Beyond Tattoos and Taboo

This post is dedicated to profiling two friends who have both figuratively and literally become a permanent part of my life in some incredible ways.

I wanted to get a tattoo. It was the first winter of my marriage and my husband and I were living apart between France and the United States while we saved money and worked through the maze of bureaucracy that is trying to secure a visa for a spouse in Europe.  It almost goes without saying, this was a very tough time. During the last night of ur honeymoon we were talking playfully about getting couples tattoos. While we laughed at the cheesiness of it, the idea would not go away. And after a pretty descent amount of red wine and my husband scribbling we had come up with an idea sandwiched somewhere between a pirates jolly roger and an aristocratic family seal.

Transforming any concept into reality is always the adventure and challenge of creativity. It becomes much more of a voyage when you and your husband have come up with a project that neither of you have the talent or skill sets to realize on your own. So where would we turn for such important assistance? As with most things we knew someone who knew someone. My husbands best friend (outside me of course!) is a tall drink of water that goes by the name, Evan, and, unlike us, Evan had tattoos as well as a better understanding of the grammatical rules concerning comma use. Emails were exchanged. A date was set.

Thus, on a snowy January afternoon in Cincinnati, we got our first taste of the inspiring couple that is Becki her husband Jeremiah Griswold, and our first pain as pleasure experience that is being tattooed! I must clarify here that the word “inspiring” comes pretty cheap these days as food bloggers use it to describe hot dogs and film critics throw it at super hero sequels. When I say they inspire me I mean it with the gravity and sincerity of a black hole.

The scope of this fact is a little too broad to tackle in writing a blog post as the examples are many. Further, the value of the friendship we as couples and individuals have found in each other has arrived at a “past words” status in many respects. So I am am choosing to instead simply represent this affinity by doting on the world within the four walls of the their tattoo studio, White Whale, and how they employ their shop as a tool for even greater ambitions. For a more detailed and fascinating glimpse into the origins and driving convictions of White Whale you must check out http://www.whitewhaletattoo.com.

As I’m sure you’ve now read after being to their website, Jeremiah is the guy behind the tattoo gun at White Whale, and as such he is nearly 100% responsible for the growing collection of art on myself and husband. Equally essential to the success of the ship is her lovely captain, Becki. It’s impressive enough to watch her make the trains run on time, but it is other to see and experience her grace. I often struggle with a world of insecurities and it can sometimes be difficult being around a beautiful and powerful woman without there being a sense of intimidation. With Becki it is the opposite. She is magnetic. Once I step into her world she never lets up until I feel like I’m home. If I’m anxious about some incoming pain, she has me laughing. If I’m at a loss for things to talk about, she in a whirlwind of crazy stories, hilarious podcast recommendations, killer make-up tips and, vitally, a passionate array of perspectives on values, politics and relationships.

The environment at White Whale is as rare as the power couple at it’s heart. While the antique harpoons are unusual decor for the stereotype of a tattoo parlor, the break from tradition that is most beautiful to me is the fact that White Whale’s staff is almost entirely female! There are few things more refreshing than seeing a business focus so much on finding and fostering female talent. Seriously, check these girls out !

Earlier I mentioned vaguely that Becki and Jeremiah employ White Whale as a tool for greater things. That brings us to Flash Friday, an event recently held at the shop. For those of you unfamiliar with what Flash tattoos are all about I refer you to the interweb:) At this event Jeremiah and the White Whale crew were able to tattoo over 70 individuals in one marathon day. On it’s face that’s pretty stand alone awesome, but what makes it incredible is why they did it. Becki, Jeremiah and the staff are going to Guatemala in early 2018. They did the same in early 2017, but that wasn’t exactly a vacation the way one might think of a trip to CentrAl America. They go to tattoo. More specifically, to help former gang members transition out of the lifestyle by preforming cover ups of old gang related ink with new art that in both a literal and symbolic way embody rebirth. This was the motivation behind the mayhem that was this latest Flash Friday. The effort raised over $10,000 towards the costs associated with White Whale’s charitable efforts in Guatemala! Efforts you likely are familiar with since you already went to http://www.whitewhaletattoo.com.

See what I was getting at towards the beginning of this? Among myriad things I could say profiling my friends, what they do and what to they mean to me and others in their orbit… Inspiring is as certain as true north.

Click here to view video of my shoulder piece.

Click here to view video of Boby’s arm.

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