Meet tattoo artist Jeff Cornell, whose Fremont business is the host tattoo shop for the upcoming Seattle Tattoo Expo.
What do you do? I am a tattoo artist and owner of Hidden Hand Tattoo in Fremont. So basically, I make dreams come true for a living.
How did you get started in the field? In 1996, I was trying to be a rock star and needed a steady job with a flexible schedule. I was really tired of working in kitchens and painting houses, and the opportunity arose for a tattoo apprenticeship. So I apprenticed under my good friend Chad Hartgrave at a little shop in the University District called Atomic Garden.
Tattooing offered me the flexibility I desired, while also giving me an artistic outlet and ultimately, a robust and lucrative career. Who would have thought?
Coolest tattoo you’ve ever done? Well, I think that they are all cool — and the client should feel like theirs is the coolest, of course. I really enjoy working in a wide array of styles so I find it very difficult to pick a favorite, but I suppose if I had to pick one it would be my wife’s tiger back piece.
Do you ever have to decline a design? Sometimes, as the expert in the room, I have to make a hard call and say no to a design. I try not to judge people’s ideas, so this call is usually made based on my belief that the design won’t make a good tattoo. I would prefer to work with a client to turn the design into one that will make a great tattoo, but some people are a bit inflexible. If we run into an impasse, then what can I do? I don’t want to do a bad tattoo.
What can people expect if they attend the expo? The Seattle Tattoo Expo provides a unique opportunity for someone to watch and meet some of the best tattoo artists in Seattle, the U.S. and the world. There will be a couple hundred professional tattooers who have been specifically invited to attend this expo. Attendees will be able to view portfolios of these artists and watch them work. They will also have the opportunity to get a tattoo, if they wish.
There will also be art for sale, tattoo contests, food and beverages, vendors, entertainment and a lot of great people watching!
What’s the best part of the job? Definitely the best part of the job is making people feel better about themselves. It is so rewarding to help work someone through the transformation that can happen as a part of the tattoo experience. I get to help them overcome their fear of pain, of judgment and of their own limitations, and help them emerge transformed into a new person. Hopefully, someone they feel better about being.
What surprises people about what you do? I think what ends up surprising people the most about what I do is how friendly I am. Along with advancements in artistry, the industry has become a much more professional, welcoming and inviting place, and I am all for it. I encourage anyone who is curious to visit the Seattle Tattoo Expo or Hidden Hand Tattoo and find out how nice we can be!