Ami James of Love Hate Tattoo Studios & Wooster Street Social Club
This weeks Artist Spotlight is on Ami James of Love Hate Tattoo Studios in Miami and Wooster Street Social Club in NYC. Ami has been in the tattoo scene since the early 90’s and broke the barrier of taboo by launching Miami Ink on TLC in 2005. Miami Ink was one of the first tattoo shows (besides Inked on A&E which aired the same year) to bring mainstream into a tattoo studio. We caught up with Ami before heading to Cork City, Ireland for the grand opening of Love Hate Cork City.
You have been tattooing since the early 90’s; what made you want to be a tattoo artist?
Since as early as I can remember I have loved to draw. Just being a punk rock kid, tattooing was the answer for me.
Were you always into drawing and art?
After you completed your civil duty in the Israeli Military you returned back to Miami and started your apprenticeship with Lou Sciberras of Tattoos by Lou; how did you get Lou to teach you the trade?
I guess persistence. But he taught me the old school way, by paying my dues and respecting the tradition of it.
You are known for your Japanese tattoo style; how did you become so interested in this style?
I always loved the Japanese layouts, large pieces, and the body suits. So I started drawing snakes and dragons. And I gravitated to this style knowing it was something I enjoyed.
Some of the greatest tattoo artists have worked for Tattoos by Lou like Chris Gaver; is this where you and Chris met?
I met Garver in 1994 at Fun City in NYC
When did you decide to open your first shop, Love HateTattoos also known as Miami Ink?
Working in south Florida and being emerged in such a prevalent tattoo scene. I was defiantly inspired at Tattoos by Lou. But the idea formed right after I completed my time there.
You opened this shop with Chris Núñez; how did you and Chris first meet?
South beach is a small town in a way, we had known each other from the beach in the early 90’s. And we were always kind of brothers from the start.
Tattooing had always been a taboo and considered underground; what made you bring it to the spotlight with Miami Ink?
To the mainstream tattoos are taboo. To an artist tattoos are another form of expression. I guess being heavily tattooed I used to experience prejudice. But it was my love for art that made me pursue the show.
Miami Ink was the first show of it’s kind being broadcasted into everyone’s living room; do you think that your show is what made tattoos mainstream? Knowing what you do now; any regrets or anything you would do differently?
I think the show took part in it. Hindsight is always 20/20 so there are a lot of things I would have done differently. But overall it is what it is, and I am thankful for the experience.
What do you think of all these tattoo shows on TV?
I think some of them are great. Others, not so much. I know what happens behind the scenes is not always what you see on the TV, so I try not to judge those that struggle too much.
You now have studios in Miami, NY, Ireland, London and now your newest in Asheville, NC; did you ever think you would have tattoo shops around the world?
Actually, Cork City is getting ready to open…so that will be my newest adventure. No, I don’t think I ever really planned it out. But I love to travel and I have met great people along the way, so one by one it happened. I am very proud of them all.
We love Asheville since we have been going to the Tattoo Convention there; what brought you to the mountains?
Asheville is a special place. I think as a father, and traveling, you always think – would this be a good place to raise my family? As soon as I went to Asheville – I knew that was it.
You run an online tattoo design website called Tattoodo; how did you come up with this idea? How successful has it been? Iknow the Tattoodo blog has a very impressive number of followers (Just shy of 500k).
I can’t take credit for running it – that is my friends Mik and Joe. I have to give them full appreciation. They had this great idea so we put our heads together, and Tattoodo was born. It has been really successful, due to their drive, knowledge, and talent. I couldn’t be more excited about the way things are going.
You got your first tattoo at the age of 15; what was it? Any story behind it?
My first professional tattoo was a Dragon on my chest. No real story just fell in line with my tattoo interests.
I remember in one episode of Miami Ink you talked about your Buddha neck tattoo and recommended not to get very visible tattoos; do you still hold these feeling with how tattoos became mainstream?
Yes absolutely, I don’t tattoo job stoppers unless you are heavily tattooed. I’m not saying I agree with people’s negative opinions. I’m just saying I do not want to tattoo a young person especially a tattoo less girl’s neck, or hands knowing I may have negatively affected her future opportunities.
Do you attend any tattoo shows or conventions? If so which one(s)? Any favorite?
All the time, I like most all of them. I love London, it is put on by my dear friend Miki Vialetto. I’m doing the Dortmunder now, Asheville and tattoo week in Brazil are coming up. They all have something different to offer. I guess it is always funniest for me when the guys are there or they are excellent artists I can watch and see fresh art from.
What can we expect from you in the future?
More art…that is my goal. Just to work hard and create more.
Depending on where you live or visit there is an Ami James tattoo shop for you. Check out all of his locations:
Miami Ink/Love Hate Tattoos
NY Ink/Wooster St. Social Club
Love Hate Social Club London
Tattoo Charlie Baltimore MD
Love Hate Social Club Cork St Ireland
Ami James and his staff of talented artists will be at the Asheville Tattoo & Piercing this weekend June 20-22nd.
Make sure to scroll down to see more of Ami James’ tattoo work in the gallery below.~ ☠ AnoTat2 ∴