Who does cosmetic tattooing?

A survey of dermatechnicians in 1996 revealed that over 70% were cosmetologists, electrologists and estheticians by training. Most cosmetic tattooing is performed in salons and some cosmetic surgeon’s offices. Physicians as a whole are not knowledgeable about cosmetic tattooing and many frown upon the practice as dangerous and unnecessary. This is due to the negative publicity as well as lack of training and competence of practitioners in this largely unregulated emerging profession.
Traditional tattoo machines have given way to lighter, quieter rotary machines and hand tools for permanent makeup practitioners. The Spaulding and Rogers PUMA Quick Change and Revolution II are favorites among experienced dermatechnicians. Lightweight, quiet rotary pens from Asia are popular and less intimidating to many new students of permanent makeup. And tools for the hand method have been refined by SofTap, Inc. and Dermigi-aphics, Inc., both California companies. Proficiency in the use of traditional tattoo machines, rotary machines and hand tools provides the dermatechnician with the skill and ability to do beautiful work in a variety of challenging situations. Do not try to cut corners when purchasing your equipment. Get the best quality machines and needles for the best result.

Many practitioners are unaware of needle sizes and groupings. Those trained on Asian “pen” machines have never used a flat or magnum or oval needle configuration. And tattoo artists are few and far between in this field of permanent makeup as they are not allowed to tattoo above the neck in many states. There is little mingling between the two camps of artists. Permanent makeup technicians can and do learn a wealth of information from traditional tattoo artists. But most cosmetic tattooists are reluctant to approach, or have been unsuccessful when seeking training by a seasoned tattoo artist.

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A good idea is to visit other tattoo studios

A door leading off the waiting room gives access to the booth where the equipment and table is set-up and where the actual tattooing is done. If you have windows in the wall so that customers can watch you work, have curtains on the inside that can be drawn as women usually prefer to have their tattoos done privately.

A door at the back of the tattoo booth gives way to the workshop. This is where the tools are kept, and the equipment maintained. Here, there should be a sturdy workbench with a good vise with replaceable three or four inch jaws. Get the best quality vise you can afford, you’ll be glad you did later.
Keep the soldering outfit and all the tools here. The variety and quantity of tools required depends upon whether you buy parts, etc., from tattoo supply houses or make your own. This should be kept locked when not in use.
To really form the best conclusion about shop layout, it’s a good idea to visit a few and see how all the tattooists set-up their own. Everyone sets up a little different. Once you’ve learned the basics, it’s up to experience and personal preference to determine what suits you best.

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Drunks and Other Considerations on tattoo aids

Unless you are into self-punishment and frustration, please don’t tattoo drunk customers. It is all right if someone has had one or two beers, but if they can hardly stand up and are endlessly babbling on, you will have to firmly and politely inform them that you will do their tattoo at another time and they have to quietly leave. End of discussion. Don’t stand there arguing with them as to whether they are sober or not. The truth of the matter is that you just cannot do a decent tattoo on a drunk person. This holds true also for people that are on drugs and pill abusers. If people won’t respect you and your work, come in bombed or drugged out expecting you to put up with obnoxious behavior, just guide them to the door and walk them out. Even better is to stop them at the door before they even enter, if their situation is that plain to you.
You should also absolutely refuse to tattoo people with obvious signs of sickness or disease such as hepatitis or yellow jaundice. The tell tale signs of people with this is that the white of their eyes are yellowed and their skin has an unnatural yellowlike suntan look to it. Tell them that their money would be more wisely spent seeing a doctor. You cannot afford to expose yourself, your family, other reliable customers, your shop and equipment to diseases. Their blood is contaminated and their bodies are in no condition to have the extra burden of healing a tattoo. Quite often you will have to work on people who bleed profusely. This is really difficult because the ink is being washed out almost as fast as it is going in and can be really frustrating. Just get through it the best you can, they may have to return after healing for a touch-up. Advise them to avoid drinking alcohol and eat large quantities of jello for several days before returning. Jello is a source of Vitamin K, which is an excellent blood coagulant.
It is wise to have handy the local ambulance phone number, just in case of the rare occasions that may be beyond your help, such as epileptic seizures, etc.
As a professional tattooist, part of your role is to help people make it through the ordeal. For some, it is their personal Independence Day, and for some, it could be a great celebration for some reason or other. If a person is having a rough time dealing with it, you should help them through it without putting them down or getting them nervous because you think they are wasting your precious time. If you are going to do a tattoo on someone, make sure you are going to give it your full attention and give it and the person whatever time they require.

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Tattoo Review

Let us review all the tattooing procedures you have learned up to this point. In an organized order, go over a mock tattoo schedule from start to finish. This will tie in. all of the tasAv-Tiqyxesm some sort oitogicaV order so you can understand where they all fit.
A customer has just walked in, and just for the sake of this explanation, let’s say they would like a tattoo on their upper arm. After briefly talking to them about designs and which one they will prefer, let’s assume one is chosen and agreed upon. The price is understood and paid for, and the release form is signed. (See Chapter on Shop Practices). If they wish it on their left side, they would be seated in front of you with their back to the work table. If it was in the same position on the right arm, they would be turned around and be facing the table.
The topic of body positioning should be stressed here. The relationship of the customer’s position in regard to your own should be considered beforehand. One inch either way can really slow you down and make your work awkward. Once the customer is sitting, move yourself around to find a comfortable and steady position to work from.
In conjunction with the Chapter on “Sterile Techniques,” clean your hands thoroughly as described. Take a paper towel and place it on the table. Place a clean ink cap holder on the towel. Remove a tongue depressor from a jar with a lid on it and lift out a liberal scoop of Carbolated Vaseline and place it on the towel (you may also use the individual packets of Vaseline if you choose, instead). Now is the time to “prep” the area on the arm that is to receive the tattoo. After the “prep” job and the skin is drying for a few minutes, so as to become tacky for the stencil, now you may remove an outliner tube and needle bar from a wrapper and put together the unit, following closely the assembly steps found in “Tube Setting.” Put this unit aside and set-up a shading machine. Decide beforehand what stencil method suits you best and prepare the design stencil. Have the customer sit up straight and let the arm hang loose in a relaxed position. Properly apply the stencil in the desired position (go back and read Stencil Chapter). After it is applied and you and the customer are satisfied with its location, clean the stencil (if acetate) and dry it for filing. Take the lamp and adjust it so the light shines on the arm and works to your best advantage. Fill the cap holder (should hold at least four) with clean caps, one cap for each color anticipated and black, and carefully fill one with black tattoo ink from a sterile bottle with a pouring spout on it.

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Outlining. An important aspect of a good tattoo

Outlining by itself just might be the single most important aspect of a good tattoo. It takes special attention and concentration while performing. A cleancut line done with confidence displays professionalism and is the solid foundation for a great tattoo. The world’s greatest foundation is useless if the bricks are faulty, and the greatest quality outline is only as good as the pattern. In other words, as important as good outlining is, the outline itself is only as good as the line on the stencil. So, the first important step in outlining is taking the time to make the best possible stencil that can be made. Keep the stencil simple. In the case of a complicated design, use only the major outlines to establish the design and the other detail type lines can be added later by freehand.
Assuming the preparation of the skin has just been finished and the area of the design is lightly coated with carbolated vaseline (see Chapter on Sterile Techniques first), just the design and not too much beyond it, so the hand won’t slip around and the bridges will be more stable. The first real step is to fill the reservoir of the machine tip with black tattoo ink. To do this property, the machine should not be running and lightly dip the tip into an ink cap holding black ink. Careful pains must be taken not to touch any surface of the cap with the needle tip. The end of the tube will fill up. This supply of ink does not last very long and must be frequently dipped back into the cap for a refill. Run the machine over a paper tissue to test the ink flow. If the machine spurts and spits out ink, stop it for an adjustment. (Check Chapter on Machine Setting). Usually adjustment of the bands will correct the problem.
Always tattoo either forward or sideways with the machine. Outlines and shading both are done like this. In this direction, the needles have a slight backward pressure on them against the skin, which keeps the needles in the bottom of the tube where the ink is. Rubber bands keep this position in check, but tattooing in this direction keeps the needles working where they belong and does not work against the natural function of the machine. It makes nice tattooing easier. Using a square tip tube is a plus.
Outlining is done from the bottom up, since sweat, blood and ink run down, it makes sense to start at the bottom to avoid smudging while working up. Since wiping the area continuously while doing the tattoo will remove the stencil, starting in the bottom position will prevent this.

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The Tattooist. Prior to applying a tattoo

After your client has chosen a design tattoo and you have come to terms, accept the payment and fill him/her out a receipt. Have them sign a disclaimer (explained in a later chapter). Wash your hands using a good grade hospital approved soap (tincture of green soap, betadine) and a brush. Scrub, don’t just wash, up to the elbows paying close attention to the nails and skin folds at the finger joints, etc. Rinse under running water. Put on your latex gloves, proceed to the work area and assemble your machines. Place the assembled machines in a tube rack that contains a solution of Benz-all until needed.

Pour a small sterile basin (1 qt.) about 1/2 full of sterile, distilled water (HOH). Remember to keep the inside of the cap pointing up when you remove it from the bottle. Recap the bottle and place it out of the way. Assemble what equipment will be used for the tattoo and replace the table cover over the remaiivmg.
Remove 12 4″x4″ gauze pads from a 2 qt. sterile, covered stainless can with a pair of pick up forceps (set in about 2″ of Benz-all) and place them on the table. These pads can be prepackaged in Kraft paper or a sealed plastic bag and autoclaved. Fold 2 4×4’s as shown in figure 3 and hold them as shown in figure 4 to form a scrubber.

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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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Five needle liners on tattoo machines

Five needle liners, with one exception, are made exactly the same way. Obviously, you will use a five needle jig when tacking them and the five needle head on the needle bar jig and will use the #5 holes for tightening, but the basic process is the same. The exception is the way the five needle group is placed together. The odd needle is in the center of the group. Put them together with your fingers and work them into proper position in the five needle jig before tacking. 14 needle round shaders are done as shaders on shader bars. Use the appropriate jigs. Single needle liner bars are done quite similar as three needle liner bars with a few differences. Only one good needle and two filed bad ones are used. The two bad ones act as a support for the otherwise good but flimsy single needle. When placed in the needle jig, line them up on the shelf just like the regular three needle and tack it. When you remove them, separate the needles slightly in your hand and with a pair of cutters, clip off about 1/4 inch of needle on each end of the bad ones, which leaves the good point sticking out about 1/4 inch from the other two.

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The contact point of the machine

Next, line up the contact point in a direct line over the nipple on the armature bar and tighten. Then line up the contact point on the front spring in a direct line with the contact screw. The rear spring should be snug against the rear screw in most cases. Tighten rear screw. The contact screw points to One o’clock, when you hold up the machine and point the front (tube end) to your left. It is in this position when it is new, and should stay in this position.
Attach the clip cord to your machine and turn on your power pack. Holding the machine firmly in your left hand by the frame, slowly turn the contact screw down (clockwise) to meet the contact point on the front spring. Be careful to only touch the contact screw by the rubber tip or it will shock you. If the rubber tip is missing, you can wrap a piece of electrical tape around the end, or even a rubber band in an emergency.

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Some privacy for tattooing women

Some women would like to have a little privacy, so it is a good idea to keep a spare tube top handy for them, so they don’t get any ink on their clothes. Many women will ask for a private session for more privacy.

An office chair on wheels can be used to move around easily to get in different positions. It may or may not have arms on it, has an adjustable back rest and the height should be adjustable also. Armrests work good for steadying the hand while tattooing.
A folding chair can be used for the customer to sit in. A front rail between the two front legs makes a good foot brace for the tattoo artist when working on an ama tattoo. Some like to work off their lap and find it handy to brace elbows on their leg while doing a bicep, forearm or ankle.
To do a back piece, have them sit facing the back of the folding chair with one leg through the opening in the back so they don’t have to spread their legs so far apart. This position is easier for the artist as long as the tattoo is on the upper part of the back. A pillow under the Customer’s arms draped over the back of the chair will make it more comfortable. If the piece is too low down on the back to do comfort-ably in a sitting position, lay them down on a weight bench. The weight bench works well for chest pieces, stomachs, legs and backsides. You should move the customer where you can reach them best, and still have the ink, sprays and paper towels within easy reach. Then adjust the light so you can see well.
This Outline is a basic set-up to get you started. It is the duty of every tattooist to familiarize themselves with this, then take over where this chapter has left off, customizing the área to suit their own needs.

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