My iPhone and iPad are littered with tattoo apps, from portable art references to fun photo games where I give my mom big tribal face tattoos. Today's technology can keep an ancient art thriving with educational offerings and digital creative tools. It can hit hit the mark with apps like the art of Horiyoshi III & Sailor Jerry or it can be a bit creepy with fetish galleries of tattooed feet (don't Google it).
The new Instattoo iOS app is neither awesome nor creepy. It's meh.
The app is largely designed as a creative tool but with little creativity. Billing itself as "The World's First Tattoo Design Generator" (which I doubt), Instattoo gives you a bunch of squiggly lines and let's you morph the patterns in a kaleidoscope-like fashion with a few swipes across your iPad or iPhone screen. "No need to draw!", their headline says! Once you create your "unique" work of art, you can then broadcast it to thousands of your closest social networking friends ... and even better, bring it to a tattoo shop where of course no one there will laugh at you.
[You may think this is just ugly blogger sarcasm, but what's uglier is that someone actually did get a tattoo from this app, as shown in the video below.]
Snark aside, I don't completely hate it because digitally manipulating patterns to create custom tattoos is often used by top artists today and has great potential. Granted, an app like this is too simplified, but it could be a way to play with ideas on the road and then flesh them out in a more sophisticated program or on paper. Or even skin. The idea is there with Instattoo but not the execution, especially with such limited and banal patterns available. It's also worth repeating, although obvious, that a design on a 2D surface doesn't always translate on skin; for example, lines not properly spaced can blur together.
When considering your next tattoo, sometimes it's best to put the tablet down and just talk with a good artist.