The Fremocentrist.com Art Inventory

Fremont’s Hidden Hand Hosts Seattle Tattoo Expo

by Kirby Lindsay Laney, posted 16 August 2017

 

Original poster art by Jeff Cornell

Original poster art by Jeff Cornell

Over the weekend of August 18th – 20th, Fremont’s Hidden Hand will be hosting the 16th Annual Seattle Tattoo Expo at Seattle Center.  As the Host Shop, Hidden Hand coordinated the 200 tattoo artists attending this invite-only exposition, taking seriously the challenge of finding and welcoming the very best artists from around the world.  For attendees of the Tattoo Expo, Hidden Hand wants this to be a big experience, for sharing among those in the industry, and for demonstrating to the general public the tradition, skill and talent needed for good ink.

‘The Best Show It Can Be’

Jeff Cornell co-owns Hidden Hand with his wife, April Cornell.  They took over as Host Shop of the Tattoo Expo three years ago, and they are determined to bring the greatest talent and skill together there.  When the Expo began, Cornell explained, the gathering brought together members of the industry, allowing the tattooists to talk to tattooists, and to share methods, tips and their culture.

“I don’t see it being different than it’s ever been,” Cornell said of the Expo, which still collects together artists who may practice vastly different styles and use different methods and approaches to their craft.  Yet, Cornell did note a change in general attitudes towards tattoos; one that has evolved in the years since the Seattle Expo began.  “Sixteen years ago, when I went to the grocery store, families used to shuffle away,” he observed, “now I’ve got to kiss babies and talk about my tattoos.  I have to be an ambassador.”

Jeff Cornell in his tattoo parlor, Hidden Hand, in Fremont.  Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Aug '17

Jeff Cornell in his tattoo parlor, Hidden Hand, in Fremont. Photo by K. Lindsay Laney, Aug ’17

Cornell never asked for approval of his ink, but he welcomes the challenge of raising the caliber of the Tattoo Expo.  “We get the best artists from as far away as we can,” he said, “I want it to be the best show it can be.”  He wants to raise public interest in the Seattle Tattoo Expo, not only locally but as a destination event that draws people here.  “Our city is world class,” Cornell said, and he’s committed to the Tattoo Expo, “We’re going to make it first class.”

“If I get all the best tattooers,” to attend the Expo, Cornell explained, “it gets the public excited.”  While the Expo hasn’t changed, the audience has expanded with more of the general public interested in attending.  “We get more and more people that think that because they’ve seen a few reality shows,” they know about tattoos, Cornell said, although some forget that television is about drama.  For Cornell, tattoos are about history, self-awareness, and art.  At the Seattle Tattoo Expo, the public get to meet artists including Shawn Barber, Damon Conklin, and Big Gus (see a complete list on-line,) learn about the traditions from world-famous historian Lyle Tuttle, and see the reality without the fabricated drama.

Revealing Your Inner Self

The Seattle Tattoo Expo gives everyone a chance to see body art in action.  Photo by Kenn Penn, 2016

The Seattle Tattoo Expo gives everyone a chance to see body art in action. Photo by Kenn Penn, 2016

“I personally do not try to talk anyone into getting a tattoo,” Cornell said, “They have to want it.  It is permanent.”  He quoted an old saying in the industry:  ‘The only difference between a tattooed person and a person who isn’t tattooed is that a tattooed person doesn’t care if you’re tattooed or not.’

“I’m not a side show tattooer,” Cornell explained.  “I want to do cool tattoos, to empower my clients and put symbols on them outwardly that reflect their inward selves.”  He wants to help people reveal their best selves, and at Hidden Hand he has created a place safe and welcoming for clients to be able, through the artists that work there, to share more of their inner self.

“We work very closely with people,” Cornell explained about his tattoo parlor.  “People want to get good tattoos, and get good advice, in a good environment,” he said, and he’s proud of his team of artists, “for as much credit as I can take, we hire good ones.  Any tattoo shop is only as good as the people that work there.”

For Cornell, getting a tattoo takes time and being close to his clients, and being able to listen and share is the most important part of the job.  “We don’t need to compromise any ethics, or be an asshole,” Cornell said.  “People can go to any number of shops to make them feel stupid.  We want people to feel they’ve made the right decision,” he observed, “if that means they end up not getting a tattoo, that’s okay.”

An example of body art by Jeff Cornell - see more on the HiddenHandTattoo.com website

An example of mini portrait bracelets by Jeff Cornell – see more on the HiddenHandTattoo.com website

“You should have to earn this,” Cornell said, gesturing to his exquisite sleeve tattoos.  “So many people would never have walked in,” to a place like Hidden Hand, a decade ago, Cornell observed, “now they can do their research,” on-line, and decide where to go and what they want long before they see the tattoo parlor.

After 10 Years

On July 1st, Hidden Hand celebrated its 10th Anniversary.  The longest operating tattoo parlor in Fremont, Hidden Hand holds a strong reputation as a place for award-winning art and a warm, inviting community.

This year, in addition to marking its anniversary, Hidden Hand launched a second location, called Altar, located in the Roosevelt district.  April Cornell has opened this new shop as a healing place where she can not only practice her tattoo art but also provide Reiki and meditation – a new, potentially transformative direction, not possible in the established space in Fremont.

The Seattle Tattoo Expo gathers together artists from around the world to share their art.  Photo by Kenn Penn, 2016

The Seattle Tattoo Expo gathers together artists from around the world to share their art. Photo by Kenn Penn, 2016

“It’s been quite an adjustment,” Cornell acknowledged, “not working together.”  Of course, the couple didn’t start off working together.  “Before this, I was tattooing and she was a hair stylist,” he explained.  When they decided to open a shop, they chose the Center of the Universe in part because “there were no tattoo parlors in Fremont.”

According to Jeff Cornell, April always worked with him but only after the birth of their second child did she come on full-time as a tattoo artist at Hidden Hand.  Together they created this destination business in the basement of the former hardware store.  Cornell explained how they’ve been careful about growing the business, but he also acknowledged the improvements that came a few years back with the change of landlord.  Gibraltar spruced up the building from what it was, put in Hotel/Hotel, and filled the rest of the retail with vibrant businesses that strengthen his own.

Beyond The Ink

Dream Catcher tattoo by Jeff Cornell - see more art by Cornell on the HiddenHandTattoo.com website

Dream Catcher tattoo by Jeff Cornell – see more art by Cornell on the HiddenHandTattoo.com website

Over the weekend of the Seattle Tattoo Expo both Jeff and April Cornell will attending the festivities, lending their own artistry to the ink, but Hidden Hand will also remain open, serving clients and providing access for the weekend walk-in clients that otherwise wouldn’t get seen.

For those interested in taking a closer look at the Seattle Tattoo Expo, there is a lot to tempt you beyond the ink.  Check out the seminars, workshops, live music, shopping and burlesque performances.  Plenty of great food will be available, too, along with a beer garden for those 21+.

Cornell also highlighted the contests, which take place each day of the Tattoo Expo, for an array of categories such as:  ‘Best Portrait’, ‘Worst Tattoo’, ‘Best Small Color’, ‘Best Black & Grey’, ‘Traditional,’ ‘Best Sleeve’, and each day’s ‘Best of Show’.  Judged by professional peers, Cornell sees the contests as a great opportunity for the artists as well as clients who get to see what is out there, and what is being done.

Purchase tickets for the Seattle Tattoo Expo, at the Seattle Center Fisher Pavillion, through the official website (click here.)  Tickets cost $20 for a day pass, or $50 for the entire weekend – with a full schedule of each day’s events available on the Tattoo Expo website.

Take a closer look, and have a good time, at the Seattle Tattoo Expo!  Photo by Kenn Penn, 2016

Take a closer look, and have a good time, at the Seattle Tattoo Expo! Photo by Kenn Penn, 2016

To find out more about Hidden Hand, and its artists, visit the Hidden Hand website – or stop by the shop, located in the Fremont Mini Mall behind etg, to get good advice about your next tattoo.

 

 

 

 

 


Related Articles


 

©2017 Kirby Laney.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.

www.fremocentrist.com



 


Fremont Festivus Banner
Fremocentrist Logo Sm Home Contact Fremocentrist | Website:Cougar Mountain Productions | ©2017 The Fremocentrist