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Ex-Mayor, Bonita and ULV Grad Runs Tattoo Studio; Couldn’t Resist Inking One More Big Deal

September 23, 2009
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From mayor to purveyor of Ink'd Chronicles.

From mayor to purveyor of Ink'd Chronicles.

The slogan on the west wall at Ink’d Chronicles, a tattoo and piercing studio located in the Pomona Arts Colony, says “Every tattoo has a story.” Its owner’s story would certainly qualify.

Terry Dipple grew up in La Verne and graduated from Bonita High School in 1971. He also went on to graduate from the University of La Verne in 1977 and its law school in 1983. At just 23, he was a member of the San Dimas City Council, serving three terms from 1976 to 1988. In 1988, he was elected mayor and served until 1996. During that long 22-year political run, he was tattoo-free.

Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject

“If somebody had told me 10 years ago that I would live in downtown Pomona and own a tattoo studio, I would have thought they were crazy,” said Dipple, now 56.

Then, about seven years ago, he moved his real estate development business office to Pomona, where his company was building some projects. He moved into a loft space, thinking it was temporary, but the more he got to know his Art Colony neighbors, the more he realized he had found a new home.

“When I moved down here, my kids would come and hang out,” Dipple said. “They would go to the Glass House concert venue. Having been an artist as a hobbyist all my life — painting and just kind of fun stuff — I really enjoyed the vibe in the neighborhood and participating in the art walks.”

In 2006, he began thinking seriously about launching a venture that would further tie him to the Art Colony.

The ex-mayor is putting his heart, soul and right leg into defeating cancer.

The ex-mayor is putting his heart, soul and right leg into defeating cancer.

“I came up with the idea to do a tattoo studio and art gallery,” Dipple recalled. “Life sometimes takes you on a journey, and sometimes you don’t when you’re going to turn right or turn left.”

At the time, tattoo parlors were banned in the district.

“It was understandable,” Dipple admitted. “The council had kind of an old-school attitude about tattoos. They said it was bikers and gang members and all that stuff — and it was not.”

Eventually, Dipple persuaded the planning commissioners and city council members that his establishment wouldn’t be your typical tattoo parlor. Rather his place would be an artistic salon/gallery and an asset that would contribute to the whole downtown renaissance, a hub now that now includes the Fox Theater, Glass House, Saffron Catering and some 30 art galleries.

Now in its third year, Ink’d Chronicles is thriving with as many as six tattoo artists working on the busiest days. Dipple still consults for cities on redevelopment projects, which is still “a lot of fun for me,” but he has clearly found a home in the colony. Astute politically, he understands the story angle of an ex-mayor getting into the tattoo business versus, say, the insurance business. “I understand it’s a leap, but it’s been a fun leap,” Dipple said.

Showing his appreciation of  how a city, business community and its residents must all work together, as well as the importance of giving back, Dipple last year launched the 1st Annual Tattoos for the Cure, a noon-to-midnight celebration of art, music and charity. The event was so successful, Tattoo Two, the sequel, will be held Oct. 10. Again artists at Ink’d Chronicles will be tattooing pink breast cancer awareness ribbons and other designs as requested and doing piercings, with all of the proceeds benefiting the Breast Health Program at the Robert and Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center.

Behind every tattoo there's a story, and Ink'd Chronicles has lots of them.

Behind every tattoo there's a story, and Ink'd Chronicles has lots of them.

The minimum tax-deductible donation is $80, depending on the size and detail of the tattoo and piercings for $35. Last year’s even raised $4,000 for the cancer care center.

Dipple now has several tattoos, each celebrating an important life or bonding event. To show his love and support for his fiancé, who last year was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated at the Robert and Beverly Lewis Family Cancer Care Center, Dipple got a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon tattoo, as did his daughter, Tess, age 20, who works at Ink’d Chronicles as a piercer.

“I was inspired by the treatment she received at the Lewis Family Cancer Care Center at Pomona Valley Hospital to do something to give back,” Dipple said. His tattoo and piercing artists all supported the idea.

“It was one of the most moving things I’ve ever done,” Dipple said. “It was such a great event. I wanted to do it again. I just didn’t want it to be one year and done. What was interesting, when we did the event last year, we had ladies in their 60s and 70s that were getting their first tattoo, and they were all excited about it because it meant something really special to them.”

This year promises to be even bigger and more rewarding. Dipple is bringing in more artists. In addition, there will be an art show featuring tattoo-inspired art, raffles, prizes and live music from 7:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. There will be a VIP party for all participants. There is no charge for the art show and music.

For more information, call Dipple at (909) 622-5351 or visit terry@inkdchronicles.com. Walk-in hours are noon to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday and noon to 11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. 264 W. 2nd St. Pomona Arts Colony.

*So long connected to the cities of La Verne and San Dimas, Dipple has now become a great fan and cheerleader for Pomona. Perhaps, politics could come calling again? “I love being a businessperson and being part of the downtown art and business community. I did my time, and I still like to donate my time to events like Tattoos for the Cure, but not anything beyond that,” Dipple said.

In the Art Colony, Dipple recommends Alladin Jr. for great Mediterranean foot, Pho Vi for delicious Vietnamese food, and Joey’s Barbecue, which always win “best barbecue.” There’s just a lot of things to do and places to eat here,” he said. “You really can make a night of it.

“When you come here, the spaces are unique, the shops are unique, the restaurants are unique. It just has an edgy vibe that you don’t find anywhere else. It’s not vanilla.”

Like Dipple and Ink’d Chronicles, the Art Colony community has a story to tell.

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