Bert Grimm (February 8, 1900 – 1985) Born in Portland, Oregon, USA is one of the legends of mid-century American tattooing.
Maybe his best talent was his power of persuasion. He told everyone he could that he was the greatest Tattoo artist ever. And after running down the list of his famous clients like Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, so how could you not want to be tattooed by him. All his clients would later show off their work and tell how it was done be the greatest tattoo artist ever. Demand just snowballed.
As with many legends conflicting stories will arise. Some say he started in 1916 others 1927. Early in his career, Grimm spent a season with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. Throughout the years he operated shops in Chicago, Honolulu, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Seattle, Los Angeles, Long Beach, St Louis, Portland and Seaside Oregon, and China.
He worked the Pike in Long Beach, CA, operating the longest continually running shop in the nation.
A very classic American Tattoo style. The American Tradition was established between 1920 and 1960, with some designs by guys like Gus Wagner dating as far back as 1900. Most of the design motifs we see today are revivals of the highpoint in American designs from the 50’s and 60’s, artists like Sailor Jerry, Don Hardy, Bert Grimm to name a few who helped define the aesthetic.
Bert Grimm in Popular Culture
The history of tattooing amongst these negatively-viewed segments of the population, it is also possible to cite a period in the late nineteenth century when tattoos became immensely popular amongst the European aristocracy and nobility. Nonetheless, the reality is that from the time that tattooing was rediscovered in the West until relatively recently (from the 1960’s on), the majority of those westerners tattoos were young, working-class males.
best remembered today for his shop called “Bert Grimm’s World Famous Tattoo” that he operated at the Nu Pike in Long Beach, CA from the 1950s to the late 60s. Bert Grimm next tattoo shop located at #22 Chestnut Place, which almost becoming part of a Long Beach condominium development, was purchased in March of 2004 by Kari Barba and two silent partners. Barba plans to turn part of it into a museum about the shop and continue operating it as a tattoo shop.
Bert Grimm was one of the first to be inducted into the Tattoo Art Museum’s Tattoo Hall of Fame in 1983.
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