Inspired ink

3rd Heart Tattoo owner creates relationships and art in downtown Washougal

A local father of two girls and two boys credits his dad for encouraging his artistic endeavors from an early age.

Ryan “Boomer” Boomhower, 36, said he has drawn, painted and sculpted since he was a child and could pickup a crayon.

“I’ve had a fascination of creating, even from a young age, putting what was in my head on paper or canvas or drawing on walls,” he said. “I had a huge amount of family support to draw and color.”

Boomhower said his dad spent time with him, gently critiquing his drawings.

His dad had a career in advertising, that included sketching logos for companies in the Portland and Vancouver area.

“He would take me in a little suit to see clients with him, because it was cheaper than daycare,” Boomhower said regarding his summers from the age of 5 to 10. “I would sit patiently and quietly, watching him as he talked to clients.”

Pursuing a dream in Washougal

Boomhower, a Washougal resident, opened 3rd Heart Tattoo, LLC, in downtown Washougal, Oct. 24.

He has been a tattoo artist for more than eight years.

That experience, as well as a one-year formal apprenticeship, was gained at Painless Ric’s Tattoo Studio, in downtown Camas.

Boomhower said some of his customers asked when he was going to open his own studio.

“It was time for me to branch off and do this on my own,” he said.

Boomhower said it is important for his children to see him follow through with pursuing his dream.

He remembers when he was inspired to use his artistic talent, to consider a career in tattooing. Boomhower watched the second episode of the first season of “Miami Ink,” on TLC.

The TV show is about a group of tattoo artists.

At that time, he did not have any tattoos.

Now Boomhower has some designs on his left arm and both legs.

“Tattoos are not just for hooligans, sailors and people who have been to prison,” he said. “Tattoos are an art form, for soccer moms, doctors, attorneys and grandmas.”

Boomhower said his oldest client, age 96, has commemorated several of her birthdays with rose and butterfly tattoos.

“She wanted tattoos since she was 20,” he said.

Some individuals who have completed half-marathons, marathons and triathlons, are inspired to get tattoos, in recognition of their achievements. The same can be said for some participants in the Susan G. Komen “Race For The Cure” and “other movements of support for different afflictions,” according to Boomhower.

Washington State law requires that people must be at least 18 years old, in order to get a tattoo.

Eclectic, traditional American and Japanese style tattoos are among the more popular designs locally. Other requests are for script work, of names and phrases.

Tattoos are available in black and gray, as well as color. Tattoo cover ups are also available.

Customers cross state lines

Some of Boomhower’s clients have traveled from Idaho, Seattle, Kennewick, and Cascade Locks and Salem, Ore.

He considers his customers to be friends.

They include Traci Grieve, a 1983 Washougal High School graduate.

Her previous tattoos created by Boomhower include astrology signs of family members.

Grieve, 49, had “It’s not my problem,” tattooed on one of her wrists, after she quit a job she held for 10 years.

There are also tattoos of three butterflies breaking away from a ball and chain, indicating her feelings after a divorce.

The butterflies signify Grieve and her two sons.

“Everyone has a story,” she said. “It’s therapy.”

On Thursday, Grieve’s newest tattoo involved a Boomhower sketch depicting the concept of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” on her right arm.

“Don’t be ugly,” she said, to explain what the design means to her. “God don’t do ugly.”

Boomhower said the relationships with his clients make his job special.

“That’s where the success of my career has been,” he said.

Boomhower is happy to own a business in downtown Washougal, near others such as Amnesia Brewing, OurBar and LuLu’s Boutique.

“It’s growing,” he said. “It’s an exciting time in downtown Washougal.”

Boomhower recently met Wes Hickey, owner of Lone Wolf Investment and Lone Wolf Development, which owns the building that 3rd Heart is located in.

“He is a visionary,” Boomhower said, regarding Hickey.

Tattoos can be edgy, but they are more about art, Boomhower said.

Lindsay Stanton is an apprentice at 3rd Heart Tattoo.

“She is a great artist,” Boomhower said. “It takes raw natural ability as an artist before you can be taken on as an apprentice.”

3rd Heart Tattoo, 1830 Main St., is open Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 11 p.m. For more information, call 210-4878 or visit