The internet has done an awesome job of allowing us to share pictures of bad tattoos, but it hasn’t necessarily helped people get better tattoos. At least these days it’s easier to shop around online to find what style and quality local artists have, but it’s still tough to ensure you get the exact design you have in mind before you go to a tattoo shop. That’s all changing with the launch of a new Copenhagen-based startup, called Tattoodo, that is doing for the tattoo industry what 99designs did for graphic design.

That’s actually the way the concept started. Co-founder Mik Thobo-Carlsen was working with Johan Plenge, the CEO of Tattoodo on another project, when one day Plenge said he wanted to get a tattoo, and mentioned that he wished there was something like 99designs for tattoo designs. Thobo-Carlsen brushed it off in passing, but Plenge came back later saying he wanted to start something where you could pool tattoo artists for design sketches, and then pay for the best one.

Getting more serious about the concept they got another friend of theirs, Henrik Albertsen, to be their chairman, and put together a short presentation. They knew that they needed someone deep in the tattoo industry to help make connections and be sure they were tailoring their product correctly, so they reached out to Ami James, one of the top guys in today’s scene, who agreed to a call.

They found out later James gets a ton of proposals, but luckily the night after the pitch James mentioned it to one of his friends, who ran the numbers, and said he had to get in on this.

“Ami [James] called back the next day and said we should meet,” says Thobo-Carlsen. He suggested Wednesday, so the team offered to fly to Miami from Copenhagen to meet. James said it would much easier for everyone if he just came to Copenhagen, so he flew over and ended up staying about five days. They all agreed on the concept and started the company.

The way the custom made concept on Tattoodo works is that you can pay $100-300 to describe what you have in mind. The tattoo artists on Tattoodo start sketching up stuff, and you can comment and rate sketches to drive the focus. By the end of the week, hopefully you have the exact design you want.

Once you have the design, you can take it to your local shop. Of course it won’t be a 100% replica, but the idea is to nail down the concept you’re looking for, or to source part of the tattoo concept you didn’t even know you were looking for. Additionally, they’re building up a network of local tattoo shops that are trusted, so they can send you to the right place once you order a design online.

Their custom-made contests are going really well, but at the moment they’re reluctant to have too many contests open in the beginning, as they are still getting designers onboard.

“In their free time, all of these [tattoo artists] are sitting around drawing anyway, so they don’t mind if they don’t win, because they can still put them up on their portfolio. But on 99designs I’m guessing a lot of these designers aren’t participating as a hobby,” says Thobo-Carlsen.

Launching next week is another section of the site, focusing on ready-made tattoos designs that you can purchase to use. Having Ami James on board gives them a great connection to talent, meaning other top artists, like Henning Jorgensen are selling their pre-made designs.

Design risk is a big factor in deciding to get a tattoo, so I predict there’s a huge market for Tattoodo, especially in the un-inked portion of society like myself that might buy a concept just to have something more concrete to think about. Yeah, I should get a tattoo.

No more articles