Invisible Marks

Airbnb Design—Talks featuring Tattoo Artist David Allen

Unless you’re into lasers, tattoos last forever. People get them for all kinds of reasons—to mark memories or to honor loved ones, sometimes to heal. And while the finished product is oftentimes the most discussed, the intent and process behind the work rarely make the conversational cut. Anyone who’s been tattooed can repeat the question they hear most often. “What does it mean?” Less frequent though are questions about the artist, or how they worked with them—something Chicago based Tattoo Artist David Allen knows to his core. Tattooing is a meticulous craft. It’s an odd juxtaposition because while the artwork is permanent, an artist may never see their work (or the person it lives on) again. Knowing this, artists must make the process their own and collaborate closely with their living canvases.

David’s work is guided by client partnership—he sees himself as a conduit for their deeply personal stories. He’s helped a couple process a miscarriage through pieces that highlight happier times, and has since gained notoriety for his exquisite work covering mastectomy scars. His worked has been featured in the Chicago TribuneNPR, and The Verge.

His intimate talk shed light on the meaning behind his work, how he educates and collaborates with clients, and the unintended marks we leave on our communities through the creative process.

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