Grant Van Gameren

Tattoos tell the tale of our lives. The very act is rooted in ritual, and answers an ancient urge to commit art permanently to the body. In the first interview in this three-part series, we sat down with restaurant star Grant Van Gameren to get the stories behind the body art.

First up: Grant Van Gameren Chef/Owner, Bar Isabel & Bar Raval

Tattoo tally: Countless

On finding an artist  

I primarily go to David Glantz at Archive Tattoo. It’s nice to have good conversations to keep you busy while you’re going through multiple hours of pain. You talk about a lot with your tattoo artist—life, death, money, personal life. We’re essentially walking billboards for them.

On the experience of getting inked

I had a lot of smaller tattoos along the way that I had grown out of so both sleeves were cover-ups. This really talented artist Erin Chance specializes in mermaids so we wanted to incorporate the scales with an octopus, which is dear to my heart because we sell a lot of them here. We actually did a six-hour session of [Erin and David] tattooing me simultaneously, which I had never done before. It’s painful enough to have one person tattoo you.

On having regrets

I’m not someone who over- thinks putting something on their body. For me, the tattoos have always been representative of a time and place in my life. And I’m far past caring what anyone thinks.

On the prevalence of tattoos in the industry

It’s not an issue for the job you’re doing. In the restaurant industry, we work so hard to be professionals both front and back of the house, and tattoos are kind of the “screw you” in regards to what we can do to our body and still accomplish our jobs day in and day out.

On his most meaningful tattoos

I have one on my stomach that says ‘half mine half yours’ from my ghetto gangster rapping days. It actually goes back to one of my first cooking jobs. I had a really good friend, another cook, and we were just down and out and broke the whole time for years. It was something we used to always say to each other. Whether it was money, or drugs, or marijuana, that was our thing.

It’s definitely a motto I try to live by.

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