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Everything You Need To Know To Start Tattooing

Everything You Need To Know To Start Tattooing

Posted by Rob Smead on Sep 22nd 2021

Are you wanting to open a tattoo shop or find out what you need to begin tattooing? The information covered in this article will pinpoint tips, tricks, and quality products you will need to have to start your tattoo career. Many people may find it confusing and overwhelming to begin tattooing. After reading this article, you will be prepared and equipped with the knowledge to gather the tools needed to start your tattoo journey successfully! A comprehensive tattoo artist checklist, supplies for beginners, and everything you need to start tattooing is covered below!

What You Need To Start Tattooing

Many people think of a tattoo machine and ink when they think of tattoo artist tools. There is quite a bit more to it than that, though! The two essential pieces of equipment you will need right away are the tattoo machine and the tattoo chair. As an artist new to tattooing, you want to find a tattoo machine and chair that fits your budget and has professional quality.

The tattoo machines themselves have three versions. There is a tattoo machine for lining, black and grey shading, and coloring. The color tattoo machine may not be as important to you as the first two when you start. Lining and shading are the main aspects of all tattoos, so those machines are purchased first and foremost. The devices come in different material choices. The four materials you will likely see when shopping around are copper, steel, iron, and aluminum.

For a new tattoo artist, the steel and aluminum machines are a better choice. They are lighter, so you can practice the motions with the machines, and they're more manageable than those made from heavier metals. It would be best if you also decided between rotary or coil machines. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, so take a look at that information and determine what's best for you.

Different Tattoo Machines

Rotary and coil machines are the most common, but there is also a pneumatic tattoo machine that combines rotary and coil mechanisms to give you a choice within the same unit, and you can use it for anything from line work to shading. It is a higher priced machine and uses an air compressor for tattooing. It's designed for hands and looks like a pen. The pneumatic tattoo machine is lightweight and easy to clean. With this machine, you can combine sketching, blending, and creating soft grays with a single machine. However, for a beginner this option is not often the first purchase because of its advanced features.

The rotary machine is excellent for starting out because it's quiet and gentle on the skin compared to a coil machine. Rotary machines are also relatively lighter to hold, letting you learn the movements and strokes of a tattoo artist. Using this machine for shading and line work is a bit more difficult because of how soft it touches the skin, but it does well at being used for both, eliminating the need for two different machines right away when you are starting.

The other option is a coil tattoo machine. The coil machine is the most common amongst tattoo artists, and you most likely will recognize it when getting a tattoo because of its distinctive buzz during the process. Within coil machine choices, you also have different machine versions for what you need to do. There are coil machines dedicated to lines, shading and color. It also creates better lines and smoother shading than the previous models we discussed.

Coil machines also give you more control and can be modified to your liking. They work better with a more considerable-sized needle choice, though. Maintenance is relatively low on coil machines compared to a rotary tattoo machine, but it is a bit larger to hold. Different tattoos will require different types of coil machines to create the best possible artwork. Below we will cover the three other coil tattoo machines to look at.

Types of Coil Machines

Linear Tattoo Machine: These models are used only for dominant outlines or just line work tattoos. They create outlines quickly but don't penetrate the skin enough to make an actual tattoo design.

Shade Tattoo Machine: These are ideal for creating professional shading and black tattoo artwork. Because of the long armature, it penetrates deeper into the skin.

Color Packer Tattoo Machine: Filling in color is the prominent use of this tattoo machine. When someone you are tattooing wants a high pigment color, they will be happy you chose this for your color tattoo machine. The machine goes deep into the skin and provides precise and consistent results.

To pinpoint which of these tattoo machines will both fit your budget and skill level, after learning about each version's pros and cons, find the type of model that best suits you, then read reviews on the top brands of that model. Not only does the kind of tattoo machine matter, whether you are a beginner or a professional, but the brand quality of the unit will matter too.

Tattoo Artist Chairs

When you are pursuing chairs for tattooing, comfortability needs to be at the forefront of your decision. The client who is getting the tattoo needs to remain comfortable during the entire process. As the artist, you need to contort to different angles with ease while staying comfortable. You will need to find a chair with multiple reclining features for the client, and a comfortable stool for you, the tattoo artist.

When you are looking for a stool, only the best and most comfortable will work. You will be spending many long hours sitting during a session, so this piece of equipment needs to be high quality. For beginners, a high-quality stool and client chair is among the essential and most expensive elements of your tattoo setup to purchase, besides the actual tattoo machines. The client and artist chairs should not be on the lower end of your budget decisions when deciding what you need to start tattooing.

If you deprive yourself of a comfortable chair, you will develop back and neck pain and won't focus on each client's request to the best of your ability. In turn, you will not create professional works of art if your body is stressing out from the pain of not having a comfortable chair or stool. Do the research needed and find the perfect chair for your setup so your clients will have no problem sitting or laying in the chair for hours while you work.

Newer tattoo artist chairs are perfect for what you need to start tattooing. They have memory foam, silky leather and are easy to disinfect between clients.

Power Supplies and Foot Pedals

Even though tattoo machines can run off their power, having a power supply speeds up the process and maintains a steady workflow. Choosing the proper power supply that controls the electricity from the power unit to your tattoo device is vital so you don't get unregulated voltage sent to your machine. Decide on the correct power supply type with a quality foot pedal that accents your chosen methods for tattoo designs and techniques. Make sure to select the best possible foot pedal that is in your budget.

Your machine will have a recommendation for a range of voltage, which determines which power supply lineup to choose from. Depending on how many tattoo machines you go with when getting everything you need to start tattooing, you need to make sure the power supply can handle multiple units plugged in simultaneously.

The foot pedal has a few different choices that you will want to pay attention to, so you can choose one that benefits your style. There are foot pedals that have to have pressure applied constantly to keep the tattoo machine on. Other pedals have an on and off switch. A quality foot pedal controls the tattoo machine needles' vertical movement.

Tattoo Ink

When it comes to the ink and the variety you can purchase, it is wise to start with a wide range or a complete set of colors. Giving yourself the ability to broaden your client's artwork choices by providing them with a full set of color options will help you grow as a tattoo artist. When choosing your ink, remember that different companies and the ages ink will have different consistencies.

Other brands will also have different pigments. Take your time and choose a brand that will suit your needs when just beginning your tattoo career. Don't be afraid to purchase different companies' inks with divergent pigments and consistencies. Having a varied set not only solidifies the variants you like best but allows the client to have broader choices in their color spectrum for their tattoo.

When deciding on your first ink kits, consider a few things.

  • Comprehensive Color Options: Customers have a wide range of interests, so keep your colors broad and in stock
  • Higher-Quality Ink: Higher-quality ink tends to be more vibrant and last long on the skin
  • Ink Caps: Top brands that are known for quality must have caps on them. The caps also help give a more professional look to your setup.

Tattoo ink caps are essential since they provide quick clean-up and hold the ink you are currently using on the client. Storage and convenience are just a couple of the perks as a beginning tattoo artist that ink caps provide.

Tattoo Needles

When it comes to needles, you have a range of choices, and they can add up quickly. Depending on your budget, you may want to look at single-use needles. If your budget allows you to get a range of needles and sanitizer supplies to clean them, you will have more options for ink distribution. Having an array of needles will allow professional-style work on a multitude of different types of tattoos. There are six basic classes of needles:

  • Round Liner Needles: Round liner needles produce crisp and clear line work. The size of the needle determines the thickness of the line — the bigger the number, the thicker the line. These needles are suitable for script, lettering, tribal, Samoan, and other line-dominant tattoos.
  • Round Shader Needles: Round shader needles are commonly a choice for doing thick lines and basic shading in tattoos.
  • Magnum Shader Needles: Magnum shader needles can hold a lot of ink, and you will use them for large areas of coloring and shading
  • Curved Magnum Shader Needles: Curved magnum shader needles are perfect in your tattooing arsenal for soft shading sections and consistent dispersal of ink for lines.
  • Double Stack Magnum Shader Needles: Double stack magnum shader needles will be your go-to needle for intricate color or line work.
  • Flat Shader Needles: Flat shader needles are perfect for line work, creating more apparent darker lines than other needles.

Sanitizer and Other Supplies

Tubes and tips for your needles help keep your equipment in good condition and help with the ease of cleaning your needles. It's beneficial to locate quality tubes and tips that won't damage your needles. The tubes hold the needle in its place and provide support for the needle as it penetrates the skin. Some beginners will overlook this small piece, but it is essential to have these in your tattoo supplies.

An autoclave sterilizer is one of many different sterilizing solutions you will want to have in your cleaning kit. You will want gloves, sterilizing ointments, and quite a few other solutions and accessories for keeping your equipment clean in between customers. You will also want to get a set of disposable razors for shaving customers before beginning the tattoo process. Antiseptic pads for aftercare and to help keep the work area on the body clean are another couple of essential items not to disregard. 

Start Ordering Your Supplies Today!

Gathering all the items needed in a tattoo artist checklist for a proper beginning to your career has never been less daunting than now. Having gained the knowledge and awareness of the different types of needles and tattoo machines, you are ready to start browsing online and begin putting your kit together! You will find everything you need from needles, machines, chairs, sanitizing solutions, and other accessories at Electrum Supply. Everything you need to start tattooing is at your fingertips and just a few clicks away! What will your first tattoo be?