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From crayons to needles

TV show Miami Inc is going to New York City and artist Ami James also has plans to take the show to Las Vegas. We talk to the artist about crazy tattoos, dealing with ADD and joining the army in Israel

Sure, he looks tough, what with six-pack abs and tattoos creeping out of his well-fitted t-shirt. But Ami James, owner of Miami Ink, a tattoo parlour in Florida's sunny beach town started out as a scrawny kid who loved playing around with his crayons and had a hard time concentrating in Math class. "I never even graduated high school. I had  ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), and it just made more sense to drop out and get into the tattoo service. I always stuck to the art so it didn't really affect my life much but I think of tattoos as a blessing," say James. 


Tattoo artist Ami James inks a woman on his show NY Ink.

James, who was born and raised in Israel, moved to Miami when he was 12. "At 17, I went back to Israel and joined the army for three years. It wasn't mandatory, but I just wanted to volunteer," says James, who got his first glimpse of a tattoo in Israel during his term. "I remember I was getting tattooed by one of my friends and he left me in a room with the equipment, so I just tried to finish the tattoo on my own. I've always been an artist. It was just the medium that changed."

For the scores of people that have gone under his needle, James' advice is to put more thought into their tattoos. "Originality and something that means a lot to you is important. You need to look at an artist's portfolio to gauge how good he is for you."

After the success of his TV show Miami Ink, where patrons would share the stories behind their tattoos, James will now start a similar show about his New York shop. "We have a  beautiful shop in the middle of SoHo, which is in the heart of the Art District of New York City. As compared to Miami it has a different flavour and is fast-paced," says James. In the future, he also plans to take the TV show to Las Vegas.

NY Ink premieres on November 10 on TLC at 10 pm

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