Skip to main content

Here at INKED magazine, we frequently highlight tattoo talent from metropolitan areas with populations in the millions, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas. However, tattooing can be found in every town in the U.S. these days, and the industry has grown rapidly in recent years. 

A local Kansas City radio station, KCUR 89.3, recently examined the changes that the Missouri city's evolving tattoo community has gone through, by profiling artists of three distinctive generations. 

The first artist featured is Wes Grimm, whose great-grandfather began tattooing at just 16 years old. At the time, tattooing was still taboo and the primary clientele was sailors. Today, Grimm honors his family's history by operating Grimm Tattoo, featuring artwork in the shop that predates World War I.

The second artist KCUR highlighted was Brennan O'Rourke, a former punk kid who began his career over twenty years ago. O'Rourke told the station that he got his first tattoo at the age of 16 and began working as an artist when there weren't more than five or six shops in Kansas City. Today, "there's upwards of 90 just on the Missouri side," he says, and many kids in the area have grown up with tattooed parents.

Lastly, we have Jessie Hopeless, who represents the modern generation of tattoo artists. Unlike her predecessors, Hopeless is a black-and-grey artist who primarily offers custom designs.

Head on over to KCUR and listen to the featurette for an interesting oral history.

How has tattoo culture changed in your part of the country? Tell your story in the comments section on Facebook.