These robot tattooers are apparently super-fast and cause nearly no pain.
Dot Your T's
Would you let a robot ink a cloud-based tattoo design onto you? For the low price of $10,000 and a trip to Austin, Texas, now you can.
Last week, the Blackdot robo-tattooing startup came out of stealth to announce that it was opening up the books for its new studio in Austin using its literally-trademarked "A New Way to Tattoo" method, which seems poised to take the slogan "Keep Austin Weird" to a whole new level.
While it's far from the first robot tattooing system out there, Blackdot appears to be the first company that has a plan to scale and monetize the technology, having raised a cool $4.5 million in seed capital back in 2021.
Using a tattooing method akin to the pointillism art style called "dotwork" or "blackwork," Blackdot's big idea is that artists anywhere in the world can upload their work to the company's proprietary cloud and have it inked by robots onto anyone using its futuristic-looking tattoo chair.
The company's robots "learn" their subjects' skin, the press release claims, by doing a few tiny "test dots" to determine the exact number and depth of punctures to get the tattoo just right.
"For the cool kids, there's a less-is-more mentality now," Blackdot's co-founder and CEO Joel Pennington told Axios. "What they want is smaller tattoos that are highly detailed — and small details are really hard to execute, with no room for mistakes."
No Pain, No Gain
Thus far, Blackdot's biggest artist partnership is with generative artist Tyler Hobbs, a non-fungible token (NFT) wunderkind whose work is assisted by his own algorithms and has made him millions of dollars even as the rest of the market crashes — and whose popularity may account for the hefty $10,000 pricetag a Blackdot tattoo currently carries.
Along with Hobbs, the company said that it has also partnered with Turkish tattoo artist Omer Tunca and visual artist John Craig, whose work graced the cover of The Smashing Pumpkins' seminal 1995 album "Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness."
According to testimonials, Blackdot tattoos involve a "negligible" amount of pain and are done way faster than traditional — read: human — tattooing, though many old heads would argue that the pain and the time commitment are part of the process, not least of which because the physical trauma of having needles repeatedly driven into your skin releases endorphins that provide that telltale tattoo rush.
"I can honestly say I could take a nap," one happy Blackdot-er said in a video the startup posted, "if they were to even take that long, which they don't."
While the concept and design are nothing to scoff at, it's hard to imagine even the most adventurous and anti-traditionalist tattoo enthusiast forking over ten G's when they don't even get the bragging rights of having gone to a specific artist — but then again, maybe that's the point.
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