Our Team

The Center for Tattoo History and Culture team reaches across the globe and spans many different backgrounds: anthropology, archaeology, art history, history, library science, philosophy, popular culture studies, the tattoo industry, and more. We’re planning on adding more members to our team as the foundation development progresses. If you are passionate about rigorous tattoo research and educational outreach, and think you’d be a great compliment to our team, don’t hesitate to reach out: centerfortattoo@gmail.com. We are looking especially to add non-academic/non-traditional scholars to our team such as tattooers and tattoo collectors/enthusiasts with a passion for preserving history, documenting contemporary tattoo culture for purposes of archiving it, and exploring cultural issues in tattooing.

Once funded, the CFT will be looking to add a team of research assistants, a web development team, an accountant that specializes in not-for-profits, and other essential services. We’d prefer to hire people from within the tattoo community, so also reach out to us if you have technical skills that we can put to work.

Director:

Dr. Anna Felicity Friedman has been researching the history of tattooing for nearly 30 years when, as a punk-rock teenager, she wandered into the Peabody Essex Museum library and asked to look at old sailor’s journals and narratives. She has been collecting tattoos on her own body since 1990. She runs the popular blog Tattoo History Daily available across four social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter) and the companion website tattoohistorian.com which serves as a hub for tattoo-history information. Her PhD work at the University of Chicago focused on European and American tattooing between 1500 and 1900. She taught classes in body art and tattoo history and culture for a decade at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She writes about tattooing for a variety of magazines and media outlets and lectures regularly. Her newest book, World Atlas of Tattoo (Yale University Press), chronicles tattooing across six continents and was written with contributions from many of the CFT advisory board members as well as other global scholars. She also spent a large portion of her professional career working as a museum curator with extensive experience in database management, cataloging, publications management, and archival research. She’s currently volunteering her time to spearhead the CFT.

Advisory Board:

Our volunteer advisory board helps guide the mission of the CFT, get the word out about our project, bring onboard knowledge contributors, make connections with public and private collections that can contribute to our database project, as well as fulfilling all the duties of the knowledge contributors (see below for more information about them).

Aaron Deter-Wolf is a Prehistoric Archaeologist with the State of Tennessee and an Adjunct Professor at Middle Tennessee State University where he teaches an undergraduate course on the Anthropology of Tattooing. His work includes excavations and research on prehistoric sites throughout the Southeastern United States and ancient Maya sites in Belize and Guatemala. In 2009 Deter-Wolf organized the first-ever North American academic symposia on ancient tattooing and body modification for the annual meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference. He was the senior editor of the resulting scholarly volume, Drawing with Great Needles: Ancient Tattoo Traditions of North America, published in 2013. Deter-Wolf has also authored a variety of academic and publicly-accessible works on ancient tattooing as well as other archaeological topics. You can follow his research via his page on Academia.edu.

Amelia Klem Osterud is an independent historian and tattooed librarian in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who writes and speaks on circus, sideshow and tattoo history. She is the author of The Tattooed Lady: A History, a contributor to The World Atlas of Tattoo, an has written many articles on historical and cultural aspects of tattooing affecting women for Things & Ink and Z Tattoo Magazine.  She blogs occasionally at tattooedladyhistory.tumblr.com, usually about tattoo culture, interesting photographs, and rare books. Amelia holds master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in History and Library Science. When she is not writing, knitting or playing riding her bike long distances, she and her pocket watch-enthusiast husband can be found restoring old houses and taking care of their two off-kilter cats and their hedgehog. She is always planning her next tattoo.

Benoît Robitaille studied anthropology at the University of Montreal where he obtained his BS with a specialization in Mesoamerican archaeology before turning to the study of tattoo instruments under the tutelage of Paul Tolstoy. He currently balances organic vegetable farming in the summer with continued research in ethnological studies during the winter. He leads a parallel career in the field of visual arts, most recently in collaboration with artisans established in Japan.

Dr. Gemma Angel is an interdisciplinary scholar specialising in the history and anthropology of the European tattoo, post-mortem tattoo collecting and preservation practices, and medical museum collections of human remains. She completed her doctoral thesis at University College London in collaboration with the Science Museum in 2013, on a collection of 300 preserved tattooed human skins of nineteenth-century European origin. Gemma is currently a Society Fellow at Cornell University Society for the Humanities, working on the research theme Skin, for the academic year 2016-2017. Her research interests encompass the medical humanities, anthropology, STS, museums and visual culture, as well as the methodological intersection of ethnography and historiography. She has also previously trained as a tattooist. She blogs about her work at Life & 6 Months, contributes to Thanatocorpus, and is part of the skin-research group (sk)interlocutors.

Dr. Kimberly Baltzer-Jaray is a Canadian independent scholar whose areas of expertise include early phenomenology, existentialism, aesthetics and history of philosophy.  She is a lecturer at King’s University College (UWO), president of the North American Society for Early Phenomenology, associate editor of the Journal of Camus Studies, and a writer for Things & Ink and Tatuaz Cialo i Sztuka.  Her interests and publications on tattoos reflect her philosophical approach to life, art and the human pursuits of meaning and expression. She blogs at The Tattooed Philosopher.

Dr. Matt Lodder is a lecturer in contemporary art and theory and the Director of American Studies at the University of Essex. In 2010, he completed a doctoral thesis entitled ‘Body Art: Body Modification as Artistic Practice’, which sought to reconcile the common-place metaphors describing tattooing and similar practices as ‘body art’ with the lack of art-historical and art-theoretical attention afforded to them. Matt has published and lectured widely on the history of Western tattooing and has lent his expertise to the BBC, Sky, Channel 4 and the National Geographic Channel, and is a regular contributor to Total Tattoo magazine. He maintains an active and diverse Twitter feed. His work has appeared in or been reported on in newspapers, magazines and radio around the world, and he has given invited public lectures on three continents. He is currently writing a history of tattooing as an artistic practice in Britain from 1870 to present.

Morgan English is a New York-based archivist of contemporary tattoo art. She is Founder and Editor of Tattrx, a digital gallery that explores avant garde, experimental and under-represented voices in modern tattooing. She publishes a weekly tattoo column for Konbini, and serves as Tattoo Editor for Scene360 Magazine. After earning a BFA in Documentary Production from UCF, she actively fundraises, produces and runs PR campaigns for award-winning artists and nonfiction films. 

Nick Schonberger is a Portland-based tattoo historian and graduate of the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture at the University of Delaware. He is a contributing author of Forever: The New Tattoo (2012) and served as curatorial consultant on the exhibition Skin & Bones: Tattoos in the Life of the American Sailor at the Independence Seaport Museum in 2010.

Dr. Ole Wittmann studied art history at the University of Hamburg, has been a visiting lecturer there, and has worked for several renowned museums and foundations. His doctoral thesis is concerned with material specific aspects and the iconology of tattoos. He was involved in the conception of the exhibition Tattoo at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg and has contributed to tattoo magazines such as TätowierMagazin and Tattoo Kulture Magazine. Currently Wittmann is a postdoc scholarship holder of the Hamburg Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Culture (Hamburger Stiftung zur Förderung von Wissenschaft und Kultur) working on a research and exhibition project on the estate of the German tattooer Christian Warlich (1891–1964) in cooperation with the Foundation of Historic Museums Hamburg (Museum for Hamburgische Geschichte/Historische Museen Hamburg).

Sean Mallon is of Samoan and Irish descent. He is Senior Curator Pacific Cultures at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. He is the author or lead editor of several books including Tatau: Samoan tattoo, New Zealand art, global culture (2010) and Tangata o le Moana: the story of New Zealand and the people of the Pacific (2012). His exhibitions include Paperskin: the art of tapa cloth (2009); Tangata o le Moana (2007), Voyagers: discovering the Pacific and Tatau/Tattoo (2002).

Dr. Sebastien Galliot is a lecturer in the anthropology department of Aix-Marseille University and a research associate at CREDO (Centre for Research and Documentation on Oceania). Since 2001, he has conducted fieldworks in Samoa, Tonga, New-Zealand and Micronesia. in 2010, his doctoral thesis was dedicated to the history and ethnography of tattooing in Samoa. He is the author of Tatouages d’Océanie: Rites, techniques et images (2014) and was a scientific adviser for the Musée du quai Branly exhibitions The Floating Worlds of Paul Jacoulet in 2012 and Tattoo, Tattooed in 2015.

Tricia Allen is part-time faculty at the University of Hawai’i, Windward Community College. In addition, she is a tattoo artist with 25 years experience applying Polynesian style tattoos. As a tattooist, Allen is unique in that she has an extensive academic background. She completed her Master’s thesis at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in 1992 on the early practice of tattooing in the Marquesas Islands. Having completed her Masters degree in Anthropology, Allen began research in the Society islands focusing on the revival of the arts in the Pacific. Her work has taken her to Samoa, Aotearoa, New Caledonia, the Society Islands, the Marquesas and Rapa Nui, as well as New Caledonia. Allen has also published extensively. In addition to well over two dozen articles and academic papers, she has two books in print. Her first book, Tattoo Traditions of Hawai’i, won the Reader’s Choice award in the Hawai’i Book Publisher’s Association, and her second title, The Polynesian Tattoo Today, was even more successful winning two first place awards.

Partners (list coming soon!)

Our partners come from all areas of the tattoo community and fill many roles in the CFT: contributing images, texts, or discussion to the Knowledge Databases, writing articles, mentoring students, talking to journalists and others in the media, and generally helping to educate about tattoo history and culture.

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