White Whale Tattoo began in 2007 when I began apprenticing under one of the world’s finest tattooers. The traditional apprenticeship taught me everything about the ancient art of tattooing; building a tattoo machine from scratch to mastering linework. I’ve studied and created art as long as I can remember, but pursued tattooing while living in Guatemala where I worked in gang prisons and the largest urban slum in Central America, La Limonada. The apprenticeship in Guatemala started when I worked to create cover-up tattoos for former gang members who were leaving the gang lifestyle. Our name references the great white whale of Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby Dick, a formative novel while studying English Literature at University of Cincinnati. Hunting the white whale may be considered a metaphor for chasing after the divine; my own chase led me from serving in Guatemala to studying theology and obtaining a Master of Arts in Global Urban Leadership from Bakke Graduate University in Seattle, WA.I’ve always been passionate about the intersection of art and social justice. I’ve sat on the Advisory Council of Lemonade International, which exists to serve in the aforementioned contexts in Guatemala. Ten percent of the proceeds of our work goes to support organizations that are advocating for and empowering the economically disadvantaged. Every time you get tattooed by White Whale you are also making a difference.
White Whale has developed some beautiful relationships with organizations and individuals promoting social transformation in Guatemala. These relationships have given us the opportunity to travel to Guatemala annually, funded by people like you via Flash Day Fundraisers and individual gifts held each year at White Whale Tattoo. The trips to Guatemala allow us to cover up life-threatening tattoos for former gang members and others who are on a path of personal transformation. Our work aims to empower indigenous leaders who are changing their communities, including in the basurero (waste dump) and La Limonada, one of the largest urban slums in Central America. We are dreaming big with our friends in Guatemala about more ways people like you can get involved in the restoration of this beautiful country, and we feel personally on the hook because of the atrocities inflicted on Guatemala and other Latin American countries at the hands of North America in recent history (see Bitter Fruit by Stephen Schlesinger for an in depth look at US and Guatemala relations). Stay tuned for more exciting opportunities to support our friends in Guatemala!