Joe and Mabel Darpel

Bert Grimm tattooed Joe Darpel from head to toe and then Joe took his Bert Grimm body suit on the road and worked as an attraction and tattoo artist for such outfits as the Greater Alamo Show in 1921 and the Wortham Show from 1925 through 1926. Joe met his wife Mabel, who was a…

Earl Brown

Earl Brown

Earl Brown tattooed in many locations during his career. At his Kentucky tattoo shop, Brown called himself a master tattooist with 35 years’ experience. His card stated, “I originate what others imitate.” It is believed Brown may have learned tattooing from Bert, possibly in St. Louis. Earl Brown’s birth date is unknown, but when he…

Tom Berg

Tom Berg

Tom Berg was an English tattooist who came to the United States at the turn of the century. He is known to have tattooed in San Francisco where he worked doing hand and electric tattooing. As with many tattooists of that era, Berg offered designs, stencils and color for sale. His shop was in one…

Ernie Carafa

Born in 1946, started tattooing at age 16 by trading fireworks for tattoo equipment. After almost 50 years of working as a tattoo artist, Carafa, originally from Brooklyn and now New Jersey, has recently retired. He learned from one of the best, Paul Rogers. Carafa helped to create new and affordable quality pigments. He has…

Gus Wagner

Gus Wagner

Augustus “Gus” Wagner (1872-1941) “World’s Champion Hand Tattoo Artist and Tattooed Man,” was one of the most exuberant figures in the history of American popular culture. As tattooist and showman, he adorned thousands of customers and thrilled audiences from coast to coast in the early years of the 20th century. Gus was born in Marietta,…

Stoney St. Clair

Stoney St. Clair

Leonard L. St. Clair (1912-1980), nicknamed “Stoney”, was a circus performer and tattoo artist born in West Virginia. As a child, Stoney was crippled by rheumatic fever and confined to a wheelchair. His father, a coal miner, used up the family savings, eventually losing the family’s home, to keep young Stoney at Johns Hopkins Hospital…

Captain Jack Howard

Captain Jack Howard

Capt. Jack Howard (1870 – 1921) settled on Barbary Coast in San Francisco after traveling with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Note drawings of Buffalo Bill Cody on the top of this sheet and the images of Annie Oakley on the left side near the bottom..

Charles ‘Red’ Gibbons

Charles ‘Red’ Gibbons

Red Gibbons (1879-1964) Little is known about Red Gibbons’ early life, other than he had worked as a tattoo artist in an arcade in Spokane, Washington. He gained notoriety through Anna Gibbons, who he met in Washington. The couple married in 1912, and moved to California to work together in the tattoo trade. Anna went…

Owen Jensen

Owen Jensen (1891-1976) was born in 1891 in Pleasant Grove, Utah. As a young man he worked in the railroad shop in Ogden, Utah. Jensen has said that in 1911 he walked 12 miles to Provo to see the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show and that was where he saw his first tattooed man. Owen…

Samuel F. O’Reilly

Considered to be the godfather of the American Tattoo, Samuel was tattooing as early as 1875. He developed the first electric tattoo machine based on Thomas A. Edison’s autographic printing pen. On the Bowery he ran a small parlor at 11 Chatham Sq. He was very successful due to his tattoo machine design which modern…