Frank Hoffmaster was an artist.
Before he died in the early morning hours of May 20, Frank’s ink left behind indelible images on the skin and his spray paint brought life to walls throughout the Quad-Cities. His tattoo and mural work was vivid and realistic, and displayed a passion for sharing what he saw.
Frank founded 3-D Skin Lab in Davenport in 2014 after working in tattoo parlors in the Quad-Cities. His most recent mural, found on the side of Hilltop Grocery & Spirits on Harrison Street, was made in memory of Italia Kelly and Breasia Terrell.
Ivy Hoffmaster’s earliest memories of her father can be described as vague impressions brought to life by love and sustained by memory.
“I think I was 2 years old. … And it was my birthday,” Ivy said “My dad filled my room with all these balloons. When I woke up, my mom and my dad sang to me. Then, I remember my dad and me dancing in the living room.”
Ivy said the void left by her father’s passing would never be filled. She called her father “her best friend” and spoke to him “about everything” from the mundane to the deeply personal.
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Frank might have been known across the Quad-Cities for the vivid murals and throughout the world for realistic tattoo renderings, but Ivy didn’t hesitate when asked to name something most people didn’t know about her father.
“Tell them how he was in a Christian rock band when he was young,” she said. “That will surprise people. Frank was religious. There was a time, I think, when he went to church every day.”
And there was the time he gave a woman in the Walmart parking lot the coat off his back.
“The woman was there, cold, so my dad gave her the coat off his back,” Ivy said. “To think of my father gone just breaks me.”
Christina Kubicek, Frank’s sister, said her brother likely died at around 2:30 am Saturday of what she called “acute illness.” The family plans an autopsy to learn more about his death.
Like Ivy, Kubicek also witnessed the artist’s endless desire to give.
“My body is covered in Frank’s art. I always got my tattoos done at his house after he was done at the shop,” she explained. “One night I’m meeting him at his house, and it’s winter. Cold. It’s not even 30 degrees outside.
“So here comes Frank. He pulls up in his car, gets out, and he doesn’t have a shirt or a hoodie on. He loved his hoodies. He just had on pants and shoes. He explained to me that outside his shop was a man who only had a raggedy old coat — no shirt. So Frank gave him his shirt and hoodie. He said he figured that guy needed that stuff more than him.”
Kubicek said her brother always had something special about him.
“He was always drawing. He drew on everything,” she said. “We grew up in California with my mom, a single mother raising three kids. So we were poor. We got our stuff at the thrift store. Frank loved to take things apart and make them better. He would buy a radio and fix it up. He did this thing once: He made a mega boom box. It was three boom boxes combined into one giant boom box. You should have seen it.”
Kubicek and the rest of the family had a word for Frank’s ability to rebuild and fix things.
“We’d say he ‘Frankensteined it,’ ” she said. “The best was our TV. We had this TV with vice grips for dials and almost no sound. We had to sit really close just to hear a whisper. But Frank figures out a way to fire this TV to the boom box. No more sound issues.”
The TV even made the move to Davenport.
“It didn’t die until I poured my sea monkeys down it,” Kubicek said.
She said her brother was a great artist — and a great listener.
“He was always sincerely interested in what people had to say and what clients wanted,” she said. “He listened and told stories and people connected with him. He loved art. And people saw that.”
Ivy described one of her father’s legacies.
“We went to Floyd’s Burgers & Sliders, a food truck my dad painted,” Ivy said. “And there were two guys there with my dad’s art on their arms.
“I lost a piece of my heart when my dad died. But so many people have part of him with them. It’s almost surreal right now, missing him so much and seeing him in so many places.”
Frank’s family has started a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses. Individuals can donate at https://bit.ly/3lDUSBQ.