THREADLESS INTERVIEWS TATTOODO CO-FOUNDER, AMI JAMES!
Over here at Threadless, we’re all about the ink! Lots of our employees sport super sweet tattoos, and we love learning more about the art form. We’ve always been intrigued by Tattoodo - a site that enlists talented tattoo artists from around the globe to create customized designs for its users - and asked them to partner with us for our recent Tattoo challenge. They took us up on the offer, and we saw it as a great opportunity to see what Tattoodo is truly all about! Read on to catch an interview with Tattoodo’s very cool and super talented co-founder Ami James, a tattoo artist himself. And hey, if you’re a fellow ink fan, don’t forget to score our Tattoo challenge submissions… tattoos are equally as cool in tee form, we promise!
How did you become interested in tattoos?
I’ve been drawing tattoo imagery since I was 13. It started out in during the ‘80s punk movement which was a huge part of it. When I started drawing designs for some local punk bands and making stickers, that’s when I saw a glimpse of my future as a tattoo artist.
Tattoodo’s founder Ami James hard at work designing tattoos.
What steps did you take to turn tattoo art into a career?
I was 18 when I drew my first tattoo on myself, and was sold on the creativity and permanence of the art form. I waited two years to get out of the army before making my move to pursue an apprenticeship in a reputable shop in Miami. And then, I paid my dues.
Why do you believe tattoos are such a powerful form of self-expression?
They’re a permanent statement on your personal views and style. Unfortunately, most of the younger generation follow fashion and not their own style and thoughts. That’s why we created Tattoodo. So you can find your own voice.
Ami stands over a series of tattoo designs.
What’s your own favorite tattoo and why?
My favorite tattoo is always my next one. :)
What inspired Tattoodo?
Joe, our CEO, really wanted a tattoo, but had no clue what he wanted. He googled for months but felt very insecure about motives and artist skills. He worked with Mik, our chairman, and suggested that the they should build a 99designs-based idea for tattoos. They contacted me and I immediately knew they meant business. I jumped on a plane to Denmark, and five days later we had the business plan ready. It was very spontaneous and very rock ‘n’ roll. These guys are super skilled; within two weeks, we had an all star team of investors on board, and started development. It went really fast, and was super fun.
Check out the story behind Tattoodo.
How exactly does Tattoodo work?
It’s a platform where you can get a tattoo design. A lot of people have ideas for their next tattoo, but very few have the actual design. We built a platform where you can create a competition, put $100, $200, or $300 in escrow, and start getting personalized designs from our 3,000 artists worldwide. The designs depend on how good your design brief is, and how active you are on giving feedback to the artists. But as you can see on Trustpilot, people are generally really happy with the result. We also have a section called Design Store where you can buy designs from some of the best artists on the planet. You can takes these designs to your local tattoo artist, or receive them as a print or iphone cover, etc.
Watch Ami explain how Tattoodo works!
What type of opportunity do you see Tattoodo offering to both tattoo artists and those seeking tattoos?
That’s easy. Designers can make money drawing tattoos. All these people are really creative, but normally you need to work in a shop to be able to design tattoos. Now you can do it from home. You get to compete with the best, become better, grow your portfolio, and make money if you’re good enough. The customers get to set up a giant brainstorm with the top people doing their best to design, inspire, and even surprise them. Sometimes they come up with designs that are much cooler than the customer could even imagine.
When deciding to go custom, it looks like a member can sign up for one of three tiers: Gold, Silver or Bronze. How do they differ, and how should a member go about choosing the right package for them?
It is basically a matter of attracting the best artists; some of the skilled ones only participate in silver or gold contests. Or, it’s a matter of type of tattoo: for example, designers spend so much time on full sleeves that they don’t normally participate in bronze contests. Obviously, you also get more entries in a gold contest. However, bronze contests are perfect for small pieces.
The talented team behind Tattoodo.
What advice do you have for a member launching a contest to get the best tattoo they can imagine?
Work on your brief. Be as specific as possible, and short and precise. Give feedback often. We had one guy who said he wanted “a really cool tattoo on his back”. That wasn’t the best brief in the world. :)
What does Tattoodo look for in artists who apply to design tattoos?
They need to be creative, and have some idea about what works. Designing tattoos is not like designing a website or painting a picture. You need to have a clear black outline, and not a chaos of details. For many people it’s a learning process, but we try to guide our artists as well as we can.
Ami shares his advice on what artists should remember when designing tattoos.
If you’re browsing through designs created for other contests and spot one you like, is it possible to commission that design for yourself?
No, because the customer owns the design. That is the whole idea about getting a personal design. If you are looking for a ready-made design, you should browse our Design Store where we sell finished designs from the best artists in the world.
How are designs chosen to be featured in the Design Store?
These designs comes from all our partners around the world. We spent a year tracking down the best artists on the planet, and got permission to sell their designs. These guys are incredible and it makes me proud that we can work with them. We add more artists all the time, as we get their latests designs.
Browse tattoo designs, art prints, iPhone cases and more at Tattoodo’s Design Store.
Once a member selects a tattoo design or creates a custom design at Tattoodo, what should they keep in mind when seeking out the ideal tattoo parlor?
Right now we help people finding the right shop based on their location and design. But we have plans of launching a really cool guide to shops all over the world, which is one of the many cool features we are planning to launch in the not so distant future.
In what ways is Tattoodo changing the face of tattoo art?
It’s always dangerous to claim that you’re changing an entire industry or culture, but at least we can provide a platform where you know you can find high quality tattoo designs. Most people looking for a design go on Google images and get millions of poor designs of the same motive, whereas ours are all top quality. Apart from that, you will soon be able to follow your favorite artists, take part in debates, and get inspiration from friends and strangers. With 150 million tattoo-related searches a month, it’s about time that we get a social platform where we can allow ourselves to be nerdy about that one thing we all love.
What do you believe are the elements that make up every great tattoo?
Hahaha, if only I knew. I think that tattoos are extremely individual. That’s why they continue to be interesting. The trends are always changing; even an old stubborn guy like me never ceases to be surprised and amazed. I guess that is why it is an art form.