From hand-tapping to pricking with cactus needles, there are many methods for inserting pigment into the skin. Inventions like the electric tattoo machine allowed artists to expand tattoo design in new ways.
Tattoos are used to express beliefs, signal identity, enact rituals, and showcase art. Some indicate affiliation, while others set individuals apart. The reasons behind the use of this enduring form of body adornment continue to evolve across cultures and through time.
From scar tattoos in East Africa to chin stripes in the Arctic, tattooing has roots in cultures across the globe. In Tattoo, see how contemporary artists pay tribute to diverse traditions while experimenting with new symbols and art forms.
Artists in Europe, Asia, and North America began to exchange ideas at a rapid pace in the 19th century, fueled by faster travel around the globe. Tattooists continue to share techniques and styles to create the dynamic visuals we see in this now-mainstream art form.
Watch master artists in action as they tattoo clients in our working shop. Tattoo artists from around Chicago will work out of the in-exhibition tattoo shop on select dates between 11am and 4:30pm.
Demos are open to visitors who purchase passes to the Tattoo exhibition. All ages may enter the exhibition. However, on live tattooing days, guests 17 or younger must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to enter the tattoo shop.
The waiting list for tattoo appointments is now closed. But you can still see your favorite local artists in action as they do live demonstrations at the in-exhibition shop.
Please reach out to individual artists' shops to inquire about appointments outside of The Field Museum tattoo shop.
For those who have confirmed appointments, please review the tattoo shop guidelines and consent form. All tattoo shop customers must sign the consent form prior to getting a tattoo.
Tine grew up in the Chicagoland area before moving to Northern Indiana. After getting her first tattoo at 18, she thought it might be an interesting career path and in 2006 began an apprenticeship at Burning Image in Portage, Indiana. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Chicago and began working at Metamorph Studios. In the fall of 2010, she began working at Speakeasy Custom Tattoo, and she opened her own shop, Black Oak Tattoo, in 2015. She is continually inspired by the rapidly changing and growing art form of tattooing.
A multidisciplinary artist, Stephanie graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has worked closely with Peggy Macnamara, the artist-in-residence at The Field Museum. Using the Museum's natural history collections as a guide, she applies the fine line work of scientific illustrations to her tattoos and paintings. The flowing, organic lines in her drawings complement and accentuate the human form. Acknowledging the chasm between modern human experience and nature, the tattoos act as totems for the wearers to carry throughout their lives—and a reminder of our place in the natural world.
Lance started tattooing in 1991 in the San Francisco Bay Area. He's worked for and with tattooers such as Lyle Tuttle, Zeke Owens, Eddie Deutche, Jef Whitehead, and Chris Conn. While working across the street from Ed Hardy's Tattoo City, he learned from Freddie Corbin, Dan Higgs, Hardy, and Deutche, as well as visiting guest artists from all over the world. Lance moved to Chicago in 2009 and has guested and worked in a number of great shops throughout the Midwest and South. Taylor Street Tattoo in Chicago is his current home, but Lance still travels whenever possible.
Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Joel had an interest in tattooing from an early age. First getting tattooed at 15, he thought would only get a few tattoos, not that it would turn into a lifelong passion. He attended college at the University of Illinois and found himself hanging out at the local tattoo shop frequently. After making friends with owner of New Life Tattoos, Tattoo Tilt, he served an apprenticeship, learning traditional American and Japanese tattooing. He is presently at Chicago’s oldest-running tattoo shop, The Chicago Tattooing & Piercing Company.
Jennifer has been tattooing since May of 2000 but has been drawing since she was very young. She began painting and studying art history in high school and continued through college and graduate school. Jennifer's love of modern art has driven her to think conceptually about her tattoo work. She enjoys doing many styles but prefers American traditional and folk art-inspired tattoos. Aside from tattooing, she also enjoys working with watercolor and acrylic paint.
Zach started working in tattoo shops in 2003 and began an apprenticeship at Steve’s Tattoo in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2004. In early 2005, he began work as a solo tattoo artist under the guidance of Steve Gold, Mike Beganik, and Justin Duncan. After a year of tattooing at Steve’s, he made the trek to Kansas City to work at the now-closed Freaks on Broadway. After a full year there, he moved to Chicago and started working at Deluxe Tattoo in Lakeview, where he currently practices.