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High-tech tattoo startup in Austin launches automated device

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin startup could totally transform the tattoo industry.

Blackdot launched last week, unveiling the world’s first automatic tattooing device and opened up bookings at its flagship studio in east Austin.

When it comes to tattoos, getting a highly detailed design from a well-known artist can be a tough task and can involve trips to New York, Los Angeles or abroad while waiting many months on a long waiting list.

Yet, Blackdot has changed the name of the game, blending man and machinery into art through ink.

The high-tech startup has created the first online marketplace of its kind, making art that was previously out of reach as a tattoo accessible to all.

The Blackdot device creates credit card-sized designs, rendered through several tiny black dots.

However, Blackdot’s founder and CEO Joel Pennington insists he isn’t trying to replace tattoo artists.

Instead, he says his technology is offering access to a new revenue stream through their digital marketplace.

“Every time we render one of their designs into a tattoo, artists are able to get a royalty from that,” Pennington said. “So, it actually enables them to scale up within an industry with a relatively low ceiling.”

Austin native Amanda Goodson had one of these tattoos etched onto her arm through the device.

She said the experience was a lot less painful than a typical tattoo.

“This opens up the tattoo world to a new type of tattoo art that is capable of creating art that humans would not necessarily be capable of,” Goodson said.

Blackdot’s device uses a small number of concealed test dots to learn each client’s skin characteristics.

These dots are compared against its skin database to determine which settings — number of punctures and puncture depth — will yield the perfect black dot for that client’s preferred tattoo location.

“Our automated device is kind of like the LASIK of tattoo,” Blackdot chief technology officer Yan Azdoud said. “So, the accuracy is extremely high.”

To celebrate its launch, Blackdot is offering the unique experience of working with Austin artist Tyler Hobbs to create a custom tattoo design.

Although, those tattoos will come at quite a cost, with a total price tag of around $10,000 for design fees and execution.

The startup is also offering limited edition collections from renowned Turkish tattoo artists Omer Tunca and John Craig, the visual artist behind the cover art for The Smashing Pumpkins’ diamond double album.

Tattoo-seekers can apply for these designs on Blackdot’s website.

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