manga is much more accepted and seen less as a “super mega geek” thing, so it opened a huge door for tattooing this in particular. Everything is pretty new to me but it drives me a lot!
It’s the same with technology. I would never have thought about going fully digital with a tablet. I can be so productive. It’s just so inclusive in my process now and I can finish all of the designs every time.
PC: What’s your favourite anime?
AH: I would go with “Jujutsu Kaisen”, “My Hero Academia”, and “Erased”.
PC: Back to drawing… Do you find that you now have more time to “do other stuff” because of the time you save? What are your hobbies?
AH: Oui, I’m a big gamer; PS5. I was into one-person shooters for a while, like Fallout 4, Skyrim, Witcher, and Final Fantasy.
PC: Lol, I see the relation here… Sweet!
AH: That’s why I’m trippin’ so hard on the manga thing and that I’m in it at 200%, and that I draw a lot. It’s also a hobby for me, and nowadays even more!
PC: Such passion, I love it! So what’s next for you Alexa Hebert?
AH: Hmmm, let me think a bit here...
AH: Lol, not that much… But I don’t look too far ahead. It’s cool to have goals, but not too many. I give everything I’ve every day without planning a ton. I get very anxious if I do.
PC: I feel you…
AH: So, I go about my day without stressing… Well, sometimes I do, but in a good way. When I get crazy ideas I forget to sleep and everything. Overall it’s not good, but sometimes I like it!
PC: Alexa, I feel that you’ve gotten a lot done in a decade of tattoo life. I can’t wait to see where you’re gonna be in the next 10 years!
Thank you very much for taking the time to chat with me!