What started as one tattoo in the 1970s while Don Dumais was prospecting for a motorcycle club in Augusta, turned into a second.
Then a third.
“Then it snowballed from there,” Dumais, 59, of Poland, said with a laugh.
Dumais figures he is 95 percent covered at this point. His left leg is tattooed with famous musicians, a band he played with at Pal Hop in the 1960s, and family portraits. His right leg is cartoon work and his chest and back are covered in fantasy “under the sea” scenes.
But he has a limit to where he gets his tattoos. Dumais will not go past his wrists, ankles and neck.
“If I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt, you don’t even know I have any tattoos,” he said. He covers up when mowing the lawn to protect the sensitive colors from fading.
The work on his arms is close to eight years old, but is still as vibrant as the day he got the tattoos.
And after the many years he has endured the tattoo needle, Dumais was proud this April when his work took a first place in the cartoon category and a best in show at the Down East Tattoo Convention in Herman.
“I didn’t think we were going to place,” Dumais said as he reclined on a tattoo table at Caveman and Angie’s Tattoos on Lisbon Street in Lewiston where he gets all his work done. “It was just like, ‘Wow!’ There were a lot of people from New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and they were taking a lot of first places. I was about ready to leave. Caveman was walking out the door, and then they called our names!”
It was his full shirt — including armpits — of “Under the Sea” work by Keith “Caveman” Desrochers that took best of show.
This was Dumais’ first best of show, and Desrochers’ third.
No one can really say how long it has taken to transform Dumais into a walking art piece.
“When you have a lot of work done like Don, you kind of go backwards,” Angie Whiteley said as she worked on Dumais’ right leg, adding Fred Flinstone riding a motorcycle. “You go from having a lot of tattoos to having only one because it all turns into one large tattoo. They end up growing out of each other.”
But Dumais always defers to the tattoo artists at Caveman and Angie’s.
“I give them an idea of what I want and let them go at it. They’re the artists, I’m only the canvas!”