How to Tattoo

Tattoos are no longer taboo! Engraved on everyone from soldiers to homecoming queens, you can find these works of art exhibited for the entire world to appreciate. Here's how to apply one.

Difficulty: Challenging


Things You'll Need:
- Tattoo machine
- Design display
- Shaver
- Thermo-fax
- Stencil material
- Variety of needle shapes and sizes
- Inks
- Sterilizing pads and bandages
- Autoclave sterilizing machine
- License

1). Work with the client to design the desired tattoo or offer a choice from your in-shop design display.

2). Place the design in the thermo-fax, a machine that transfers the pattern onto a stencil for easy application to the skin.

3). Shave the skin prior to applying the tattoo. Wash and sterilize the skin to decrease the danger of infection.

4). Wet the area to be tattooed and apply the stencil.

5). Outline pattern in black ink with a fine, circular needle.

6). Wash skin with soap and water and proceed to add the insoluble colors with thicker ink and different sized needles. "Flats" are used for shading, and "magnums" for color fill. There are three sizes of needles which tattoo artists use.

7). Clean the tattooed area and apply a sterilized bandage. Inform your client that it may bleed lightly for a short time. The bleeding can last from a few hours to a day.

8). Place tattoo machine, tubes and needles in an autoclave, which uses heat, steam and pressure for sterilization.

Tips & Warnings

Buy top quality inks and materials to ensure that your client gets the best tattoo.

If using single-use materials, make sure you open the package in full view of the client directly before using them.

The needle should penetrate only the epidermis, or outer layer of skin, and apply color to the dermis. It should penetrate approximately one millimeter. Make sure you do not penetrate too deeply, or the skin will bleed excessively and possibly scar.

Always wear rubber gloves when applying tattoos and keep your tattoo machine in a plastic wrapping to ensure a sterile atmosphere.

Make sure you conform to local licensing laws and regulations.

Rotarie Tattoo Machines

Rotary tattoo machines are quickly gaining the tattoo industries attention. Most rotary machines are very consistent and require less maintenance to operate. They also usually require some type of regular lubrication to keep parts running more efficiently.

Coil Tattoo Machines

Traditional Coil tattoo machines are the industry standard and have been the most popular in the industry for the past 80 years. They haven't changed much since the early tattoo models. There have been many attempts to modernize but mainly in cosmetic attributes.

Tattoo Machine Care

Coil Tattoo Machines require regular maintenance in tuning and replacing of parts. Like springs, capacitors and contact screws.
Rotary machines hardly need maintenance or replacing of parts. Rotary motors can need replacing after 30,000-50,000 hours.