Photo Essay

Seattle: Under the Needle

The Seattle Tattoo Expo puts a different kind of art on display.

By Alexandra Notman and Mary Pritchard August 17, 2010


In a city replete with art galleries, art fairs, and street artists willing to sketch a caricature or sell you an original painting, it shouldn’t be surprising that Seattle plays host to an event honoring a truly enduring art form: tattoos.

The annual Seattle Tattoo Expo sets up camp on the second weekend in August, and while this year the crowds at the Northwest Rooms of Seattle Center may have been a little sparse (we estimated a couple hundred on the Saturday evening we were there), those who did attend were only the most hardcore tattoo aficionados and dedicated tattoo artists.

What was once a subculture reigned supreme here; it was rare to see an arm not covered in a sleeve of tattoos, or a leg go by unmarked. And those who felt they needed a bit more art inked on their skin were in luck, over 100 different tattoo shops—from as far away as Copenhagen, as close as Capitol Hill—provided on-site tattooing at the expo.

Take a look at our slide show to see some of the colorful tattooed art we saw on display.

All photos by Alexandra Notman.

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