Baxter's Blog


Posted in Human Interest by misterroadtripper on November 10, 2010

Except for a couple of date changes (like the number of years she has been in the business), here’s a story that was published back in 2007, shortly after we moved to Portland, Oregon. It’s from a feature we did on the tattoo shops in the city.

Mary Jane photo by Bernard Clark


If an industry is judged by the enthusiasm, dedication and talent of its artists, Portland is a world-class tattoo town because of people like Mary Jane Haake. A disarmingly positive and attractive woman, Mary Jane earned a B.A. in tattooing, and, after befriending Bert Grimm and his wife, Julie, back in the late ’70s, became not only Grimm’s final apprentice but one of tattooing’s most resourceful and clever businesspeople. Ever involved, Mary Jane markets a line of cosmetic products, successfully owns and manages various rental properties and has tattooed everyone, from art collectors to motorcycle cops, at her posh tattoo digs in the heart of downtown. I know for a fact that, without her assistance, I would never have found my way through snow flurries and freeway off ramps to complete this project.

As a liaison between the tattoo world and Portland business community, Mary Jane has operated her low-profile, second-story studio for nearly 35 years, the longest single-location run on the West Coast and, perhaps, in the nation. Specializing in tattooing folks with special requirements, such as inking logos for the local motorcycle cops, the SWAT team and FBI, Mary Jane has a national reputation for cosmetic tattooing. Not everyone can ink a perfect eyebrow nor cover a port-wine birthmark or skin graft as well as M.J. Just ask other tattooers; no one’s better.

Click for Site

At the photo session, along with Jay Westphal’s pouncing tiger, Mary Jane’s most recent work, in came a fellow named George, sporting Mary Jane’s very first, a small leg tattoo. “Who’d ever guess that that tattoo was the beginning of a 35-year career?” quips Mary Jane. George, by the way, was a fixture around the old Bert Grimm shop in the ’70s. The story is, Bert paid George to sleep in the entrance at night, to keep the bums from pissing in the doorway. That was back in the day when Bert used to say, “When someone wants to get a tattoo, they expect to go to Skid Row.” Quite an accomplishment to elevate herself from the Tenderloin to a beautifully appointed studio, pristine, white Cadillac and silver-tipped cowboy boots. Brains and beauty. For Mary Jane Haake, a winning combination.


DERMIGRAPHICS (tattoo shop)
DERMALSOURCE.COM (environmentally sane tattooing products)

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