New tattoo machine can ink your arm with an NFT, allowing artists to collect royalties

Quick Take

  • Austin-based Blackdot unveiled a machine that can ink a tattoo that is stored on the blockchain and doubles as an NFT, allowing artists to earn royalties when designs are used.
  • Famous digital artist Tyler Hobbs is a supporter of the project and will create “one-of-a-kind” tattoos.

Tattoo robots capable of giving humans computer-generated inkings have been around for years, but a new device is taking things a step further by offering designs that are also stored on the blockchain, making it possible for creators to collect royalties.

An Austin-based company called Blackdot unveiled the device of the same name, counting NFT pioneer Tyler Hobbs as one of its supporters.

“When I started to see what the Blackout device could do, it was just mind-blowing the level of precision and detail that it was able to achieve,” said Hobbs. "It just seemed like such a natural fit, this blend of the digital and the human, combining man and machine in a way is just really a big passion of mine artistically, and so the opportunity to work with Blackdot was really exciting to me.”

Pieces from Hobbs’s Fidenza collection have sold for millions of dollars in the past.

Blackdot plans to offer custom designs from a slew of different artists who will create tattoos that recipients will also own as an NFT.

Mockup of the tattoo device that will give NFT inkings: Image: Blackdot.


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Test dots ...

Before giving a client a tattoo, Blackdot’s device first uses a small number of concealed test dots — roughly the same size in diameter as human hair —  to determine the proper dot depth for each customer’s skin type, the company said.

“Artists are always amazed at the fidelity and accuracy with which the Blackdot device can reproduce their works on skin," Blackdot CTO Yan Azdoud said. "Our grayscale dots are ~250µm in diameter (.25mm) and we’re able to tattoo them with surgical precision, a combination enabling us to execute extremely detailed designs that cannot be tattooed by hand.”

Blackdot is initially launching in Austin, Texas as it searches for additional investors and plans an expansion across the U.S. and elsewhere. It raised $4.5 million in 2021, according to Crunchbase.

The company believes its new product "has the power to shift culture and to change the way people think about art, tattoo, and self-expression,” said Joel Pennington, Blackdot's CEO and founder.

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

RT Watson is a senior reporter at The Block who covers a wide array of topics including U.S.-based companies, blockchain gaming and NFTs. Formerly covered entertainment at The Wall Street Journal, where he wrote about Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros. and the creator economy while focusing primarily on technological disruption across media. Previous to that he covered corporate, economic and political news in Brazil while at Bloomberg. RT has interviewed a diverse cast of characters including CEOs, media moguls, top influencers, politicians, blue-collar workers, drug traffickers and convicted criminals. Holds a master's degree in Digital Sociology.


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