Magic Ink – The Future of Tattooing? | Painful Pleasures Community

Magic Ink – The Future of Tattooing?

Magic Ink could revolutionize the tattoo industry and make great leaps in health care, too! Learn all about it in this blog.
by Danny Tress Last Updated: March 18, 2024

Magic Ink has generated a ton of buzz over the last few months. You’ve probably heard of it, if not on social media, then you’ve probably heard of it through an artist friend. And if you haven’t, you might be thinking, “WTF is Magic Ink?”

So we’ll answer that for you… and by the end of this blog, you’ll not only know what it is but how it can help you be a better artist overall.

What Is Magic Ink?

Artist using a light switch to activate Magic Ink on client's skin

Magic Ink solves a lot of problems for a lot of people:

  1. It negates the need to hide your tattoos for interviews, formal events, acting gigs, or visits with more conservative family members.
  2. It turns the body into an even more versatile canvas, so you can unleash your creativity like never before and achieve designs you never thought possible.
  3. It opens the door to potential health benefits that could even be life-saving.

Ok so now that we’ve teased the benefits enough, what is magic ink, exactly? In short, it’s a groundbreaking biocompatible tattoo ink that (magically, perhaps?) lets you switch your tattoo on and off with a simple light pen. One of the coolest parts of this revolutionary ink is that it came to be thanks to a professional tattoo artist—it’s not something concocted in a lab by un-artistic minds. The tattoo artist in question is Keith “Bang Bang” McCurdy, shop owner of Bang Bang Tattoo, and tattooer of such esteemed clients as Rihanna, Justin Beiber, and Cara Delivingne. Thanks to his visionary collab with University of Colorado professor Carson Bruns, science has made magic ink a reality. And while one might make the argument that science is not magical, when combined with art, it is a kind of magic in and of itself.

Of course, the technology has a ways to go and there are still improvements to be made. But the potential for magic ink is limitless.

Unraveling the Science Behind Magic Ink

How does Magic Ink work its spell? It’s all about harnessing the power of light. It began when PhD holder Carson Bruns created “the solar freckle,” a tattoo he put on himself that could detect ultraviolet light. His hope for the “solar freckle,” a technology six years in the making, was to prevent skin cancer. Bang traveled to Colorado to meet Bruns and see this innovation firsthand, and immediately, he wondered how this tech could be adapted for creative (and consumer) use. Consequently, the pair formed a partnership and created HyprSkn, the parent company that would one day produce Magic Ink. Combining science with artistic purpose, Bruns and Bang came up with a super-controlled, precise formula that is biocompatible and medical-grade.

So what’s the magic ingredient to Magic Ink?

It’s called polymethyl methylate…. which is what dermal filler is made of. This secret ingredient is an upgrade to standard tattoo ink, providing optimally sized particles that your immune system can’t eliminate over time.

How Does Magic Ink Work?

Diagram showing 4 step process of how Magic Ink works

Magic Ink is photochromic, which means it goes through a reversible change according to what kind of light it’s exposed to. The ink turns on and off, but by wavelengths (not a light switch). One wavelength of light will activate the ink. According to Bang, the wavelength accomplishes this by actually changing the structure of the particles in the ink, showing the color as a result. Other wavelengths or fields of light will deactivate the color, turning the tattoo “off.” Bang recommends thinking about this like thermochromic effects: for instance, a coffee mug that shows an image when it’s hot.

The Magic Ink Tattooing Process

For clients, it’s no different than getting a tattoo with standard ink. But this is crucial for artists to know as well, because it means you can tackle a magic ink tattoo as you would an original piece… but you’ll have to bear in mind where the design is going. For instance, if you’re adding a magic ink detail to an existing tattoo or a “non-magical” design, you’ll have to consider how the piece will look when the ink is visible and when it isn’t. The tattoo design should look cohesive with or without the magic enhancement.

Additionally, you’ll want to recommend your clients don’t activate and deactivate their tattoo during the healing phase to ensure the best-healed results. Once the tattoo’s fully healed, they can enjoy switching their magic ink on and off.

Unlocking the Superpowers of Tattooing with Magic Ink

You might be doubting the power of Magic Ink. It sounds unrealistic, sure. But remember: this magical innovation isn’t perfect or flawless and it’s still in its early stages. For instance, as of now, only red magic ink exists (albeit Bang Bang plans to crank out more colors in the future). Like any advancement, it’s a step forward with lots of potential. Magic Ink isn’t just about aesthetics—it’s about empowerment, too. Imagine having a tattoo that isn’t just cool, but also serves as a real-time indicator of your health. Carson Bruns and his team are pioneering UV-sensitive tattoo ink that can alert you to potential dangers such as overexposure to sunlight (i.e. the original intention for the OG solar freckle) or even changes in your blood chemistry.

These “smart tattoos” have the potential to grow beyond the realm of tattooing and revolutionize healthcare. It could be an all-new frontier in personalized medicine. Imagine tattoos that can detect blood sugar levels or blood alcohol content—it’s like having a medical alert system right on your skin, one with potentially life-saving effects!

Embracing Innovation

It’s natural to feel apprehensive about big changes. Or even worried. AI in particular has many people concerned about the future. You might even be totally resistant to the idea of using this new ink (or AI). But the key to progress is embracing change while also holding onto traditional values that make sense. Magic Ink is a harmonious blend of the old and the new. It gives you plenty of possibilities for creativity and expression while also holding the potential for great leaps in personal health. Even if you choose not to use Magic Ink, understanding its potential can broaden your perspective and inspire new avenues of artistic exploration. As for AI, there are plenty of ways you can use new tools to your advantage (check out our blog here for tips). So keep an open mind and your creative lights on and activated.

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