MindoMondo is pleased to present a new ongoing interview series called “influencers”. Influencers will focus on people across all industries that have a unique voice in their areas of expertise, and have organically created and continually nurture a healthy fan following. From business leaders to entertainers, this series will seek to shed light on how these personalities connect with their audiences.
Recently we virtually cruised down from Central to South Florida to talk to Ami James and discuss how he has reached out to his fan community. Ami is best known for his hit TLC series “Miami Ink”. In addition, Ami has built a successful enterprise, extending his personal brand to include tattoo shops, nightclubs and retail lines.
Mindomondo (MM): Most people know you from the hit TLC series Miami Ink, and are aware that your popularity exploded right after the first season. When and how did you notice that you had a voice & talent that others were interested in talking about?
Ami James (AJ): I didn’t realize tattoo would become so mainstream, but being on a major network really opened peoples eyes and minds to the art.
(MM): You’re clearly one of the very few personalities in your field that are taking advantage of direct communication with your fans through social media, which leads me to think you’re very comfortable having dialog through these means. Why do you think others are hesitant to take on this mindset?
(AJ): Social media is cool because it brings me closer to my fans than I’ve ever been. When Miami Ink first aired social media wasn’t very big. Yeah, MySpace was around but it wasn’t too interactive back then. Now interactive platforms like twitter and facebook allows me to really get to know my fans… and they really get to know me (the uncensored me).
(MM): What benefits have you reaped from making yourself more accessible to your fans?
(AJ): Making myself more accessible to my fans via social networking allows me to get instant feedback, which is priceless. With a click of the mouse I can reach all corners of the globe. One more click and all corners of the globe can reach me.
(MM): Much has been said about being authentic versus faking it to fool people into following you. You certainly belong in the first group, but what do you do to keep things real, regardless of what means you’re using to communicate?
(AJ): I simply try to be myself in all aspects of life. Whether I’m in the tattoo shop talking with clients or online chatting with fans – I speak what’s on my mind and I think people truly appreciate that about me whether they like what I’m saying or not.
(MM): How do you handle negative feedback? Do you usually ignore it, or do you think it’s better to openly respond to it?
(AJ):I know I can’t please everyone. When I get negative feedback, as long as it’s not offensive, I respond to it openly. It’s all part of being in the public eye.
(MM): Some people have no problem in putting their influence up “for rent”, meaning they will accept payment for spreading a message, even if it’s not something they’re 100% behind. What’s your position on this, and where do you draw the line?
(AJ): I will never put my name on or endorse a product if I don’t stand behind it. Doing so would completely destroy my credibility and my fans would see right through it.
(MM): When you create something for a mass retail purpose versus a personal tattoo for a client, is there a different creative approach?
(AJ): When my creative juices get flowing, whether it’s a tattoo or a design for retail purpose, I go into a zone and that’s where I’m comfortable. I don’t think much about the client or the final destination of the artwork.
(MM): What’s your next business venture and do you see social media playing a role in it or not?
(AJ): I recently launched the Ami James website and it’s already getting lots of traffic. Thanks to social media I’ve been able to get a decent following in a short period of time. I’m also working on a short film which has been a lot of fun making. Social media will definitely play a big role in keeping my fans tuned in.
(MM): All right Ami, enough for today. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.