There are many unfortunate tattoos — the Tazmanian Devil immediately comes to mind. Or Tweety Bird. Basically anything Looney Tunes. But we wouldn't call Ryan Goff's tat unfortunate. We'd call it devotion.
In 2009, Goff, the social media director at marketing agency MGH, was challenged by a client, Visit Baltimore, to get them 3,000 Twitter followers before two other cities reached that mark (a high Twitter following at the time). "Word spread ... followers poured in and before I knew it, I was permanently defacing my leg," said Goff, 27, who lives in Locust Point. The permanent defacement was the Twitter Fail Whale, hoisted by several Natty Boh heads. So before this weekend's Baltimore Tattoo Arts Convention (Friday-Sunday, Baltimore Convention Center), we decided to get in touch with Goff. Does he regret the tat? "Only when I have to look at it," he said. "Or answer multiple questions about it." Sorry Ryan, that's what we're here for.
I see you are not listed as the keynote speaker at the Baltimore Tattoo Arts Convention. Do you think your tat is too much for the crowd to handle? From what I hear, the organizers had a tough time thinking of an appropriate Twitter hashtag for my keynote speech. #RealMenDontGetInternetWhaleTattoos was already taken.
When showing your tattoo to people, do you ever make whale sounds? I truly believe that would be essential. I've actually taken that on as my mating call. So far, no takers, but I'm having a whale of a time trying!
It's been three years since you got the tat. In what ways did it help you grow as a person? After one too many spears to the leg, I've learned to completely avoid the Japanese whaling fleet.
Was there ever a temptation to get a tattoo friend for him? Say, Pinocchio, Jonah or Captain Ahab? I've tossed around the idea of tattooing a young Jason James Richter beneath the whale, à la the cinematic masterpiece, "Free Willy."
I'm assuming there's an exclusive club of people who get product-based tattoos. Which club member do you and your tattoo get along best with? The guy with the StarKist Tuna ink. We're tattoo cousins.
How have you been able to tell whether a girl likes you for you or just for your Fail Whale? At this point, I pretty much assume that they're all after the tattoo.
Your tattoo was a way to help promote Baltimore. But what has the city done for you these three years? For starters, they cleared out all of those trees for the Grand Prix. I had always thought to myself, "Know what this city has too much of? Trees." Dreams do come true.
On a scale from "Mom" to "a skull with flames," how intimidating has your tattoo been so far? Somewhere in between "ex-girlfriend's name written in cursive" and "unrecognizable Chinese word".