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All I tried to do in the beginning was have a reason why you’re getting a tattoo, but it snowballed into something ridiculous. I got on the road and started seeing artists all over the world tattooing because of their love of tattoos and not because of some stupid fucking story. When not Travelling, I am mainly in Miyazaki but am also available for some appointments in Tokyo on Request.
This weeks Artist Spotlight is on Ami James of Love Hate Tattoo Studios in Miami and Wooster Street Social Club in NYC. AnoTat2:  You have been tattooing since the early 90’s; what made you want to be a tattoo artist? AnoTat2:  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? AnoTat2:  You are known for your Japanese tattoo style; how did you become so interested in this style? AnoTat2:  Some of the greatest tattoo artists have worked for Tattoos by Lou like Chris Gaver; is this where you and Chris met? AnoTat2:  When did you decide to open your first shop, Love Hate Tattoos also known as Miami Ink? AnoTat2:  Tattooing had always been a taboo and considered underground; what made you bring it to the spotlight with Miami Ink? AnoTat2:  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? AnoTat2:  We love Asheville since we have been going to the Tattoo Convention there; what brought you to the mountains? AnoTat2:  You run an online tattoo design website called Tattoodo; how did you come up with this idea? AnoTat2:  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? Ami James and his staff of talented artists will be at the Asheville Tattoo & Piercing this weekend June 20-22nd.
AMI JAMES: It’s funny that we’re having this conversation while I’m in Israel because that’s where my history starts. It was kind of fucked up because this guy dragged us into a contract that basically fucked our lives up.
If I took your life and edited it down to the one percent I want to show people, I can make anybody look like whoever I want. In the beginning, I saw American Choppers and I said, “Man, we got a great potential show to do what those guys are doing.” Not that I’m a fan of their fucking bikes, but the dynamic of a shop is so interesting. On a side note, many people asked me to buy some of the designs that are displayed on this site. 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.

To an artist tattoos are another form of expression. I guess being heavily tattooed I used to experience prejudice.
I think as a father, and traveling, you always think – would this be a good place to raise my family? When I was 17 years old, I joined the army here, but before that, I went to get tattooed by a guy named Avi Psycho. We’re traveling around the world to show that all tattoo people have something in common, even if they’re not the same race, color, or religion. The fact is that we didn’t have time to take full control of it so we had to hire designers and everything.
Its is not always possible, but you are welcome to submit your questions as I do have some originals and some scans available.
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. He wanted to take a break while he was tattooing me and he left me in there for about 10 or 15 minutes. I don’t wish anything bad on her, but I don’t want anything to do with what she or the network are doing. Did the show end up having a negative effect on your tattooing?
We caught up with Ami before heading to Cork City, Ireland for the grand opening of Love Hate Cork City. It was a tough thing to have somebody come to the tattoo business and promise that you’re going to be represented in the right way, and that no one is going to make tattoos or your shop look bad. If I scream at Yoji [Harada] once a fucking month, they make it look like it’s every fucking week. I’ve done the best tattoos I’ve ever done over the course of the past four months, and it was due to the fact that I was out of that fucking shop. We have seen Ethiopian ladies with facial tattoos and Bedouin ladies with their bodies tattooed up to their foreheads.
I don’t ever want to step in that tattoo shop ever again.” I put my tattoo machines away and I was done. I didn’t give a fuck about making money off of my tattoos, so I’m doing $6,000 tattoos for fucking free. 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.
These days, if you’re a great artist, anybody will let you come to the tattoo shop and get an apprenticeship.
It’s not a scripted show, so the viewers start to believe every bit of bullshit that happens during it. If it was real, I wouldn’t have to walk through the door three fucking times so you can capture the scene. So was the Kat Von D fallout mostly TV magic? The shop is still happening and we can finally take the Miami Ink stickers down and just leave the Worldwide Tribe stickers on the window.

We do all of that on top of traveling and shooting 80 percent of the time. Have you thought about opening more tattoo shops? I had this scumbag by the name of Charlie Corwin come to talk to me because he knew that I was a people person. I can’t go out at night without having some poor bastard coming up to me and telling me that he wants a tattoo for his dad who died yesterday. The whole thing snowballed to where these poor motherfuckers were forcing themselves to come up with stories to get tattoos. It’s funny—there hasn’t been one month where I haven’t gotten a call with someone asking me to open a new shop or wanting to buy my name. I was only doing one appointment a week at 55 Tattoo, which was the Horitoshi family’s shop in New York City. The problem was that I had to wait until I got out of the army, and that didn’t happen until I was 20. What did you do when you got out?
I went back to the States and started doing tattoos out of my house with tattoo gear my roommates had given me.
He says he’s been searching from shop to shop for two months and couldn’t find the right characters.
Then, two or three months later, I started apprenticing with Lou Sciberras at Tattoos by Lou in South Beach. After the show was over, I didn’t tattoo for a year because it put me in the worst fucking mood and put the worst thoughts in my head. You can only hear so many people talk about running over their daughters or their dead dog. I’m not a therapist. How do you deal with the criticism you’ve gotten in response to your involvement with Miami Ink? It’s really funny because haters are haters and they will always be around and there’s really nothing anyone can do about it. I don’t want to do the show no more.” I didn’t agree to have my name spread with 60,000 people because it was my name that created it.
And I think one thing that most people agreed on in the tattoo industry—whether they hated us or not—was that it was good for business. Tattoo artists are just artists and we wanted to showcase that that’s all we are, rather than being judged every fucking day for being tattooed. It was time to stop it and it was time to show the world that tattoo artists are just trying to make a living.

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