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Contour improves the workflow and comfort experience for tattoo artists and tattoo clients using unique technologies and innovative ways to tattoo.

  • A family of products that improves the workflow and comfort experience in tattoo workstations.

  • This video displays how some of Contour's main features work along with the solution benefits.

    This video displays how some of Contour's main features work along with the solution benefits.

  • Contour is a solution that can adapt seamlessly to multiple tattooing positions.

  • Contour's ergonomic chainmail mesh inspired by engineers at Caltech University.

  • Some of Contour's features including the gesture-controlled Reference Screen.

  • Design development including an in-person observation, sketches, and an ergonomic schematic.

What it does

Contour counteracts tattoo artists’ ergonomic sacrifices with an adaptable and customizable workstation. Contour is a family of four products that can adjust in height, length, and angle to fit between the 5th percentile female to 95th percentile male.

Your inspiration

Tattoo artists are professionals that work in niche environments and experience musculoskeletal pain from their intense working conditions. This understudied group of workers have few options with tattoo furniture that works together cohesively and often must resort to borrowing from other industries. With a personal passion for the tattoo industry, it was shocking to see how few scholarly articles and researched information is provided about tattoo artists’ experiences and their work-related injuries. Further research made it clear that a new system of products dedicated to their practice was a necessary gap missing in today’s market.

How it works

The Client Bed can adjust in length, height, and angle using a Wi-Fi-connected phone app. This bed features an ergonomic chainmail mesh inspired by engineers at Caltech University. This chainmail is inserted in between plastic pockets on the bed with a spine of connected fans and shared air supply to control the air within the pockets. This contraction or release of air affects the chainmail’s response and creates varying degrees of support depending on the client’s body. The Artist’s Chair has the same adjustable chainmail mesh on the seat. This chair has a spring-loaded backrest that provides front or back support and can extend into a perch stance for more control. The Reference Screen and Light offers live, top-down feedback of what the artist is seeing. The goal of this design was to counteract the way that artists are constantly leaning forward, alleviating their back and neck pain.

Design process

Contour is the result of researching an understudied topic and developing user-driven solutions. After information was discovered through scholarly articles, online resources, and video observations, user interviews were conducted and an in-person observation of someone getting tattooed. This process showed some of the main problem areas that tattoo artists experience such as inaccessible equipment, physical and mental strain, and ergonomic sacrifice. Several prototypes were made throughout the iterative process, including a 1:1 ergonomic buck where it was discovered that the screen height had to be above the ergonomic recommendation in order for the tattoo artist to see above the person on the client bed. Furthermore, the dimensions for the back of the chair were referenced using chair ergonomics, although when in the bed format, it was noted that the client’s hands fell off the sides and would need more room than expected. The design development phase continued using free-hand sketching and scaled sketch models with feedback from mentors and peers. Afterwards, the design was brought into SolidWorks to be modelled using multiple assemblies and rendered in KeyShot. Consideration was put into displaying Contour graphically alongside the final presentation model in 1:5 scale.

How it is different

On the market currently, tattoo artists do not have the option to purchase curated, all-in-one sets of furniture to occupy their tattoo workstations and instead must piece together their workspace with limited options. Contour can work together seamlessly and fully cater to the various positions of the tattoo artist and tattoo client. With full ergonomic adjustment both with the physical components and the chainmail mesh, the tattoo artist has the freedom to choose how they want to tattoo. Introducing the Reference Screen into the tattoo artist's space gives them new ways to tattoo and integrate technology into their workflow. This screen allows them to preview tattoo session length using stencil data connected to their digital tablet, preview stencils on the body prior to the session, and record for social media - all with a tunable light source. These features are currently not on the market, especially not integrated all into one beneficial system.

Future plans

The goal of this design was to improve the future for tattoo artists and tattoo clients with a durable system that can evolve with them and their practice. The ergonomic chainmail mesh and motors/mechanisms using Wi-Fi connectivity could be further researched. Prototyping to understand the vacuum-ability of the plastic pockets and their relationship with the chainmail would be beneficial. It would also be important to experiment with the material selection to ensure sterility and flexibility where necessary. User testing prototypes, particularly the learning curve that may come with the Reference Screen, would also be essential.


2023 Top Marks in Thesis: Humber College ITAL, 2023 ACIDO Rocket Show Contestant, CAD Modelling Honorable Mention: Humber College ITAL

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