Embodying Ritual: The Art of the Tattoo - Atlas Obscura
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Seattle, Washington

Embodying Ritual: The Art of the Tattoo

Go beyond the surface and stereotype of tattoos to explore the history and artistry behind this contemporary practice.

Once regarded as a subversive form of expression associated with infamy, criminality, and circus attraction, over the past 50 years, tattoo has evolved into a popular art form that has gained mainstream acceptance from curators and museums around the world. Exhibitions at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Honolulu Museum of Art, and Musee du Quai Branley have helped to popularize the history and artistry of tattoo, elevating an often-misunderstood art form into a contemporary aesthetic practice.

In this 1.5-hour program, we’ll visit with Jeff Cornell of Hidden Hand Tattoo in Fremont. Jeff will talk about his experience as a tattoo artist and a shop owner and shed some light on his story as first a collector of tattoos, into his apprenticeship and career as a tattoo artist. Drawing from his 23 years of tattooing, Jeff will lead us on a journey through the complex intersection of self-indulged body adornment and sacred rite of passage that is the modern world of tattooing.

We’ll be educated with some deep history of ancient tattoo practices, a basic timeline of how tattooing has evolved to what we know it to be today and some insight into what it may lead to in the future. We will look at the tools, the trade and some of the colorful and almost mythical characters that have helped shape the enigmatic and mysterious world of tattooing.

Jeff Cornell is a Seattle-based tattoo artist, owner and lead tattooer at Hidden Hand Tattoo, a husband and father and an accomplished and active musician. 


  • Some seating accommodations will be available, but be prepared to stand for an hour and a half.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.


Email Shin Yu Pai at shinyu.pai@atlasobscura.com.

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Advance ticket sales only. All ticket sales are final. No refunds or exchanges.