Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for tattoo artist, as it connects them with potential clients from around the world. Instagram is arguably one of the best ways an artist can market themselves, however, anyone in the industry will tell you that it's very saturated with amazing artists. Being one of the first people to hop onto a new platform and make a name for yourself is a powerful thing and it's allowed Jake Karamol to become the most famous tattooer on TikTok.
For the past year, Karamol has crafted TikTok videos about the tattoo experience—from interaction with clients to shenanigans that go on between coworkers in the shop. He's just shy of a million followers on the app and has created plenty of viral videos about tattooing. We caught up with Jake to learn about why he created a TikTok, how he comes up with his ideas and what he hopes to team Gen Z about tattooing.
What made you decide to create a TikTok and what were the first videos you made?
I've always made videos, mainly to send to friends for fun. I was on another video making platform for a short time before it was shut down and I never felt like I got to fully enjoy it. One night, I was working on a tattoo drawing and watching YouTube when a TikTok compilation popped up. The videos were super funny and creative, so I decided to give it a shot!
The first few videos I made were very SNL type content and I really enjoyed creating, as well as the platform's community.
When did you start making videos about tattoo artists and tattoo shops?
April of last year I moved to the shop I'm in now. I have more freedom and no judgement from the owner or other coworkers like my previous shop. I felt free to make videos and express myself more on the tattoo side of things and that's when everything really started moving.
What was your first viral TikTok and why do you think it took off?
My first viral video was called "The Client who can't sit still." The client was having trouble sitting still so I wrapped him to the table in plastic wrap to keep him still. I think it took off because it was definitely something the app hadn't seen before and it's super relatable. I had people asking if I would really do that.
What works best on TikTok and how do you take that into account?
I think being authentic is the most important part. Being yourself and showcasing your passions and personality. So I figured I would make things that I think are funny while also showing my art career and what makes me happy.
What do you hope to teach the TikTok community about tattooing?
I think because there are a good chunk of younger users, around the ages of 15-18, they will be the next generation of tattoo clients. A lot of them don't know much about the industry or how to go about getting professional tattoos. And home tattooing is glorified because they are uneducated about the dangers. I feel like I have an opportunity to inform them, as well as create funny content for them to enjoy. I also teach them how to be a good client or how to look out for red flags when choosing a tattoo shop.
How do you come up with the ideas for your videos?
A lot of them are past experiences that I've had or things I just find funny about our industry. Some I come up with on the spot while I'm tattooing a client and we talk about what would be funny. Then we make the video during a break.
Who are the other people in your videos and who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
My best friend/coworker Bobby, my actual clients and smaller creators from TikTok who I enjoy. Many of them travel from far distances to create videos with me.
How has TikTok impacted your tattoo career?
Well, for starters I have five times the inquiries coming in for tattoos. People are coming from different states and countries to get tattooed by me as opposed to just local clientele. I also get a lot of fans coming into the shop wanting pictures and autographs—which is still crazy to me. So it's definitely a big change.
How does it feel to be the most followed tattooer on TikTok?
It feels strange, to be honest. I was never a social media person before this and was just a random tattooer from a small town in Maryland that nobody knew. It kind of feels like going from a nobody to a somebody over night, which I'm still sort of in denial about. But I'm excited over everything that's happened and can't wait to see what comes next.