Tattoo History 18: Bert Grimm

Bert Grimm was one of the most influential American tattooers of the early 20th century, getting started in the tattoo business at the age of about 15. Grimm first started hanging out at tattoo shops in Portland, Oregon, but his first job was working at the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. After working and traveling with sideshows he secured his first apprenticeship in the early 1920’s with Sailor George Fosdick in Oregon, and later he completed a two year apprenticeship with Sailor Charlie Barrs in Los Angeles.

Astraea painting by Bert Grimm and posted by Bert Grimm Official
Leo Lipe tattooed by Bert Grimm. Posted by Vintage Tattoo Archive

Throughout his 70 plus years of tattooing Bert worked in Chicago, Honolulu, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Seattle, Los Angeles, Long beach, St Louis, Portland and Seaside Oregon, and even in China. He also worked with some of the other greats of the time such as Domingo Gulang, Charlie Barr, Tatts Thomas, Red Gibbons, Walter Torun, Bob Shaw, Percy Waters, William Grimshaw, Col Todd, Owen Jensen, and others. 

Bert Grimm tiger by Darren Quinn at Sang Bleu Tattoo in London
Ed Caldwell and Bert Grimm, posted by Vintage Tattoo Archive

Bert’s World Famous Tattoo was a historic shop that he ran in Nu Pike in Long Beach, CA from the 1950’s through the 60’s where hundreds of sailors were tattooed before shipping out. 

Bert Grimm’s Sundancer
Bert Grimm suns by Hans Blue Arms at Blue Arms Tattoo in Oslo

Bert was inducted into the Tattoo Hall of Fame which was located at Lyle Tuttle’s Tattoo Art Museum in San Francisco. He retired in Seaside, Oregon but continued to tattoo out of a small shop in his home, doing around 10 tattoos a week according to a letter written to Paul Rogers.

Ed Caldwell’s back tattooed by Bert Grimm and posted by Bert Grimm Official
Crucifixion back by Bert Grimm on Jack Flux and posted by Bert Grimm Official

Some of Bert’s most well known pieces include the Sun Dancer, the smiling sun, and Lyle Tuttle’s Duel in the Sun. Other popular designs from him include tiger heads, ships, and patriotic pieces for those in the military. 

Sailor Larry’s Homeward Bound back done by Bert Grimm posted by Bert Grimm Official
Lyle Tuttle’s Duel in the Sun by Bert Grimm

Do you have a Bert Grimm Tattoo?

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Winnipeg Artist 9: Don Ritson

Don Ritson was the owner of Rebel Waltz in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Now he and his wife work out of a private studio together.

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Black and red Japanese dragon.
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Japanese geisha piece with flower kimono.
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Classic American traditional filler rose.
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Demon making off with a woman as a painful stomach piece.
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Japanese Oni demon.
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Healed lil castle and flower.

Don works in mainly in American traditional style, as well as Japanese and some black work. When doing American traditional style, his pieces are heavy on black and red.

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Jesus with the cross.
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Lady head with some spooky skeletal hands.
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Bright red chrysanthemum flower.
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Classy smoking woman.
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Classic design featuring an eagle, skull, and snake.

Don has done two of my own tattoos, both of my forearms which are a gramophone and a design based off of the rose of no mans land. Don is a very friendly guy who makes getting tattooed a genuinely pleasant experience.

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My own forearm pieces. Blackwork gramophone and rose of no mans land.
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Bert Grimm’s tiger. Lots of black with some red to make it pop.
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Creepy reaper.
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Traditional wolf. Heavy on the black!
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Rock of ages in a beautiful full back piece.

You’ll find Don taking walk ins on Saturdays, though starting earlier this month (April 2018) the shop will rotate the main artist doing walk ins. You can find Don’s contact info on the Rebel Waltz website.

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Vicious looking dragon head on the inner bicep.
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Asian woman with a wrap around snake.
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Butterfly with woman’s face.
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Statue of Liberty and the Virgin Mary.
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The Forks in Winnipeg.

Don is a must see artist if you are in Winnipeg. He also does guest spots in Canada so watch his Instagram for that as well.