Tattoo Business Procedures

Just in case you don’t think you can handle all this on your own, employ the services of a good local attorney. He will always know people in the right places and whom to contact for the information you require. Let him do the leg work, after all, that’s what you will be paying him for and he won’t get the run around as you might get in some instances.
Always keep a receipt for all of the work that you do. Even for the smallest tattoo or whatever services you render. Remember that you are self-employed and you have to pay taxes. A course on bookkeeping would be practical in addition, just to keep your head on straight. There are a lot of deductions a business person can legally make, and one book on small business and another on tax information (from the I.R.S.) is a must. You have to know what you are doing here. It is not as complicated as you might think, but it is absolutely necessary to understand these things if you are going to survive as a self-employed business person.
One more thought about insurance. Today is the day of the lawsuit. People are very excited about getting a tattoo and will brag about them and pay large sums of money for them. But if something ever goes wrong, these same people will not give it a second thought to turn around and sue you right out of business. Some type of thought should be given to protect yourself from this ever happening. This type of protection is called the “trade release form.” This is a legally binding piece of paper between you and your customer, waiving any kind of responsibility on your part for damages or lawsuits of any kind after they leave the shop. It must be signed before you commence tattooing. An example of such a sheet is included at the end of this chapter. It should not be directly copied, it is just an example. Since it is such a great legal document, it is up to the tattooist and his lawyer to make one up. The price paid for this paper is worth it. Once made up, it will last you forever. Just have them copied or printed in quantities. Basically, the release form will cover topics like age and physical requirements, it will release you from liability from lawsuits and damages after the visit and anything else you and your lawyer can think up to protect yourself and keep yourself covered at all times. If a person takes one step into your shop and trips and falls and chips his teeth, you just might be liable (this even before the signing of the release). A sign “Enter at your own risk” in front of the store is at least some kind of coverage releasing you from a possible lawsuit. This kind of “insurance” is a must to have, but remember, it still does not release you from your responsibility. You owe it to everyone to do your best. You must ioW.ow ail the procedures in this site such as bandages and sterilization techniques and it is your responsibility to see to it that you perform them.

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Tattoo color sequence

Every time a different color or shade is used, the tube and needles of the machine must be thoroughly cleaned. Haphazardly dipping into colors can’t be chanced because sloppy and muddy mixes will be the result. The only way just pure color can be obtained is to have 100 percent clean needles and tubes each time. Clean out the tube between colors by running the machine under hot water until the machine basically washes itself clean. Be sure to run the needles across a tissue in reverse motion to remove all excess water from the tube tip. Never do this in a forward motion because it will pick up pieces of paper tissue between the needles. Get in the habit of doing this every time in between color applications and it will ensure good clean color tones. After completing every color on a customer, spray the area with a green soap spray, wash and apply over the area a thin coat of Vaseline. The Vaseline will fill some pores and keep other colors from entering the holes and spoiling the color.
When putting in color, a certain sequence must be followed in order for a tattoo to come out the best possible. If it is not followed, muddy mixtures will appear, clouding up the tattoo and spoiling it with dull tones. The basics for the sequence are simple. Colors must be applied from the darkest tones to the lighter ones. This is why black shading is the first thing done after the outline. All solid black and the black shading is the darkest color and must be applied first. The color sequence after this is as follows: 1) Dark purple. 2) Blues. 3) Greens. 4) Light Purple. 5) Browns. 6) Reds. 7) Orange. 8) Yellow. 9) White.

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The process of coloring tattoos

The actual process of coloring a tattoo is a relatively simple one if you always remember and apply a few key rules and regularly practice them. The technique is the same for solid black tattooing as it is for solid coloring. Actually, black tattooing is a little easier as black ink seems more readily accepted by the skin than colored ink. The motion is a circular one, and coloring a tattoo is done in small circular steps, a little at a time. If a constant pace is maintained, a lot of area can be covered in a small amount of time. Each circle just barely overlapping the last circle until the areas are covered solid in just two sweeps. Never do an area more than once or twice over. Just small, constant, flowing circles covers an area smooth and efficiently, and always working off the tips of the needles.

Don’t press hard and don’t stay in one area repeatedly crisscrossing or try to color the skin in like with a crayon or pencil. This will turn the skin to hamburger and create a bad scab or possibly, leave scars, the ultimate error. While the needles are in contact with the skin, keep the machine moving, never hold it still or that will cut the skin. Don’t go back over any work just done. Get it right the first sweep through. It will look better with the fewest amount of holes in the skin. The more holes, the more bleeding, the more scabbing, and the more ink will be absorbed out in the scab. “Packing it in” won’t get you anywhere so let the machine do the job and pay attention to the work being done. A little area is done and then wiped to be inspected. Continue in this fashion and monitor the results. Any adjustments can be quickly made when done in this manner. The color of the tattoo will not be any more colorful or brighter when you try to hammer the color into the skin.

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How to treat the customers at the time of tattooing

It should be mentioned here that most new customers are very nervous at first. That’s why you start on an unimportant part of the tattoo so if the customer jumps around at first, it won’t ruin the tattoo. Get a good grip on the client with the free hand for more stabilization. Tell them that the outline usually smarts more than the rest of the tattoo. Get them calm and talking to keep their minds off the tattooing, and if they persist in jumping around, explain to them that they are ruining their own tattoo and you will charge them double for the extra work involved. This will usually calm them down. Calm customers are good for business. Just like not wanting to hear someone screaming in a dentist’s office, it also holds true for tattooing.
This chapter covers just the straight forward mechanics of outlining a tattoo. For more information on this and how it ties in to the overall picture of giving a tattoo, see the chapter “Tattoo Review.”

Good tattoo shading requires experience and is an acquired skill. Diligent practice pays off here because sometimes tattoo artists are judged solely by their peers on the quality of black shading that they do. If done too light, it will not stand out. If not feathered right, it will appear blunt and the shading looks as if it ends abruptly. This is called “deadheading” and is undesirable.

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Marking Pens

Marking pens, also called skin scribes, are surgical marking pens used by doctors to draw scalpel lines on patients. They are non-toxic and are designed to draw right on the skin. It is not good practice to just draw a tattoo design on the body, since mistakes and changes are going to occur. Better to rework the design beforehand on paper and to transfer it with another method. The only reason the skin scribe is mentioned here is that it is a useful tool for touchup work, alterations or additions to a design already on the body. For this purpose, it is always handy to have a few ready for when you need them.

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Other methods and techniques for duplicating tattoo designs

The Ink and Pen

This method is identical to the pencil technique, but instead of a hectograph pencil you use a quill type pen and a bottle of hectograph ink. This is much superior to the pencil for several reasons. First, the ink lines cover solid on one tracing and it doesn’t need to be copied over to get it solid on the paper. Also, the stencil can be used more than once if care is taken not to totally abuse it in the process. The pencil stencil can be used over again also, but the ink tends to last longer and can be used as many as six times without copying it again. Hectograph ink works quite well on tracing paper and is easier to copy because it flows smoothly on the paper. The only drawback is that the hectograph ink is very hard to find and the only known source of it as of this writing is from Spaulding & Rogers Mfg., Inc. The procedure for applying the stencil is the same as for the pencil stencil.

The Duplicating Carbon

This basically gets you the same results as with the pencil or ink method, but is just a different route to get there. Materials needed are a design, a ball point pen (or something similar) and a sheet of either duplicating spirit masters or Heyer gelatin type duplicating carbon which are available everywhere in stationery stores or mail order supply houses. The middle separating sheet is first removed from a sheet of masters. Then it is taped, tacked or secured to a board or clipboard with the tattoo design placed right on top of it. Proceed to copy the design, line for line, with the ball point pen. When you are done, lift the carbon sheet and the design will be copied on the next sheet. This is the stencil. It then can be trimmed and put on by the deodorant stick application method. The stencil can be used more then once if careful, and this technique is simple because you can have a store of duplicating paper in your desk for future use that is quick and relatively clean.

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Different kind of tattoo designs

When you walk into a tattoo shop, there is color everywhere. Unless you specialize in black only, people expect to see designs in some sort of color. Flash sheets normally come in black shading only, and it is your responsibility to color them. The most common way is water color, magic marker or colored pencil. Colored pencil is the easiest because it is cleaner to use and the colors are already visible just sitting on the table (making it easier to visualize). Good advice here is to color the designs simple and eye catching. If in doubt about how to color something, color it with just black and shading. It’s very acceptable and always looks good.
If you make a super colorful flash sheet and cannot tattoo it like it is, your business will suffer and people will be let down. Color them just like you plan to tattoo them and everyone will be happy.
Plan to order two sheets of each flash sheet. One is for the walls and the other for stencil making and showing customers variations of it. (This saves taking down and putting it up again all the time.)
Most tattooists, after coloring their sheets, either frame them or wrap cellophane around them before hanging them up. This keeps dirt off, looks very professional and makes cleaning them easier without ruining designs.

Purchasing the larger designs is sometimes the better deal, because a local printer can reduce them, making them any size you want. Enlarging costs more, and for a small fee, you can have all the sizes you want of a particular design. Cut them out, paste them on a sheet of paper, color them in and hang them next to the larger designs they are reduced from. Some customers have a budget and if they like a design but if it is too big and costly, you can still have their business if you have smaller, less expensive duplicates around for them.
The standard designs that everyone is interested in, and you should have a large selection of, is as follows: Roses, flowers, eagles, parrots, birds, Chinese birds of paradise, sea themes and ships, vikings, skulls, dragons, snakes, tigers and lions, carp and fish, grim reapers, unicorns and women.
The flash sheet is the tie between you and the customer, so choose it carefully. Start collecting it immediately and it won’t be long before you have an assortment for everyone.

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Tattoo Designs

One of the basic foundations of tattooing is the tattoo design. Without them, what is there to tattoo? A great bonus to tattooing is the endless amount of nice artwork out there to use as designs and this in itself is a sort of “job security.” Printed design sheets, made readily available by tattoo suppliers, are called “flash” in the tattoo trade.
The starting tattooist, or any tattooist for that matter, should have a vast store of these on display for the customers to choose from. Flash sheets are an excellent value for your money and are a quick way to stock up on designs that may take ten years to draw yourself. There are not that many great artists out there tattooing, and you don’t have to be a fantastic designer to be a great tattooist.
These sheets are drawn by designers for the tattooist to work from. They range from the traditional to the totally bizarre and you can find just about anything you like. For starters, at the end of each chapter in this book is a good tattoo design to use. A good selection of traditional designs is a must because this is what people expect and more often than not, are what will keep you busy. If you happen upon some particular design theme or style that suits you, you may even want to just specialize in that.
A common mistake in the field is that a tattooist who can draw feels that their shop won’t be respectable if they carry “store bought” flash and insist on hand drawing every design on their shop walls. Don’t fall into this category, because people have really different tastes and a good stock of all types of designs from all types of artists will ensure something for everybody. It is good business sense to have a variety. If someone wants a custom design for themselves, no problem.
Personalized tattoos are great for sales and the customer walks away with a “one-of-a-kind.” If you can’t draw it, ask them to bring the design in themselves, or have a local artist do it for you (tack on the extra price with the tattoo.) You can spend hours and hours on special designs for people who ordered them and might not ever return. So, if you’re smart, get a deposit when someone wants you to draw up something special. Charge them for the time spent drawing it up. If they don’t want to pay for that, tell them to find a design already made up and you’ll be happy to put it on them.
Designs for tattoos are found everywhere. You should be able to copy just about anything and transfer it to the client (consult Chapter on Stencils). If you look around, good designs can be found from many sources; books, photos, cards, brochures, wall paper, posters, comics, advertisements, television, magazines, etc. The size usually needs to be changed and often it will need to be modified for tattooing in some way. Not everything looks good on skin. So experiment a little and try to use an artistic eye when judging these matters.

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Cleaning tubes and needle bars. Continuation

If a heat sealing system is not used, Red Fox bags, prelabeled for contents, can be substituted. However, they will not have the shelf life of the plastic bags, (1 year) and are not waterproof.
After autoclaving, remove the trash bag from the autoclave and dispose of it – it is now sterile. Place all bags in the clave and lock the door; start the cycle. 273° F, 15-17 PSI, for 30 minutes. At the end of the cool down cycle, remove the bad needle bars to the solder bench for destruction.
Heat the soldering iron and hold the needle end of the bar over the sharps box. Melt them off the bar, wipe the excess solder off the bar onto a wet towel and place it in the rebuild box.
The machine rack test tubes should be cleaned with a test tube brush and soapy water, rinsed under tap water, and rinsed again with distilled water. These tubes should be inverted and allowed to air dry before bagging and sterilizing them.
Though not required by regulation, the straight razor and bandage scissors can be cleansed, dried, bagged, and sterilized at the same time the bars and tubes go in; it’s just good practice.
Also remember, animals carry more bacteria and viruses than humans, some of which are transferable to man. To promote a sterile work environment it’s best to leave your pets at home.
A closing note of caution on the use of household bleach as a cleansing agent -never let it come in contact with ammonia, as chlorine gas will be liberated. This gas will KILL anything that breathes.  Bleach also corrodes aluminum.
Adhere to the laws of sterilization and you will be a survivor; fall short and you’ll be out of business.
To comply with current federal government regulations, regarding the sterilization of needle bars and tubes, we have obtained validation certificates from inde-pendant testing laboratories.
We have on file, quality assurance compliance reports verifmg that all of Spaulding & Rogers tubes and needle bars can be successfully sterilized using the autoclave or dry-clave sterilization methods described before on this tattoo site.

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Autoclave Sterilization

If your autoclave has automatic features, it was probably pre-set at the factory for 250° F. Utilizing a screwdriver and the instruction manual, increase the temperature to 273° F, or call a rep if you care not to do it yourself.
Some people are afraid of the clave exploding. This cannot happen as it has a safety release valve in back or on top which, when overloaded, will release the steam from the chamber.
Some autoclaves work on the locking-lug principle, very similar to a cannon breech or ship’s door. You turn the wheel to the right and the lugs engage a groove about 1/2″ behind the outer face ring. Others work on a bolt-stud closure with hand gripping tighteners.
When the steam enters the inner chamber and reaches about 5 psi, a popping sound is heard. This safety feature is the inside face of the door, which is convex, being moved by internal pressure to the concave, whereby the clave cannot be accidentally opened while in cycle, (see figure 2). This will also occur when the cycle is complete and the pressure falls below 5 psi.
The inside face will “pop” back to convex and the door can be opened.

When an autoclave is used it should be checked against a known indicator, such as heat and pressure sensitive tape, Red Fox bags, and other such items available from your supplier. If a doubt exists about an item’s sterility, it is not sterile.

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