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?

Blog post edited by Harrison R.

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Winnipeg Artist 8: Dave Lao

Dave Lao is a black and grey artist working out of his private studio, Lone Wolf Studios in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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Dark religious piece.
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Realistic Greek god/monster back piece.
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Crazy surf tattoo with shark.
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Centaur and flowers.
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Game of Thrones’ Daenerys.

Dave works in realism and sketch work styles. Much of his work is portraiture, such as characters from shows and movies, and lots of animals.

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Roman statue styled piece.
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Eyeball with a space theme.
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Beautiful elephant back piece.
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Angry polar bear.
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Virgin Mary portrait.

Dave has an impeccable attention to detail; with every line counting.

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Terrifying grim reaper.
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Greek/Roman surreal piece.
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Greek god Atlas.
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Portrait/ sketch work style lion.
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Surreal woman portrait and nature themed piece.

Most of his portfolio is made up of somewhat larger pieces, but he will also do smaller tattoos which are just as impressive.

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Nautical themed hand.
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Canadian army memorial piece.
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Realistic king piece.
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Small photo realistic swiss army knife.
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Gas mask and chopper.

Dave is a must see artist for black and grey work in Winnipeg.

Artist of the Month: Sean Baltzell

Sean Baltzell is a thirty something year old, old school traditional artist working out of Tower Classic Tattooing in St. Louis. Sean is a talented artist who draws inspiration from skateboard graphics and album artwork from his younger days, mixing them with timeless old school designs, such as nautical themes, Japanese style, women, and animals.

sean baltzell tattooing

A portfolio by Brian Cummings shows clients who have been tattooed, some quite heavily, by Sean Baltzell.

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Sleeves, hands, ribs, stomach, chest, back, and even head and face tattoos on this man.
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Japanese style sleeve featuring a Hannya, snake, flowers, and a patterned background.
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Killer chest piece and sleeve.
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American traditional mixed with Japanese traditional makes a great dragon head.
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Smoking woman with a traditional flower.
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Another rad sleeve featuring a nautical theme with a ship in a bottle, swallow, woman, eagle, and more. The dots and stars brings it all together nicely.

What’s your favorite piece of his?