If you’ve never had a tattoo before, you should get one done by a professional. However, if you want to learn the art and practise on yourself, you can do so safely and effectively. Learning to tattoo properly necessitates planning, concentration, and safety. Learn how to get started with inking the right way.
When getting a tattoo at home, you run a much higher risk of contracting a blood-borne infection. Sterile conditions, new needles, and proper care are all required. It is strongly advised that you get all tattoos done at licenced parlours.
Part 1 Preparing for a Tattoo
1. Purchase a tattoo machine. If you’ve never tattooed before, you should probably start with a tattoo machine, also known as a “tattoo gun.” These work by using electromagnetic coils to control an armature bar, which rapidly moves a grouping of needles up and down. The needles are dipped in tattoo ink before being inserted beneath the skin. Tattoo starter kits with sterile supplies can be purchased for around $100.
Tattoo machines and supplies are roughly the same price as having a small tattoo professionally done at a parlour, making a shop tattoo a much better option if you haven’t had any work done yet. But if you do, and you want to learn on yourself, you should invest in a high-quality tattooing machine.
You can also save some money if you make your own tattoo gun. If you want to get a stick ‘n poke tattoo without using a tattoo gun, read Give Yourself a Tattoo Without a Gun to learn how to reduce the risks of this technique.
2. Make use of tattoo ink or India ink. Tattoos should be made only with specialised tattoo ink or carbon-based India ink. Because these inks are natural and react gently with your body, the process is safe and sterile. Other types of ink should never be used for tattoos.
Some people are allergic to specific ink ingredients and pigments, but this is typically limited to coloured inks. Unless you’re a seasoned tattoo artist, it’s generally not a good idea to experiment with colours.
If you want an infection and bad-looking art on your body, never use pen ink or other types of ink to make a tattoo. Do it correctly.
3. Get the rest of the sterilisation supplies you’ll need. Because the risk of blood-borne infection is much higher in tattoos done outside of a parlour, it’s critical that you take your tattoo seriously and only use brand-new, just-out-of-the-package, sterilised supplies to get a tattoo. Again, the best way to get everything you’ll need is to invest in a starter kit, which can be had for around a hundred dollars. To get started, you’ll need the following items:
New tattooing needles
A disposable container for the ink
Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
Cotton balls or soft batting
Tattoo goo, A&D, or Bacitracin for aftercare
4. Select a simple design. It’s probably not the best time to get that sick panther wearing a camo bandana and slashing through the outline of Uranus across your arm as your first tattoo. Choose a simple outline-style tattoo that you can expand on later if necessary. What about a few words or a simple line drawing? You’re talking now. The following are some good first-tattoo ideas:
Hand-print style lettering
Small line-drawings of animals
5. Get your body ready. To make the tattoo process as simple as possible, make sure the tattoo area is clean and ready. When you’re ready to begin inking, make sure you haven’t consumed any alcohol in the previous several hours and that you aren’t taking any blood-thinning painkillers (such as aspirin) or other drugs.
Shower, dry yourself, and change into clean clothes before you begin.
6. Shave the area where the tattoo will be placed. Shave the area you’ll be tattooing with clean strokes and a good margin of skin around it with a fresh blade. Even if there doesn’t appear to be any hair, shave. The razor is more precise than your vision.
7. Prepare your environment. Choose a clean, flat surface with plenty of light on which to work. After thoroughly washing the surface with soap and water and allowing it to dry for a few minutes, use a disinfectant to remove any trace amounts of bacteria. After that, cover your work area with a thick layer of paper towels to avoid staining any furniture or flooring.
Open a window or turn on a fan to ventilate the room. Because the pain can cause sweating, it’s best to keep the room cool.
8. Print the design and apply it to your skin. Depending on the design you’re attempting to tattoo, you may want to go freehand, which is uncommon, or (more likely) work from a stencil, which is similar to a temporary tattoo. This is the most common way in which professional tattoo artists provide a framework for their work:
Draw the design on a sheet of paper or print it from your computer, then transfer it to the stencil paper. Spread a stencil liquid, such as StencilStuff or StencilPro, over the area.
Place the stencil on the skin, purple side down, and smooth it out flat. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before carefully removing the stencil from the skin. Allow the skin to completely dry.
Part 2 Tattooing Yourself
1. Clean and sterilise your tools. The main danger of a home tattoo is infection. Take precautions to keep everything as clean as possible, and only use brand-new, sterile equipment to complete your tattoo.
Clean and sterilise your needle. Put your needle in a pot of water and boil it for five minutes before you plan to tattoo yourself. Allow it to cool for a moment on a clean paper towel before soaking it in rubbing alcohol and wiping it down carefully with a new towel.
Cleanly pour your ink. Wipe the ink container clean with a rubbing alcohol-soaked paper towel, then gently pour in a small amount of ink. Another towel should be placed across it to prevent dust from falling into it.
Use less ink than you believe you will require. A small amount of tattoo ink goes a long way, and you can always add more if necessary. Keep a clean glass of water nearby for cleaning your needle during the procedure.
Put on a pair of clean rubber gloves. Keep the box nearby and be prepared to replace them on a regular basis as your hands sweat.
2. To begin, fill the needle with ink. When you’re ready to begin tattooing, dip your needle into the ink and place the stylus in a steady position on your hand. Start by turning on the tattoo gun, aligning the needle with the guide line, and getting started.
Before you begin the tattoo, you must first start the machine to get the needle moving. Never pierce the skin with the needle before turning it on.
Keep the skin to be tattooed as tight and flat as possible with your other hand. It is critical to provide yourself with a good canvas on which to tattoo. The more flattering, the better.
Some tattoo guns can be auto-loaded with ink by inserting a tattoo ink canister directly into the gun. Obviously, if you have access to one of these guns, you don’t need to dip the needle.
3. Incorporate the needle into your skin. It’s difficult to push a tattooing needle in too deeply because the needle’s design prevents it, but you do need to make sure it goes deep enough, at least a few millimetres. Begin moving it along the outline of your design as you go.
When you pull the needle out, your skin should tug slightly, but bleeding should be minimal. It’s probably too shallow if your skin doesn’t resist when you pull the needle out. The needle is too deep if there is a lot of blood.
Because the needle is difficult to see, it is usually preferable to tilt the needle at a diagonal to the skin, with the tube resting on the skin.
4. Create an outline for your design. Slowly move the needle down your stencil line. Don’t go more than a few centimetres along your outline before removing the needle, wiping away the excess ink, and continuing. Take your time and pay close attention to the line quality to ensure an even tattoo.
Because the needle is moving, it can be difficult to see where it is going into the skin. To stay on track, keep it moving along the line, then remove it and wipe away the excess ink. It’s a time-consuming process.
5. Fill in the rest of your tattoo. Continue tracing the lines of your tattoo, wiping away excess ink and re-upping the ink on the needle as you go. Keep a close eye on what you’re doing and the line thickness. Because high-quality tattoos will have very even line-work, it is critical to use consistent pressure and evenness.
Filling in the tattoo is usually done with a slightly larger needle, and instead of moving in straight lines, you move in gentle, tiny circles. This may be unnecessary for your first tattoo, but feel free to experiment.
6. Maintain the cleanliness of the stylus. Wet the needle before adding more ink to it on a regular basis. Cleaning the excess ink from the needle is critical for cleanliness and a good tattoo job. If you accidentally place your needle somewhere other than the ink dish and your skin, stop and sterilise it again with a clean paper towel and rubbing alcohol. Before you continue, make sure it’s completely dry.
Wipe away excess ink on a regular basis. Wipe away excess ink and seeping blood from your tattoo with a soft paper towel after a few repetitions. Each time, use a new towel.
Part 3 Cleaning and Healing
1. Cleanse the tattoo gently. When you’re finished, apply a thin layer of Tattoo ointment, also known as A&D or Tattoo Goo, and cover the tattoo with clean gauze. To reduce the risk of infection, fresh tattoo work should be protected as soon as you finish it.
Never apply lotion or petroleum jelly to a newly tattooed area. These clog the pores, draw out the ink, and prevent the tattoo from healing properly. It’s a common misconception that new tattoos are treated with Vaseline or petroleum jelly. The ointment used has a consistency similar to Vaseline, but it is not the same.
Do not apply ointment to the tattoo. Most tattoos require only a small, pea-sized amount. It’s critical to allow the tattoo to heal as quickly and naturally as possible, which it won’t be able to do if it’s constantly covered in goop.
Don’t wash your tattoo right away. If you used sterile products, you should leave the tattoo alone for a few days to allow the inflammation to subside before attempting to clean it. Cover the tattoo with a bandage and leave it alone.
2. Wrap it up. Cover the tattoo completely with a clean, soft gauze bandage. Be gentle, as the tattooing process will most likely have left the area irritated. Bind it loosely with medical tape or stretch wrapping.
Allow the bandage to remain on the tattoo for at least the first two hours, if not the entire day. This is a critical step in the process. Don’t start tampering with it just to show off your work. Wait.
3. Make your workspace presentable. Remove the ink from your vessel, the needle from the gun, the gloves, and the rest of the equipment you used. If you want to get sterile, clean, and effective tattoos, you can’t reuse this stuff. When giving a tattoo, only use new, clean products.
4. Remove the bandage and use water to gently clean the tattoo. When cleaning your tattoo for the first time, use a small amount of cool water to gently clean the surface of the tattoo with your hand. Do not soak or run the tattoo under water. This is extremely important.
For the first 48 hours, avoid soaking the tattoo. After the first rinse, gently clean the tattoo with soap and warm water the night before you go to bed. After two days, you can resume normal cleaning when you shower.
For about two weeks, apply a thin layer of ointment to the tattoo 2-3 times per day. Keep an eye on things to make sure there are no signs of infection, and see a doctor right away if you suspect your tattoo is infected.
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