I don’t have any tattoos, but when I started watching NY Ink I was hooked. I have a few friends that have tattoos, but I have never had the nerve to get one. Not sure what I would get… maybe Tiger’s logo or something. Tiger actually has two logos now, so I would need one on each arm. Anyway, I started watching NY Ink, and fell in love with the cast. The show is on TLC and there is actually another show called Miami Ink where it all got started. Ami James is the man behind the curtain in all of this, and plays a key role in the development of his shop. The tattoo shop in NYC is called the Wooster Street Social Club. I recently sat down with Ami. This guy has a lot of tattoos… but they all mean something. If you haven’t seen the show, I highly recommend it. Like I said, you don’t need tattoos to appreciate the program. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to the man himself, Ami James.
You have been tattooing for a long time. When did you know you wanted to make a career out of this?
I started tattooing 20 years ago and I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life my very first tattoo I did.
Where are you originally from?
I am originally from Israel.
So we have Miami Ink. We have LA Ink. We have NY Ink. Out of all the places you have done this, can you pick a favorite? I love NY… but LA is nice too. (I hate Miami. I have only been there once, and it rained the entire time we were there!)
I love New York in the summer and Miami in the winter.
Your show has had a ton of success. How did that all get started? Did you approach TLC or did they approach you?
A production company approached me and they pitched it to TLC.
Tell me a little bit more about your battles with ADD.
This interview, I struggle with it everyday
You were a sniper with the Israel Defense Force. You did that in your teens. That had to be a rush. Did you ever shoot anyone?
The only thing I shoot for these days are my goals.
When did you get your first tattoo?
I was thirteen and it was a Miami Punks tattoo.
Tell me a little bit more about your affiliation with Love Hate Choppers Jewelry.
Jewelry is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but at the end it did not feel like it was the right interpretation of me. But that doesn’t mean I am done with that venture.
I love the show… but a lot of people think it’s more about the drama in the shop than the actual tattoos. That’s why I like it! Is there really that much drama, or is it sort of forced for TV?
I would love to make a show without drama, but while doing TV that is not always an option.
Your shop in NYC is called the Wooster Street Social Club. What’s with the name?
The shop was built with 3 main components in mind: 1 being tattoos, then a gallery, and last an event space. Hence the name; what more suitable name would you have? After all, it is on Wooster Street…
Well there you have it. The name makes total sense! So, do you market the shop, or just rely on the show and referrals?
I market the shop like I market all my businesses. I press, write-ups, appearances, social media and great interviews, like this.
Have you ever messed up a tattoo?
Doing it as we speak. Just kidding, I always strive for 100%, even if that is not always attainable.
What’s the weirdest tattoo request you have ever received?
A Herman sleeve… don’t ask me what Herman means and no, I did not do it!
Let’s say I wanted a tattoo. What do they cost? How do you even begin to pick a price point?
Pricing varies by size, color, detail and location.
Are there any restrictions to the colors you can use?
No, we do not limit ourselves, but I also would not say we specialize in glow in the dark tattoos.
Tell me more about the basement… you like to fight it looks like!
I like to train.
Megan has a ton of talent. She is young, and pretty much working with the best. Where can she go from here?
Far if she stays humble.
I am sure they hurt… but can you explain what getting a tattoo feels like?
I would say most people would describe the pain as more of discomfort then painful. But do not kid yourself; tattoos are no foot massage.
You guys are all over Facebook and Twitter. Who runs those accounts for you?
Tila Tequila recently stopped by the shop. I bet you get a lot of celebrities. Do you handle celebrity tattoos any different, or are they treated like every other customer?
I treat them like every other customer.
What’s next for you… any more shops in the works?
I do not plan on opening more shops at this point… you never know what the future will bring.
The tattoo culture seems to have a bad rap… fighting and gangs, and what not. But based on what I see on the show it’s not like that at all. In your own words, can you explain the tattoo scene?
It used to be an under ground art scene with quality tattooist, inevitably it made it to the main stream.
Do you listen to music while you work?
Tell me a little bit more about Ami James Clothing.
Ami James Ink Clothing is another form of art for me. It is a just another medium but for the fashion industry. And it is another way for me to advance and express art.
Did you ever think you would become famous… most tattoo artists probably don’t think about that.
No I didn’t, but I think all tattooists strive to become famous for what they do. Give or take a few.
Your customers tell a lot of stories. What’s the most powerful story you have ever been told while tattooing?
I have been doing this for s many years; I have heard so many stories. The stories that come to mind first were so difficult to hear, I’m not even comfortable repeating them.
Ami, I could ask you questions all day. Thank you so much for taking the time. I know you are a busy guy. In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Go.
You an always keep up with what I do and any new projects I have through my social media.