COVID-19 has hit many businesses hard, especially those deemed non-essential. Tattoo shops are one of the many non-essential businesses that have been put out of work due to state wide quarantines, leaving many artists unsure of how they're going to make this month's rent. Tattooers from around the world have been pushing the merch and prints on social media to get some extra cash, however, there's now a way they can make a couple extra bucks through tattooing, but without leaving their home.

Inkbox is a temporary tattoo company that has started a program to support tattooers during COVID-19. They've established the Support Tattoo Artists Campaign, which markets artist's designs on Inkbox and gives $10 back to the artist for every design sold. We sat down with one of the company's co-founders and president, Braden Handley to learn more about the campaign and how it's already helping artists.

How did you come up with the idea for Inkbox and get the concept off the ground?

My brother and I wanted tattoos, but didn’t have a good way to test them out realistically before getting them. We came across a fruit from Panama that the Indigenous people have been using for thousands of years to dye their skin, so we flew down there to stay with them for a week and learn more about it. Afterward, we imported the fruit and, with the help of a freelance chemist, isolated the active ingredient that actually stains the skin. Our first product was just sticker stencils that you’d fill in with the ink. It wasn’t pretty but it worked.

How have you grown your company through social media marketing?

We were on Instagram in 2014 when it was really starting to take off for businesses. Fortunately, we were able to utilize paid social media marketing to build a big following quickly. This would be a lot harder to do with the competition in digital marketing in 2020. Now it’s about finding organic opportunities elsewhere. We were early on TikTok and have built that audience to more than 50K in just a few months.

Why do you think people love your temporary tattoos?

I think it’s mainly because people are a lot more fluid in their emotions and feelings nowadays. One day you might feel a lot different than the next, and that’s okay. Our tattoos speak to that audience. Also, people want to test out their ideas in a unique and realistic way.

Take us through some of the updates you’ve made to your tattoos, which make them look more realistic and last longer?

We took over a year of research and development to create our new product which launched in late 2019. It’s a much easier application method than before and produces a clean, crisp tattoo every time. It’s our third iteration of the product since we launched, but the application has changed so much since that it really feels like a brand new product.

What are your best selling tattoos and why do you think this is?

A lot of our best selling tattoos are from tattoo artists collections like Curt Montgomery, GIrlKnewYork and Emily Malice. Tattoo artists best understand what will look good on skin and I think that translates well for Inkbox. We’ve also done collections with Post Malone, Kurtis Conner and Rick and Morty (Adult Swim) that our customers loved.

How has COVID-19 impacted the tattoo world and how has Inkbox responded?

As everyone knows, tattoo shops around the world have closed because of COVID-19, including our own tattoo shop Inside Out in Toronto. We’ve seen that a lot of tattooers are creating and selling new forms of art, like prints and merch, because they’ve had to stop tattooing, and Inkbox provides another avenue for them to support themselves. We’re partnering with tattoo artists and giving them $10 for every Inkbox tattoo they sell right now. Some of the artists whose designs launched last week have already made a few hundred dollars.

Who are some of the artists that are included in this campaign and what styles can customers look forward to seeing?

It’s definitely a wide range. Everyone from Brando Chiesa, Matteo Nangeroni, Mirko Sata and Tommy Oh to smaller extremely talented artists like Ruda Alina, Infrababy, Nathalie Talii, and Cedric De Rodot. Styles are mostly minimal, sketch, blackwork, traditional, geometric, or linework.

How does Inkbox go about picking artists?

We are trying to diversify our designs as much as possible, so we really like to work with people with a distinct style.

How can other artists get involved?

Email me directly at braden@getinkbox.com

What else should our readers know about this project?

Please support artists in this difficult time, buy their prints, shirts and whatever else they might be selling. You may not realize how much a few dollars and general support can help right now.