Stories from middle America

I first met our next feature, Jen Beirola, at her Omaha tattoo shop, Grinn and Barrett, on 52nd and Center four  years ago.  Getting a tattoo is perhaps the most intimate experience to share with tattoo artist you don’t know. Luckily for me, this woman is crazy talented and has a very gentle hand – I proudly refer her to anyone who asks where I get inked.

I stopped by the relocated shop, at its new location at 30th and Leavenworth, to ask Jen to share a little about herself.


What is the favorite part of your work?
My favorite part of my work is that I enjoy it. It is true that when you do what you love it does not feel like work. I am making a living and traveling around the world doing what I love and am most interested in.
Tell me about your home life.
I live in a small one bedroom apartment in Midtown Omaha that doubles as my private art studio. I like to create art in my living space where I am surrounded by my two dogs, reference library, art, and things that I have collected in my travels.

IMG_9454What are some of your secret sources?
I try to study the masters and pull reference from historical sources. Instead of copying my favorite tattoo artists, I look at those tattoos as a source of inspiration while trying figure out what influenced them or reference how they would use it.
Who are your icons and Influences?
Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand is an important female tattooer. She’s made a name for herself as the “Godmother of Tattooing.” Tattooing has taken her all over the world and in her 70’s she continues to live an extraordinary life. I have been fortunate enough to spend time with her and become friends. Hearing her stories of adventure and sacrifice makes me feel like I’m on the right path.


What are your hobbies?
I do crossfit almost everyday. I try to spend at least an hour a day doing something active. I also have a 7 month old English Bulldog Puppy that I am putting a lot of time into training. So, I have taken on dog training as a hobby.
What are you most passionate about?
I am passionate about trying to live an extraordinary life. I try to seek out and take advantage of beneficial opportunities that come my way. Instead of making excuses about why something that I want is not possible, I try to figure out how to make it possible. That state of thought can be applied to business, art, travel, health, relationships, ect.

tattoo collage

What is your favorite thing to do in your city?
Omaha has a lot of fun 5K runs and bicycle riding events that combine exercise and partying.
What is your personal style?
I’m not sure if I have a personal style yet. I like to do bold tattoos that fit the body in a way that they look like they belong there. I love the way Traditional Japanese Tattoos are designed to fit the body. Also, having grown up in New England near a Navy base, I feel a strong connection to Nautical and Traditional Americana imagery.

My apprenticeship was under a well know fine-line artist and as a result that style is also a major influence. I hope one day I will be able to pull it all together into a recognizable style, but for now I am focused of giving each client a tattoo that they will proudly wear for the rest of their lives.


Thanks for sharing a part of your career and life with us Jen. You are truly a badass chick.

photos by Hooton Images

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