In our September issue, I interviewed Sri Lankan photographer Lalin Jinasena...
A huge fan of Miami Ink and NY Ink myself, you can only imagine my excitement when I was given the opportunity to interview the man behind the hit reality shows, Ami James. For the longest time, I longed to jet set to NYC during fall, walk in the perfect 18°C weather, get myself a tattoo from Ami James himself and be featured on the show. But for right now, I can only dream as the vicious humidity snaps me back into reality.
Read on as Ami James talks to us more about the exciting brand new season, NY Ink 2, and shares his thoughts about tattoos and what they mean to him.
Be sure to catch the brand new NY Ink 2, every Sunday, 11pm on TLC (Starhub, Channel 427).
What can we look forward to see in NY Ink 2?
James: It’s going to be a pretty interesting season. All in all, we got some great art, a lot of cool stories and some really cool tattoos. You really see the guys get comfortable and do what they do best. Megan did some amazing tattoos. Jessica had a huge change in her life, so it’s been really, really exciting. A lot of things will come to light in this season. There are definitely some major changes at the end and a few surprises.
Why did you choose to have the show in NYC after Miami? Are there going to be drastic differences between the two?
James: NYC has always been, and will always be my second home. So in those terms it was an easy choice. I would have to say that there is a difference because personality-wise, local New Yorkers are completely different. I think the tattoos that they request for have a lot to do with their pride of being from New York, which is something that we don’t get as much in Miami because Miami is a smaller, fresher place. New York has got third, fourth generation people getting tattooed, the police department, the fire department and everybody. It is the culture of New York.
What do you like most about NYC?
James: I love the multicultural aspect of life here and how everything is at your fingertips.
For the opening in the show, you said that “There are millions of stories in NYC, and our job is to tell them all … in ink.” So I assume for you, tattoos carry with them a story. What do you think of people getting a tattoo simply for its aesthetic values?
James: Tattoos for aesthetics make sense to me as long as you get the work done from a great artist. This is the most important thing. Then it is for the love of art as well.
Can you share with us a tattoo you have on your body that means the most to you?
James: The portrait I have of my daughter.
How old would your daughters have to be for you to allow them to have their first tattoos?
How did you get into tattooing, and went on to be really skillful at it?
James: I was a young punk kid that fell into it, but my path was outlined for me. I knew I loved art and I was always drawing, so this helped me improve quickly. I first got started when I was 19 years old in the army, where I did my first tattoo. I had to wait until I got out of the service at age 21 and that was when I started tattooing. I got an apprenticeship in Miami under an old timer who had been tattooing for 40 years. He taught me everything and gave me the chance to start. It was a really hard start, but it paid off in the end.
Did you aspire to do something else? Or have you always known you wanted to be a tattoo artist?
James: I have to say, I'm pretty contented.
What advice can you give to a budding tattoo artist here in Singapore who is afraid to do what he loves?
James: There is an old saying "If you love what you do, then you never work a day in your life". I think the idea of never having to "work" is enough motivation for any person to pursue their dreams.
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