Interview of Ami James
I’ve met Ami James on Saturday, at the London Tattoo Convention, after lunch. If I’m specifying the time of our meeting, it is to ensure that when he was using the word ‘hungry’ it was to express his great curiosity and open-mind rather than a real hunger... After few minutes, you realize that you’re talking with a positive person, with a rare intelligence, humility and even philosophy of life.
The artist, famous for Miami and NY Ink and one of the master-mind behind our website Tattoodo, seems relaxed, enjoying to be here and with his sense of humor intact. The criticisms I’ve read on internet come back to my mind, and being here, sitting next to him, make them quite groundless. Yes, Ami James is a superstar. The evidence being the crowd behind me, taking photos and asking for autographs. But perhaps that’s also a man who want to use his celebrity to change things, especially with Tattoodo. He reveals me his dream to improve the quality of tattoo art, both for customers and other artists, with this project and I feel he is honest about it.
As for him, as a tattoo artist, he is really far from retirement… Stopping tongues wagging, Ami expresses his will to outdo himself artistically, as his recent productions are illustrating it.
Time for an open-heart interview.
What are the side effects of your celebrity since Miami Ink ? Life changes when you do TV. You don’t have private life anymore, you’re constantly under the eyes of the world, everything you do is scrutinized. Everybody suddenly knows you ! So you have to be careful about what you choose to do. In a way, it really helps me, for my business. I was able to earn my living and to help my friends earn their living too, which is great. It changed my life for the best … but I had to say goodbye to my privacy.
How is it to be watched and sometimes judged by millions of people everytime you are doing your work and living your own life ?
(Very seriously) It sucks. (Then, he bursts into laughter) There are diffent scales, it can be good or bad. No, I’m alright with it. Everybody has an opinion, even a really bad one. I just don’t pay too much attention to that. I am focusing on my life and the people that counts for me. That’s the way it is.
You are a creative mind : tattoos, paintings, clothes, jewels… What is the project that keeps you busy right now ?
Right now, I want to focus on Tattoodo, this my number 1 project. I founded Tattoodo with 2 amazing friends to bring a change in the world of tattoo. With it, I want to open the doors to other artists, give them the chance I got, help them to live of their art. I work on it everyday, the rest of my time, I spend it on my hobbies.
You have experimented different styles of tattoos : what style(s) would you like to try for the pleasure of challenge ?
I think I will do more and more portraits, especially in black and grey. It’s not something I often do, but I enjoy the challenge, to be pushed out of my box, you know… I would be really proud to achieve photo realism. I’m not confortable with it yet, but it’s pushing me forward. I’m hungry to get better everyday and hope I will do tattoos good enough to be happy with them.
You are travelling a lot : what are the places that have taught you the better lessons of life and art ?
I pick up a little bit of every place I’ve been. Travelling is always learning something. Either you are going to Japan, or here, in London, you happen to learn different styles. In London now, it is the neo traditional stuff. There are trends, alwas changing, every year. I’m like a sponge, I’m soaking up with them. You don’t need to go to specific places, if you are starving for tattoo, you will naturally be growing, evolving. I’m doing this. I’m constantly hungry for more knowledge…
Tell me how do you think Tattoodo could help someone get a better tattoo ?
There are two great things with Tattoodo. First, it helps the customer to find a better, more personal, artwork than the one is going to find on Google. We created Tattoodo for that purpose : to open the doors to better art. We help people to come up with the perfect design for them. It’s a game-changer ! The second thing is the way we are opening the possibilities to the artists who are not always making a great living with their local business. Now, they can work globally and sell their art through Tattoodo. No more starving artists, we want to change that, really.
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What could you tell to someone who doesn’t have a tattoo yet ?
Go to Tattoodo and get a good one !
Interview and photos by JenTheRipper. Tattoos by Ami James.