Tattoo Business practices

Before even starting in the tattooing business, the material in this chapter should be given some serious thought. For example, how will you ever start tattooing if perhaps it is against the law in your community? Since it is a tattooing career that you wish to make it in, it would be smart to make sure no authorities will visit you and permanently shut you down. Whether doing business at home or at a shop (which will be the eventual goal), certain local and state ordinances should be looked into in depth.
The first step would be for you to investigate into the local laws at City Hall to see whether there are any conflicts with what you plan to do, and meet what they require on this subject. This also should involve a visit to the Sheriffs Department to check on other requirements and law stipulations. A trip there should be on your schedule regardless, just to clear things up like zoning and businesses.
Another important place to go see would be the Health Department to find out what they require. Be prepared to answer their questions like a pro. Knowing all the information in this site down pat would be an excellent start, and you should practice all the information in this book too, like a professional. Meet all the regulations that are required of you. You want to set up a respectable and permanent business and not be a gypsy outlaw. State, local and health laws vary greatly, so be sure to check them out and any other establishments that they point you to.
There are some other things to consider also, about other general business practices.
Before diving right into a shop, you better know exactly what makes up a legal shop and be prepared to meet those requirements. Also, some knowledge on real estate would help, so you don’t get stuck paying off a shop you can’t use. Look up zoning laws to be sure you can tattoo in the area. Once the shop is located and the deal is going through, it is wise to have business insurance on your shop and your equipment. In case of fire, theft or accident, you will be covered. If you are not covered, it could cost you the shop. An insurance policy is a small price to pay to be protected today.

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Advices for taking care of the tatttoos

Do not pick any scabs, no matter how tempting. Let them fall off naturally. Even if it is just hanging there, do not touch it. The part that is not hanging there is still healing and if picked, it will bleed, making a faded spot that will stand out. They have got to take it easy on a fresh tattoo.
New tattoos itch while they are healing. Hitting the tattoo with a quick slap will usually stop the itching. Sometimes wiping it with a little rubbing alcohol will relieve it.

It must be explained that a new tattoo will look flaky and gross looking for the first week. After the scab falls off, there is going to be a white scaly layer on top of the tattoo. This is dead skin and it will peel off in a couple of days. Sometimes by rubbing a little Vitamin E on it, will improve its looks.
Sunlight is not too great for a tattoo and exposure should be avoided for a few months, if possible. You want the color in it to remain bright and sunlight will bleach it out. Black tattoos are all right in the sun, but colored ones are a little more touchy and need to be babied. A high number sunscreen may help, but some lotions containing PABA may aggravate the tattoo. Color tattoos must settle in, and the sun just helps to age them very quickly.

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Applying color to a tattoo

When applying color to a tattoo, puddles of ink will get all over the skin, sometimes totally obscuring the outline. It’s not good to be in such a hurry as to not take the time to continually wipe the excess away. Tattoos are ruined by running the color over the outline. By continually wiping away all the excess color, strict attention can be paid to what one is doing and where one is going. When inspecting work in progress, the skin must be stretched tight (as if tattooing) so any mistakes will be readily picked up. If the color is solid when the skin is stretched, it will be solid when relaxed in a normal position.
If the area that is to be a solid color has skin showing through, (it is not solid, but is sketchy looking and has pockets of skin that aren’t colored) something must be done to correct this problem. The easiest solution is that the tattooing circles are not small enough. Make littler circles, cover a smaller area and slow down a bit. Another reason is that the needles are not in contact with the skin at all times. This means that in all the tattooing excitement, the machine is not kept steady and the needles are being lifted up off the skin in some areas. This doesn’t mean to press harder, but to just keep the needles in the skin. Let the machine sink the needles, you keep the machine in line. Another reason for open pockets in the coloring is that the color itself was not properly mixed. Be sure to shake the bottles of ink good before using. This will maintain an even color value within the bottle. Stick to the small flowing circles, letting the machine take care of the tattooing and good results will be obtained. When you come across tiny areas that can’t be done with a shader, use a three or five needle outliner.

For the coloring process, the needle tips should hang out of the tube end just so you can feel them and ought to extend out of the tube around 1/16 inch when the machine is running. This setting will keep the color flowing in but won’t really plow into the skin. Over zealous tattooers can get carried away and this machine setting is extra insurance against scarring and bleeding. Later on in your career, the setting can be changed to a longer stroke, but only when the feel of coloring is totally familiar and confidence is assured that you have everything under control.

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Make contact with the skin before being tattooing

If you are working on an arm or a leg, grasp the back of it.  Squeeze firmly, but not so tight as to cramp your hand or bruise the more sensitive person.

If you are working on a back, chest, breast or bottom or somewhere where you can’t grab the back of it to stretch, you will have to stretch it with your free hand. You do this by cradling the tattoo area between the “V” formed between the thumb and the forefinger. Make contact with as much finger skin on the area as possible to make more “drag” to hold the skin better.

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Making needle bars on tattoo machines

Needle making is an art and science in itself. It is not just some process that is performed, but an acquired skill to perfect. You want to make your own needles to be strong, but to achieve a high level of skill in this field, the technique has to be practiced over and over again through the course of many months. Just like anything in life, the more you do something, the better at it you become. This is very true with needle making. It can become really frustrating at first and it seems you will never get it right. This is the time not to quit, but to just keep trying. Stick at it, and eventually you will be making needle bars as good as, or better than the ones you get from your supplier.
The following equipment is needed for making needle bars:
Solder Gun: A good one with a pistol grip for easy maneuvering, and developing
a lot of heat quickly. Solder Flux and Solder: This must be stainless steel flux and solder for soldering
stainless steel needles and bars. Absolutely nothing else. Tinning Fluid: For tinning the tip of the solder gun so you don’t burn the tip
through from high heat. Stainless Steel Shader and Liner Bars: To accept needle groups. Needles: Stainless Steel Sharps #12 needles. Eye Loupe: The highest power of best quality. A 15 or 20 power loupe is recom
mended. Needle Jigs: A great time saving device. These are manufactured (at the time of this writing) by only Spaulding & Rogers Mfg., Inc., others are copies. Clippers: Small pliers for wire cutting. File: Small file assortment (jewelers) Stones: Sharpening stone, around 1″ x 1/4″ x 3″. Plastic Aligner: Make yourself. 1 square inch x 1/4 inch.
This equipment is not stored out in the tattoo shop but in the back room or at home. Keep it somewhere quiet where you can concentrate on what you are doing. Once you get going, you will most likely tattoo all week long, and on Sundays or free nights, make your needles for the upcoming week. You are going to be making a lot of them, about a week’s supply or more at one time.
Before even starting, following the suggestions of the previous chapter on needles, you should have a good supply of needle bars (both liners and shaders) already on hand.
The pre-manufactured needle bars should be examined very carefully. Study them to see how they sit on bars, how the needles are soldered, which side is soldered and all the small details like arrangement of needles and order of grouping, etc. Before you begin, read this entire chapter several times and try to perform all of the steps in your head as you go along so you have some idea of what you are trying to do.

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Setting tattoo machines. Continue..

After continued use, the front spring that holds the contact point and the back spring that holds the armature bar to the frame will weaken and should be replaced. If your coloring is getting sketchy, it could be weak springs; one or both of them. If they are weak, they won’t have enough bounce to penetrate the skin anymore and are springing back before any depth is attained. Before removing spring and armature bar, put a mark on the side of the armature bar and continue the mark across the center of the washer on top of the front coil. (See Diagram.) After you have made your repairs, be sure both marks line up when replacing the armature bar. This is important because the armature bar has been seated in on the top of the front coil and should go back in the exact same place for top performance of your machine.
To replace the springs, take needle and bands off, loosen the set screw on the front binding post and back the contact screw out four or five turns. Then loosen the rear screw on top of the machine and remove the entire assembly consisting of the rear spring, the armature bar and the front (contact) spring.
Remove the screw that is holding both springs to the armature bar. First, put the screw back in the hole in the rear spring and start it into the armature bar. Make sure you still have both washers on the screw, on top, above the springs. Next, put on the front spring, placing it on top of the rear spring and under both washers. This front spring will just slide on the screw. Tighten finger tight. Before replacing assembly, take this opportunity to buff your contact screw, removing any pits.
To replace the assembly, slide the rear spring under the loosened rear screw, making sure the rear spring is back all the way against the screw and under both washers. Tighten finger tight.

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