Speaking - On Empathy


When speaking, David uses his career in tattooing as a baseline for stories. From struggling as an artist, to mastering a craft, his journey has always included people. A "client" to one, is a "patient" to another. Learning how to gather a story and understand a context enables us to see everyone as individuals: as people that matter. 

This affects our process—our art, designs, products, writing, diagnosis, research and communication.

We've found his talks to bring humanity into the medical field, a reminder of purpose into universities, and self-reflection into the arts.

To inquire about David speaking, please use this speaking form.

Speaking Samples

Speaking / Lectures / Panels

2018 - Lecture, “On Empathy”, Chicago Medical School - Rosalind Franklin University, North Chicago, IL

2018 - Speaker, “Healing and Postmastectomy Tattoos”, Living Well Cancer Resource Center - Northwestern, Geneva, IL

2018 - Keynote, “Moving the Needle on Recovery from Breast Cancer”, Paris Breast Rendezvous, Paris, France

2018 - Lecture, “Moving the Needle on Recovery from Breast Cancer”, Allina Health, Minneapolis, MN

2017 - Event/Keynote, “Invisible Marks”, Airbnb Corporate, San Francisco, CA

2017 - Event/Keynote, “On Permanence”, Airbnb Design Dinner, Chicago, IL

2016 - Panel, “The Walking Art Collection: How Tattoos Tell Stories of Identity.” (with Alaka Wali and Chris Brown), DPLA Fest, Chicago, IL

2016 - Lecture, “Expanded Practice: David Allen’s Post-Mastectomy Tattoos & Oil Painting”, Hyde Park Art Center

2016 - Lecture, “Communicating with Empathy”, Patient-worthy Medicine: The Art and Science of Evidence Based Practice, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

2016 - Speaker, “When Clients Bare All”, FITC - Toronto, Chicago, IL

2015 - Speaker, “Walking the Tightrope: Between Client Needs and Artistic Integrity”, FITC - Chicago, Chicago, IL

2015 - Lecture, “Tattoo Design with Apple Devices”, Apple Store, Chicago, IL

2015 - Interview, “Notre Talk 02 with David Allen”, Notre, Chicago, IL

2015 - Interview, “With David Allen”, Story Gathering, Chicago, IL

2014 - Lecture/ Presentation, “Translating What a Client Wants Into a Final Product”, State Farm Insurance, Bloomington, IL

Documentary Panels

2018 - Panel, “Grace”, NorthShore University HealthSystem @ Chicago Botanic Garden - Chicago, IL

2018 - Panel, “Grace”, Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation @ Google Chicago - Chicago, IL

2018 - Panel, “GRACE: How Film Impacts Healthcare, A Case Study”, Northwestern’s Center for Bioethics & Medical Humanities - Chicago, IL

2018 - Panel, “Grace (Chicago Premiere and Reception)”, Landmark Century Centre Cinema - Chicago, IL

2018 - Panel, “Grace”, Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern University - Chicago, IL

2018 - Panel circuit, “Grace: a documentary”, National documentary screenings at both theaters and medical institutions.