How to Get Hands-On Experience with Tattooing

You want to try tattooing for yourself, but you’re not sure if you’re ready to become an apprentice.

That’s no problem at all.

Today it’s easy and inexpensive to buy a tattoo starter kit and practice on your own. For less than a hundred bucks, you can get a couple of irons, ink, and other accessories.

One of the most important things to get is practice skin. Buy the good stuff, not the cheap stuff. Then wrap around a grapefruit or the arm of your friend and get to work.

Please, please, please do not ink anyone (not even yourself) right at first. There are several good reasons for this.

One is that tattoo ink is designed to be permanent. And tattoo removal is very expensive and usually painful.

Worst, poor hygiene practices can lead to infection and permanent scarring.

Don’t get caught up in the excitement of using your new tattoo machines on human skin until you’ve learned more about how to do it properly.

Like Mama Said, If You’re Going to Do Ink, Do It Right

I’m assuming that you have some skill at drawing. That’s great – keep sketching, keep creating.

But now, learn to do it on something other than flat paper on a tabletop.

I’m guessing you wouldn’t feel comfortable being operated on by a doctor who never practiced on a cadaver or held a scalpel.

Therefore, draw on practice skin, draw on fruit, and get a feel for what it’s like to hold a tattoo machine for long periods of time.

When you’re new to tattooing, it’s going to tire out your hand more quickly than holding a pencil or brush.

Learn about the Tools for Tattooing

If you’ve ever gotten a tattoo, chances are the artist used coil tattoo machines. Most likely, the artist switched between different machines to outline and shade.

Coil machines are distinctive for their buzzing and vibration. Depending on the way they’re built, some are suitable for shading and others for lining.

Artists like me tend to collect tattoo machines. But I’d suggest you’ll need at least one liner and one shader or color packer, and it’s better to have two of each kind in case of failure.

Then there are rotary tattoo machines. Most rotary machines can do both shading and lining, and they do it with less vibration.

Some of the best rotary tattoo machines are shaped like pens, and they are very lightweight and easy to control.

Even though they are versatile, I’d still recommend that you have at least two rotary tattoo machines in your kit (in case one fails).

The best case scenario is when you have access to both main kinds of tattoo machines so you can experiment with them. That way you can discover which type best suits your style.

It’s about More than the Machines

Obviously, tattoo irons are essential. But you still need to learn about inks, needles, needle groupings, and sanitary practices.

Just like there are different brush tips for painting, there are different needle sizes for inking. Shading is accomplished with needle groups. Train with all the different sizes you can.

Inks are another matter. Try different brands. Discover how the colors blend together. This is especially obvious when you alter an old tattoo. The new ink doesn’t cover up the old – instead, it mixes with it.

And be careful about the ink you use on human skin. Don’t skimp and use the cheap stuff because it may have toxins in it.

Finally, hygiene is key. It protects you and protects the person you’re inking.

Study how to sterilize your equipment. Keep your workspace clean and uncluttered. Get all the stuff you need to tattoo hygienically and keep an eye on your stock, so you don’t run out.

As you can imagine, tattooing turns into a career because it’s expensive to do as a hobby.

But there’s always room for one more tattoo artist in the world!