A Word of Advice about tattooing industry

Whether we like it or not, the tattooing industry has a lot of jealousy within its ranks. There is countless reasons for this and some of them will give you the impression that a certain individual should have his head checked. His attitude won’t really register with you until you have been into tattooing a short period of time. Some people will think they own a whole town, city or county and tell you there is no room for another artist in that area. In some cases there isn’t enough business for only one, but if he is established and doing good work, he really has nothing to worry about, but you can’t tell him that. He already has all the answers. Just be very selective here, you pick your location. Never knock your competition even though he might be giving you the bad mouth all the time. It only makes proposed customers curious and they will check it out, believe me. Some tattooists get along fine together, they sort of run in a click, and if you fit into that particular click and are accepted, you’re all set.
One thing in this business that will get you accepted quickly is to turn out exceptional tattoo work. At this point, your competition knows that you’re better than he thought and his attitude towards you might even change, especially if he figures he can learn something from you after seeing some of the super work you’re turning out. Don’t brag about your work, you get a reputation in the tattoo business from other artists, not the customer. Strange as it seems, this is true. Always do your best, conduct yourself in a professional manner and above all, be a nice guy. Public relations is a very important part of tattooing, it has a lot to do with how much you have in your pocket at the end of the week.

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The space and location of the tattoo studio

Space and location have a large bearing on the amount of rent you’ll be paying. It’s nice to have a place with some elbow room. Some shops are too small to change your mind in. If you’re stuck with an arrangement like that, you can have a workshop at home and do sterilizing and many other chores there, as well. You’ll require a small toolbox for transporting items back and forth. It is not convenient, but it can be done in a pinch. Former barber shops make good tattoo studios. If you keep your eye open, you might find one that requires very little renovation.
You can also go on housecalls, that is, you go to the customer’s house instead of them going to you. House calls can bring you top dollar. But, you’ll have to assemble some sort of complete travelling kit for this. Try to keep them outside off regular business hours.
The ideal arrangement for a studio is to have it partitioned into three rooms.
The room adjacent to the street entrance will be the waiting room and should be the largest of the three. Have some chairs there, perhaps a coffee table and some magazines, a deck of cards or a chess board.
All your flash will be displayed on the walls of this room. If they’re in frames, they can be either hung up or screwed fast to the wall. It’s nice to have a place with high ceilings, but they’re becoming hard to find.
At the rear of the waiting room, or off to the side, there should be a fully equipped, clean, working restroom.

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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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Brush Shading. A not familiar type of shading in the tattoo business.

This is a type of shading that is not familiar to everyone in the tattoo business as is common sweep shading. The reason is it’s quite a hard technique to master and requires a lot of practice. It also takes a super running tattoo machine. The effect you can get with brush shading on a tattoo is very outstanding and puts the artist in a separate class of his own. After you have accomplished this technique, other artists not so fortunate will look up to you with envy. Some will even want you to teach them how to do it. The most unique thing about brush shading is that you don’t have to stand on your head or get in a bent-out position to do it. You can work your shading forwards, backwards or to the side and get all the same effects with little effort. You can practice with a pencil on paper or if you want to be real technical, you can fasten a pencil to the tube on a tattoo machine. This way, you will have the weight of the machine in your hand the same as if you were actually tattooing. The technique is all in the movement of your wrist as is sweep shading, but the brush shading is done from a very slow movement to a very fast movement. As you pick up the needles from the skin, you must turn your machine sideways, moving slowly, and putting the black in solid to start with. As you want to feather out the shading, you pick up the speed of your wrist movement back and forth and at the same time, picking up on the machine while going away from the solid black area. This can be accomplished by going in a forward or reverse position but must be done fast to get the effect desired. Use a low power on your machine, and if you must go over it again, be very careful because you can get too much black into it and ruin the effect of the whole tattoo. Refer to diagrams.

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Working with the tattoo machine. Some advices

Dip the tip of the machine in the ink cap that was used for outlining (being refilled when need be) without letting the needle points hit against any side of the cap. The machine tube tip will fill up and the ink will gravity flow down the needles and enter the holes your shader needles are making in the skin and at the same time putting in the black.
Begin the tattoo by working on the portions of the design that are to be solid black. Let the machine do the work and do not press down on it, just guide the machine and move the tip in small circles, letting the needle points enter the skin where you want the black ink to go. Never try to run out of ink and try to keep the needles continuously wet with flowing ink. Don’t waste time by tattooing without ink or doing a tattoo that is bleeding excessively. Always work off the points of your needles for best results.
Learn early in your career how to put in solid black (or color) where it is needed. The tip must be kept moving in small circles, slowly covering the desired area. Wipe occasionally with tissue to keep an eye on how it is coming along. Do not over do it because the skin can only handle just so many of those small holes. Remember, all those holes have to heal later. Some people think that the deeper you go, the better the results. This notion is unfounded. If continuously grinding and pressing the machine, the skin will rip and excessive scabbing will occur which will reject ink from the body. If an area is covered way too rapidly, unshaded areas will be left and a very basic rule will be broken, and that is that a tattooist should not go back over what has already been done. Do it the first time right. The skin has to be stretched tightly and the needles should be going into the skin evenly with about a 45° angle measured between the skin and the tilt of the needle and tube.

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Black shading. Next step in the tattoo process after outlinding

Shading must be mastered because, not only does it really make a tattoo stand out, but many tattooing errors and tattoo cover-ups can be hidden and corrected by proper shading. Black shading is the next step in the tattoo process after outlining. All the black work must be done before any color can be put in.
The tattooing spectrum goes from dark to light. That is black first, then the next darkest color, etc., and the lightest colors for last. If not done in this order, the dark colors mix with the lighter ones in the pores already made from the machine and a bad smudged mess will result. So, all the black work must be done first, and after the outline is finished, that means the shading is next.
Black shading can be so attractive that some tattooists use this style exclusively. They feel that a black tattoo (one done only in black ink, no color) is the only way to show a tattoo and that the addition of color only hinders the design. With some of the quality work out nowadays, especially single needle tattoos, it’s not hard to appreciate this point of view. Black tattoos take on an aged “patina” with time, and after a few years, if the tattoo is retouched up with more black, a certain quality is obtained which cannot be reproduced in any other way.
The tattoo machine should have the four or six needle shader bar set-up properly with the corresponding shader tube. Let the needles stand out about 1/32 inch. The two outside needles should touch the sides just enough to eliminate any side to side motion but not enough to make them tight. Check it running and adjust so there is no side quiver (see Machine Set-Up Section for solutions). Now the artist is set-up to do the black shading. Start by washing the outline with green soap and apply another very thin coat of Vaseline over it.

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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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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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We have 2 types of cleaning here; one is for re-usable and the other is for disposable items. The process is the same except for packaging the items for the autoclave. After 30 minutes in the ultrasonic cleaner, cleaning needle bars and tubes is a snap. Simply brush off any debris with a denture brush and green soap or soap powder. Hold the needles in your left hand against your index finger for support (points away from you) and brush away from you, never towards yourself. Roll the bar over and clean the other side. Rinse the bar under running water and examine it with an eye loupe for damage (barbs, excessive wear, etc.).

If it can be re-used place it on a towel and clean its respective tube. There are several devices that make this easier. One is a pipe cleaner, others are nylon brushes and special denture brushes all available from good tattoo supply houses.

Cleaning, first use the brush, then bore swabs. The pipe cleaners are pulled through it like a bore brush then rinse. The nylon brushes enter through the back (open) end of tube – the special denture (with variable tips) do a great job from entering in from the needle end – then always rinse. See Figure 8.
Place it with its needle bar. Do the same for all remaining bars and tubes. If a needle bar cannot be re-used after the cleaning, drop it points first into a glass test tube. Using machine rack test tubes, push a cotton ball (not rayon) to the bottom of the tube and place the re-usable bar in its respective tube gently, points first, onto this cotton ball. Plug the open end with another cotton ball and place it in a plastic autoclave bag with a tag to identify it e.g. 3 needle liner, etc. Heat seal all of these bags and put a small piece of autoclave tape on the bag with the date on it. Plug the tube with the bad needles in it and seal it for autoclaving.

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