Thomas Hooper is a fine artist and tattooer based in Austin, TX, but originally hails from Sussex, England. He spent several years tattooing at Saved in Brooklyn, NY and it was then that he met Andrew and Johan of 3sixteen. What began as a client-tattooer relationship eventually grew into a friendship. We had the privilege of interviewing him for our Singularities editorial site in 2012. A year later, Thomas contributed his design talents to our 10 year anniversary Decade Collection.
Thomas’ work centers around themes of sacred geometry, eastern religion, and nature and is instantly recognizable by tattoo aficionados. Clients travel from around the world for his tattoo work, but he still reserves time to focus on his fine art career. He’s had a solo exhibition at Nepenthes New York and has participated in group shows around the USA. He also releases original artwork and prints through Raking Lights Projects throughout the year.
Last year, we were approached by Journal Standard to produce a capsule collection with Thomas. The aim was to put together an assortment of clothing that both featured his artwork and was designed to his specifications. From fabric selections to sewing details, every piece was thoughtfully considered and we are proud to finally share the results with you.
Thomas' love of nature began at a young age; as a child living in the East Sussex countryside, he spent hours exploring the outdoors. He shares that this connection has not only grown but evolved over time:
As an adult, I realize that the flora and fauna that surround us are supporting us - not just physically through the environment and air, but also mentally. When I'm in nature, I am at peace. It's almost as if nature rearranges your brain waves and makes you more grounded and at one with yourself.
As we sought to incorporate themes of nature into this capsule collection, Thomas expressed a desire for the work to have a handmade nature to it. Thus, all of the artwork featured throughout is completely illustrated by hand. We asked him to share more about the flower that he drew for us:
The flower I used on the graphic tee and bandana is inspired by the Japanese Yellow Rose (Kerria Japonica). When we sat down to brainstorm different flowers that we could feature, Andrew and Johan shared how they liked the way I drew Chrysanthemums. Being that this collection was slated for a Spring/Summer release for Journal Standard, I thought a flower that blooms in spring and summer would be best, but I still approached my studies and illustrations in a way similar to my Chrysanthemums. In doing so, I ended up with my own sort of hybrid rose.
The Asanoha Workshirt features a traditional Japanese 6-diamond pattern inspired by the hemp leaf. Repetitive geometric patterns are foundational to Thomas' artwork, so this fabric spoke to him and we created a new shirt silhouette to match it. The pocket shapes are inspired by ones on an old workshirt that Thomas owns; we loved the slightly rounded corners on the pocket and the flap closure. The shirt is finished with burnt horn buttons for a warm, organic feel.
Practicality was top of mind in conceptualizing several of the pieces. Thomas lives and works in Austin, TX where it is 100+ degrees three months out of the year. We opted for fabrics that were not too heavy and would wash down well, since any garment that Thomas wears while tattooing would need to be washed often. The Japanese herringbone twill (HBT) we sourced starts off with some heft, but softens up and breaks in beautifully over time. The cap is a custom silhouette that was produced for us by Knickerbocker and features a deep crown and a short unstructured bill which also makes it easy to throw into the wash whenever it's dirty. Thomas was very specific in how he envisioned the cap coming together:
I have a massive head, so I wanted something that was deeper than average and would not slip off constantly or be too tight. Because I work 40 to 50 hours a week tattooing, I wanted something I could wear that would not obstruct my vision by casting a shadow in the area that I was working on.
Rounding out the collection are two indigo selvedge bandanas featuring original artwork by Thomas; they are produced in Japan and one batch is hand dyed with sumi ink for a darker effect. We also used the Kirria Japonica artwork to produce enamel pins and embroidered patches that can be used to decorate the otherwise understated pieces in the collection.
The Thomas Hooper for 3sixteen Capsule Collection is currently available in Japan via Journal Standard stores and will release on 3sixteen.com this Friday, August 17th at noon EDT in limited quantities.