October 10, 2017
To scroll through images of Dan Pemble’s artwork is to rollercoaster through pop culture, religious iconography, deep familial nostalgia and, here and there, super scary monsters. He’s good at what he does. Really good. Faces needled into swathes of skin seem alive, as if they’re about to start a conversation. Or finish one. Animals seem poised to pounce or bite or alight on feathered wings that, in all their impeccable detail, appear truly capable of flight.
“I’d like to think that people take note of our commitment to this,” says Dan of his nationally-regarded art. “We think highly enough of the process and respect it enough to consider it sacred.”
That sense of the sacred is, in fact, so central to Dan’s perspective that he made it the banner over his tattoo shop on Marquette, Michigan’s Washington Street, and the foundation of his contract with each customer who steps inside and sits down in one of his reclining chairs: a commitment to treat every design as sacrosanct. With every plunge of the needle, that promise.
But to be defined by a single pursuit, a single expertise, is to prematurely bracket Pemble, whose interests are as multifaceted as his exquisite artwork.
Not that he would, but Pemble could kick you expertly in the head using a skillset honed during years of competitive muay thai kickboxing.
“There’s something very honest about it, very primal,” says Dan, who was introduced to the sport by his father—also a practitioner. “To have a positive way to channel that is pretty cool.”
Dan channeled well, bringing home a total of 6 national titles and one world title in his ten-year career before transitioning to instructor at a gym down the street from his tattoo shop.
And yet for all that grit and aggression he’ll stop and—get this—rescue an injured fawn while boating with his friends off the coast of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
It wasn’t a photo-op. No reality TV cameras were rolling on the periphery that day. Pemble simply saw a need, knew he could help, and snapped into action—bandaging a wound and releasing the young deer onto a safe, nearby beach.
And that’s Dan Pemble, whose life is about more than ink, more than athletic accolades. It’s about faith, he says. It’s about family. And it’s about balance, a core belief he recently articulated as a presenter at a national tattoo conference in D.C.
Facing a room of artists and fellow shop-owners, he said: “You’re going to look back on this road thirty, forty, fifty years from now, and you’re not going to remember those extra couple dollars you made, but you are going to remember that time you missed with your kids or that wedding you had to skip.’”
Balance, says Dan. Mind, body, and spirit. Relationships and economics, reaching out and looking in. Art and faith and family.
These are the stories of real people who embody, emulate, or otherwise exhibit the short-list of values we care about most at Stormy Kromer—kindness, family, neighborliness, resilience, graciousness, strength, adventure, and a love of the elements (both urban and natural)—despite any adversity. We build caps, clothes, and accessories for a special community that’s not only eager to thrive within those elements, but also give something back. Our clothes are made like them. Like you. These are your stories.