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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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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A Word About Green Tattoo Color

It seems as though everyone in tattooing at some time or other has had a problem putting green into the skin. Of course there are many and varied reasons for this. I will go into this in detail because I think it is a very important part of tattooing that every artist should know. A tattoo machine is only as good as the artist behind it. For starters, a good running machine with a new set of needles is a must. The most common mistake with green is that the artist doesn’t know when it’s in the skin. This happens because most greens are mixed with white and when tattooed into the skin, appears more white than green. (Example – Spaulding & Rogers Bright Green). The inexperienced artist will overwork the area, thinking he hasn’t got the color in because it doesn’t appear to be green enough. When the area is overworked, the color will just go into a bubble on the skin which will be mostly blood. When cleaned off, the skin will have a fuzzy look, and chances are there will be a thick scab and a sore tattoo to go with it. This you don’t want. So, although your green color may take on a very white look, don’t worry, it’s in there. Another good rule is to work it slowly, the skin will only accept it so fast and beyond that, it’s lost motion.
These same methods apply to all blue colors also. Always use Vaseline on the skin while working colors, it makes clean up more easy. If you find that your green has heated with little white spots showing throughout it, these are called “holidays” and usually comes from working the color too fast. In other words, there are spots you have missed due to an untrained eye. Yellow color is notorious for this and most always requires to be gone over twice during the process of the tattoo. It’s not a hard color to put in, it’s just deceiving to the eye.

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Acetate Stencils, Other way of making a tattoo design

One of the most popular ways of tattoo designs transfer is with the acetate stencil. Acetate sheeting is acquired through your tattoo supplier in rolls or sheets which measure in approximately .020 inch thickness. The most practical way is in rolled sheets that you cut to size yourself. The curl in the sheeting is easily removed by running under hot water after it has been cut down to size. The hot water softens it up and allows it to be flattened out.

How to do an acetate stencil.

Materials needed: A design, acetate sheet to cover design and a stencil cutter. First the design is taped or secured to a drawing board or sheet of glass and the acetate sheet (already cut to size), placed over it. Both are secured to keep from moving and the plastic sheet should be about one inch bigger around than the design. The stencil cutter is a pen-type holder which grasps a sturdy stainless steel scribe pin. You then follow the lines of the design with the stencil cutter engraving the lines of the design right into the acetate. Work slowly and get your lines smooth. Don’t include any shading. When done, the acetate should have the lines of the design etched right into it like little grooves. It isn’t necessary to cut your way all the way through the other side, just a solid groove is good enough. The stencil must then be deburred. To do this, take another piece of acetate about one square inch in size and hold it upright with your fingers so the piece is vertical and the stencil is horizontal. The idea here is to rub the stencil back and forth with the edge of the other piece of acetate.
This scraping will take the little burrs out of the stencil, making the transfer come out cleaner and sharper. When this is done, remove the acetate stencil from the table and round off the corners with a pair of scissors, so there are no sharp edges. The acetate stencil is now complete. One great advantage to this style of stencil is if you want a reverse image, just flip over the stencil and etch the image on the other side, creating two stencils, one on each side, of the same design. Number each stencil according to the design sheet and put your name on it. Another advantage is their shelf life. They last quite a long time and can be used over and over again. Clean them up and file them away for the next person wanting that design. Since they take longer to prepare, the beginner should stick to the pencil or ink method of transfer at first, slowly building up the collection of acetate stencils. It saves a lot of time to have acetate stencils cut with your most popular designs on them first, so they don’t have to be repeatedly drawn over and over when you are real busy.

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Preparing de client for the tattoo sterilization

With a sterile straight razor (or disposable), remove all hair from the tattoo site including 1 and 1/2 inch beyond all borders. Wipe with sterile napkin (prepackaged, 50 or 100 each and autoclaved). Fold 2 more 4×4’s and repeat the green soap scrub, working from the center of the circle towards the outside, not going back to the center.

Dry the area again with a napkin, from the center in a circular fashion working outward. Fold 2 4×4’s and scrub again with 70% alcohol in the same circular fashion and dry once again in the same manner. Fold 2 4×4’s and apply a light coat of betadine solution to the area, again in the same circular motion. Unfold the remaining two 4×4’s so they are 4×8’s and cover the cleansed area until you are ready to set your stencil.
The above prep procedure is hospital recommended for suturing. It should be alright for tattooing. Believe me when I say your client will be impressed.
CAUTION. Ask the client if he/she has a history of allergic reaction to the use of iodine or iodine related products prior to the use of betadine.
During the tattoo, I throw the bloody napkins or paper towels into a waxed brown paper bag. When I am done, my apron, gloves, ink cups, and lap sheet go in there too. It is then stapled shut and autoclaved for disposal as common trash. If you use plastvc trash, can Iiners, they must be changed between clients and  placed seated mto a second bag that again is sealed and labeled as contaminated with human blood.

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The Sterilization

In the year 1650, a doctor named Lewanouke opened up the gates to a whole new world as he viewed a drop of pond water through his latest discovery… a microscope. As crude as this monocular magnifying device was, it introduced him and his “little animals” to the rest of the world. He spent his remaining years studying and classifying these “little animals” and earned the title of “The Father of Bacteriology”. Through the years as the listing grew in numbers, these “little animals” were divided into Genus, Order, Family and Species. Their association with disease and disease processes was not suspected for many years after their existence became known.
Dr. Joseph Lister, an English surgeon, developed a device he called the “Lister lamp”. When lit, it put a mist of carbolic acid into the air that he believed would control infections. At this particular time, this is where they believed infections came from, the air. Diseases, so named, bare this point to be true, e.g., malaria: “mal-” meaning bad, and “aria” meaning air.
Dr. Lister had these lamps in his office and he required them in any operating room suite where he performed surgery. In addition to his lamp, he employed strict hand-scrubbing techniques, spotless linens, and cleansing of the operation site. Infection in Dr. Lister’s patients was reduced considerably if his precautions were strictly adhered to. He became known as “The Father of Antiseptic Surgery”.
Mankind is plagued today by some 400 diseases, 375 of which can be transmitted by a tattoo needle. Does that sound fantastic? Well, I should say it does, especially when that came from a newspaper article back in 1958.
You see, we’ve known about the problem for years, and it’s about time that we, as professionals, put infections and disease out the back door of the tattoo studio where they belong.

With the above thought in mind, this writer will lead the horse to water. We will cover just a few of the more common organisms that we confront every day in the tattoo shop. Most of these organisms have a particular place on the body where they are more prevalent than others, but as we all know, 1.) bacteria do not read the books, and 2.) add two scratching hands, and we can grossly re-arrange that pattern.

Most bacteria live on hair follicles, the superficial layers of skin and in the sebaceous glands. Most, but not all sebaceous glands have hair follicles associated with them (see figure 1). Many pack themselves into the ruts and cracks of the cornified or surface layers of the skin.

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Pay attention on this information about tattoos and places

In areas where the skin stretches and moves, the scabs are easily torn off before they are ready. If this happens, the area where it was still attached will bleed. In doing so, it will bleed the color right back out. That particular area will revert back to skin color. Every minute the area is in its healing process, it is susceptible to problems. The shorter the healing time, the better.
Try to guide women away from getting tattoos on their arms because many employers won’t hire women who have visible tattoos, but once they are aware of the situation, if they still want one, go ahead and do it.
Try to guide people away from getting their lover’s name on them. It’s sure to change with time. You’ll find yourself covering a lot of them up anyway, ones that other people did. If you must tattoo names on, do them in red or light blue so they can be easily covered up in the future.
Skin is an important matter in tattooing. It is your canvas for art work. Please pay attention to all that has been said, and your tattoos will look pretty and heal with no problem on any type of skin.

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Check the skin before tattooing

If the skin is slippery, put a clean paper towel down first, it will help keep your hand from slipping. Plus, you can always use the paper towel in your free hand for wiping, if necessary.
If a stencil is put on while the skin is stretched, it will look different when it isn’t stretched. So, check the stencil after it is on while the customer is standing in a natural position to make sure it looks right before you start. Even if you have to make a new stencil print, do it until it’s right. If the stencil print isn’t correct, the tattoo isn’t going to look right. Paper stencils are much easier to use for large back designs than are acetate stencils. Also, the print from the hectograph ink used on the paper stencil will not smear as does stencil powder used on the acetate stencil.
To put a stencil on the back, have the customer stand straight up and fully relaxed. After the stencil is on, you can put them in any position you like, to do the actual tattooing.
If it’s a large tattoo, you may want to enlist the help of a friend to help stretch the skin. If so, have them wash up good with soap and hot water. Then spray their hands good with nibbing alcohol before starting. Make sure they are wearing clean clothes, and a pair of latex gloves also. Keep it “professional.”
Give your helper a paper towel. Have him sit across the bench from you and hold onto the other side of your customer’s skin. To do this, have him spread out the fingers on both hands to cover as wide an area as possible, about six inches from that side of the tattoo. Have him toward you from below the tattoo, giving your machine hand plenty of room to maneuver. Most of the time your helpers will tire out easily in this position. Another “hold” is to have him sort of lean on the customer and use his entire forearm to hold the skin while the arm is bent at a 90 degree angle at the elbow.

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