Beginning to Tattoo: What Do You Need to Be a Tattoo Artist?
In this lesson, we will discuss what type of equipment you should have, and I'll try to explain some of the photographs I have provided. This is the first tattoo lesson, so if this your first time learning about tattooing, pay attention, because it is important to know how your equipment operates.
Necessary Equipment: Let's Check Your Gear
- Tattoo machine: A liner will be preferable for the first several lessons I will be giving. I am assuming that you all know the difference between a liner and shader. If you don’t, I will share the types of tattoo machines I use and some basic mechanics that will help you tattoo a hundred percent better.
- Power supply: If you have one from a kit, or you spent a little more change for one, settings on these things are an absolute must to have figured out. Tuning your machine correctly will help you manage the normal current you run through it, making it easier to adjust your power supply if you're tattooing at different locations and your equipment gets knocked around.
- Foot pedal: Your foot pedal is used to activate or terminate a current by simply pressing or lifting your foot on the device.
- Clip cord: This is the cord that connects your machine to your power supply, while the foot pedal activates or terminates the current that goes to your tattoo machine.
- Tattoo lining tube: Diamond shape dimension tubes are great for beginners, and people with plenty of experience seem to prefer them as well.
- Proper lining needle: I just use the standard bug pin tight needle grouping. It gives me a solid line every time. if you received a kit and are not sure what type of needles you have, just make sure that the liner grouping you are attempting to use is round in nature like the head of a pen. Not to be insulting if anyone else is annoyed, but some people need it spelled out.
- Two to three rubber bands: You'll also need to make sure you have at least two or three rubber bands that will fit snugly around the tattoo machine and holds your needle bar firmly in place. These allow for an excellent line while tattooing.
- Armature bar nipples: This is an essential part of the gear you need. Unless you understand the mechanical components of the machine and how the needle bar loop fits and functions, try to use these items, as they help establish great tattooed lines.
- Ink caps: for beginners, I suggest using the larger sized caps if you have different sized ones.
- Ink: Again, if you got a kit and are using non-brand name inks, do a little research, and give me some feedback on what types you are using. I can give you a thumbs up or down if I know the brand.
- A tub of Vaseline: You will use this on the skin during the tattoo process. It prevents the ink from sticking to the skin, allowing you to pay better attention to the linework or shading that you are doing.
- At least one cup of water: Sometimes you'll need up to three, depending on how extensive the lining or shading is.
- Plenty of paper towels: the best size towel is the 11x10-inch. It folds well into shapes you will value as you get really into the tattooing.
- Razors for shaving the area you will be tattooing: Some dudes are hairy (oh so scary), and at times you will need more than one. I use Schick’s double blade—I get a pack of 12 for about 2 or 3 bucks.
- Green soap solution: Most but not all kits will come with a green sop solution that you can reduce with spring or filtered water. City water out of your sink is ok too. Spray bottles are fine, and squirt bottles are about equal in my opinion. The only noticeable difference is that with a squirt bottle, you generally apply it to the paper towel you are going to wipe with (this gives you more control with where you are wiping) instead of over-spraying on an already-fading stencil—or spraying it into your buddy’s wife's face. I have done both, and I like the squirt bottle better.
- Alcohol water 50/50 mix: Make sure your alcohol is 70% or above for it to be an effective cleaner.
- Deodorant (Speed Stick): This is applied to the skin after it has been shaved to adhere a proper stencil. The alcohol in the deodorant evaporates, allowing the stencil to dry to the skin semi-permanently.
- Stencil: Do your best to use a stencil, when you are just starting out. This is a great technique that will build your confidence. Or, if you are freehanding, I have found that Sharpies work great in comparison to the more expensive skin scribes you can get from tattoo supply companies.
Be Safe and Have Fun
That is my overview of the necessary equipment used for in-home tattooing. Again, if you have questions, please post. I would like to hear positive feedback. I have tattooed professionally for more than seven years, and I am a self-taught tattoo artist.
The reason I am sharing this information is for those serious artists out there who have had no luck getting into a tattoo parlor. Well here is a great start. I have a lot of answers to the frustrating questions many new tattooists have. Thanks, and good luck
Questions & Answers
Are the whole tattoo kits worth starting with? What do you, the author of this article, think of self-tattooing as a good way of feeling/testing settings and getting to know the set up of a tattoo machine?
I have not found any kits that are good starter kits... I pieced everything together over time. Yes, I think self-tattooing is a good way to understand what you will be doing to others.Helpful 14
Why does so much ink come out when I'm tattooing? Does this have to do with the speed or the length my needle is popping out?
Usually, you can cure this with rubber bands, also check that the needle is in correctly.Helpful 6
© 2012 Jason Goodrow