Temporary art sounds like a tough sell. But for wearable art brand Tattly, designs don’t need to last forever to leave a mark.
Founded in 2011 by Swiss design blogger Tina Roth Eisenberg, the Brooklyn-based company sells fanciful, nontoxic temporary tattoos designed by professional artists around the world. Within a year or so of launching, Tattly received its 10,000th online order and kicked off a healthy wholesale business. Today, Tattly's tattoos are sold in over 1000 stores in 40 different countries.
Tattly is known within the creative community for supporting independent designers—the company gives its 120-plus artists a portion of every sale. Recently, Tattly exceeded $1 million paid in artist royalties.
“Our strength is in creative capital and relationships with artists,” says Yng-Ru Chen, director of marketing and partnerships. Building an international artist roster helped Tattly significantly expand its product spread: from just 16 designs in 2011 to over 700 currently. Those designs run the gamut from sea otters in top hats to cheese graters to skulls.
Creators hail from Cincinnati, Ohio to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, offering skills that are equally far and wide: pieces are crafted by children’s book illustrators, bloggers, toy designers, paper goods artisans and typeface designers, as well as Vogue and The National Gallery of Art.
Here, four artists discuss their collaboration with Tattly and share how creating temporary tattoos fits into their design careers.
Artist: Alanna Cavanagh (Toronto, Canada)
A big part of being an artist is creating new work and in order to do this one must set aside some time when you're not earning money. I receive a royalty payment from Tattly every quarter which helps me do this. Tattly Founder Tina Roth Eisenberg refers to this "passive income” as the “secret sauce of every creative career."
Artist: Josh Smith (Brooklyn, NY)
I do love new challenges and exploring unfamiliar territory in my work. My work tends to be less focused on decoration or pure image-making and is more of an attempt at solutions that reflect a context, a medium. Some of my designs for Tattly illustrate this, as they are not reliant on a visual, but rather are explorations or surprises that play with the format: one interacts with the color of your skin, one allows people customize using the paper application format and so on.
Artist: Amy Louise Blay (Cheltenham, UK)
Companies like Tattly are so important. They help the design and creative industries thrive. Any exciting applications for our artwork help give it buzz. It keeps us in business and gives new life to our designs. I love the thought that somebody out there is wearing my art, even if it’s temporary.