Karl Bumpus: Tattooed by Bert Grimm

Karl Martin Bumpus (1905-1982) was born in Howland, Ohio in 1905. He was employed as a brakemen for The Baltimore & Ohio Rail Road, but when worked dried up during the Great Depression, he looked for other ways to make ends meet. Bumpus drifted until eventually landing in St. Louis, where he received a beautiuful body suit from Bert Grimm and, evidently, instruction in the mysterious art & craft of tattooing. During the 1930s, he scraped together a living as a tattooed attraction and tattoo artist at carnivals throughout the southwest, operating under the professional name Karl Lark. Bumpus eventually resumed work as a brakeman, but continued to moonlight as a tattoo artist from his house in Garrettsville, Ohio until he retired from the trade in 1976. 


Karl Bumpus, Tattoo Artist and Tattooed Man, Photo Postcard, ca. 1935

Derin Bray