What is Co:Create Ink? A look at the tattoo NFTs giving 'phygital' a whole new meaning

Sakura by Dillon Forte
What is Co:Create Ink? A look at the tattoo NFTs giving 'phygital' a whole new meaningWhat is Co:Create Ink? A look at the tattoo NFTs giving 'phygital' a whole new meaning


What is Co:Create Ink? A look at the tattoo NFTs giving 'phygital' a whole new meaning

Sakura by Dillon Forte
What is Co:Create Ink? A look at the tattoo NFTs giving 'phygital' a whole new meaning
Sakura by Dillon Forte

Tattoos, one of the oldest art traditions, are a mortal artform bound to the skin. Even the best designs are fated to a bodily lifespan, shown off by the roll of a sleeve cuff, a selectively buttoned shirt collar or shorts that hit the leg just right. 

But now, a new tech company is changing that. Co:Create Ink, a web3 platform founded by a team of art-appreciating technologists, celebrates the timeless value of tattoos by releasing them as exclusive digital designs unlocking access to world-renowned artists. 

If you thought Ink Master, the high-stakes reality TV show competition, was elevating tattoo art to new public consciousness, read on to learn how Co:Create Ink plans to evolve the way we interact with this ancient practice.

Co:Create started as a community engagement protocol

Web3 is full of startups creating products to improve online communities. Whether a 10,000-item profile picture (PFP) project or an exclusive art collectors Discord group, blockchain technology is helping creators reward fans in new ways.

Originally, the Co:Create protocol was designed for a similar purpose. It began as a white-glove integration that brands could use to offer loyalty incentives.

But then, things changed.

The concept took on new life when co-founder Tara Fung got her first tattoo 

In 2023, Co:Create Ink co-founder and CEO Tara Fung got her first tattoo. The experience opened her eyes to the industry’s outdated norms, from hourly compensation for the artists to the lack of promotion and fan engagement platforms beyond the Meta-owned Instagram.

"It's really hard to get an appointment with top artists,” Fung recently told OpenSea. "And every single artist I've spoken with over the past year has said that Instagram has been their primary way to access their community and audience, but Instagram is turning into TikTok, in that primarily video-based content is now more promoted. For these artists, changes in Instagram’s algorithms mean that their posts no longer even reach their own followers."

She also elaborated on why she thinks hourly payment for experienced artists creates a “perverse” financial incentive, saying:

"Most tattoo artists are paid for their time, not their art. They're literally paid based on how long they sit in a chair and apply a tattoo. Yet, some of the best artists are also some of the fastest tattooers because they've done it for so long and they've gotten so good."

Co:Create Ink aspires to champion tattooers as fine artists

At the heart of Co:Create Ink's mission is the desire to empower tattoo artists. By minting their designs as permanent digital works, the platform enables these artists to earn recognition and compensation for both their tattoo as a service and as a fine-art digital collectible.

"We see ourselves kind of as vessels,” said Fung. “We want to improve both the collector and the artist experience, but we recognize that we need to be able to take direction from the people in this industry who have been doing this for a really long time.”

The company recruited 10 highly sought-after founding artists

As one of her first actions, Fung assembled an inaugural group of founding tattoo artists to be the first to release work on the platform. 

Tattooing comes from a rich, cultural tapestry, Fung explained. She wanted Co:Create Ink to mirror the art form's global heritage, so she handpicked each artist for their exceptional talents, unique designs and multicultural roots. 

"I wanted to craft a founding artist cohort that represented people from around the world,” she said. “Different races, different genders, so that we had a diverse base from which to grow."

12 Around 1 To Create Physical Realities" by American tattoo artist Dillon Forte

Among the artists featured on Co:Create Ink are the Ethiopian/Swedish tattooer Cleo Kinnaman, New York-based surrealist Snuffy, Tokyo-based Tebori hand-poking artist Horimitsu, floral specialist David Allen from Chicago, and Victor Montagini from São Paulo, known for his custom contemporary designs. Reality TV fans will also be excited to know that Kat Tat, the LA-based television personality and first African American woman to own a Beverly Hills tattoo studio, is also one of Co:Create Ink’s founding artists.

"We understand that the value someone is primarily after when they're coming to Co:Create is they want an amazing tattoo from a world-renowned artist,” Fung said.

The Weight of Judgment... or Whatever" by Snuffy

The process is designed to be seamless

Fung and the team wanted the process of acquiring a tattoo through Co:Create Ink to be easy. That way, the focus can stay where it should: on the art.

"Tattoos are about art,” she said. “The experience, the connection to the artist, the tattoo. Some people may not even realize they're getting an NFT. They're coming because they are such fans of the artist,” she explained. 

The platform is built on Polygon, a popular Ethereum Layer 2 alternative, for its comparatively lower gas fees and shorter transaction times. Checkout includes flexible payment options via all major credit cards and a "buy now, pay later" model. 

Upon purchasing a design, clients become eligible to schedule their tattoo sessions. According to Fung, the artists decide whether their NFTs entitle holders to a custom-designed tattoo or a pre-designed 1-of-1. 

This photorealistic 1-of-1 NFT by German tattooer Moni Marino entitles the buyer to a two-day appointment

"Every artist is given full discretion to approach their art however they see fit,” she said. According to the website, each design comes with a digital, verifiable certificate of authenticity that ensures the exclusivity and originality of the artwork.

Brazilian Artist Victor Montaghini sells a few select custom art tattoo slots, enabling the holder to collaborate with the artist on a customized design based on their personal narrative.

According to Fung, upon purchasing a tattoo, the buyer can choose to redeem it themselves for a physical tattoo with that artist, or buy/sell/trade it on any secondary market. The redemption rights transfer with the token. And once a tattoo is redeemed, the NFT is upgraded to reflect it cannot be redeemed again. This is possible through dynamic NFT, or dNFT, technology. 

All NFTs are minted to embedded wallets on the Co:Create app, however beginning on April 1st, collectors can transfer their NFTs to their own self-custodial wallets.

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