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200 North Main St | Bloomington, Illinois | 309-827-0428

'Tattooing Finds You:' How Tattooists Navigate their World

Tuesday, May 10
Starts at 6:30 PM

McLean County Museum of History
200 N. Main St, Bloomington IL 61701

'Tattooing Finds You:' How Tattooists Navigate their World

On Tuesday, May 10 at 6:30 p.m., the Museum welcomes Dr. David C. Lane, assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences at Illinois State University, who will present the program ‘Tattooing Finds You:’ How Tattooists Navigate their World. This, free, public program will be held in the Governor Fifer Courtroom at the Museum.

Have you ever wondered how tattooists learn to do their jobs, how their careers advance, or what they contend with in order to create tattoos? Tattooists have to navigate the world of work. In this presentation, David C. Lane will take you on a journey about how the contemporary tattoo world operates. Using vivid firsthand accounts from tattooists, and an art worlds perspective, this program will discuss the how these workers pursue meaningful labor. This discussion will explain the methods of learning to work, the hierarchy among tattooists, the mechanisms for maintaining social control, and how tattooists manage changes that threaten their control. Underlying these descriptions is an emphasis on the collective social processes needed to make art worlds operate. Ultimately, and as Lane argues, tattooists have created and sustained an art world that relies on an anachronistic model of organizing labor. Join us and have some fun.

Lane holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Delaware. His monograph, The Other End of the Needle: Continuity and Change among Tattoo Workers was recently released by Rutgers University Press. His research articles on tattoo work appear in Deviant Behavior and the Sociology Compass. Lane also has a forthcoming original research chapter in the Handbook of Social Organization titled, ‘Resistance and Resilience among Tattoo Workers’. Broadly, Lane’s research focuses on tattoo work and culture as a social process, labor and the changes to cultural production in capitalist systems, crime in relation to natural hazards, art theft, and constructionist approaches to social problems. He also serves as the Chair of the Body Art and Images area of the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association. Lane’s research expertise has also been featured on “Inking of Immunity” podcast, Telemundo’s Radar 2021, Bloomberg Made, The Pantagraph, and WGLT.

Currently, Lane is researching the relationship between acquiring a tattoo in relation to experiences of trauma. For more information about this study, or if you are interested in being a participant go to

PLEASE NOTE: Capacity for this event is limited to 80 people. Face masks are recommended but not required to attend this program.

Questions? Or for more information, please contact the Education Department at or (309) 827-0428.