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The Tattooing Process and How Tattoos are Done


If you are thinking about getting your first tattoo, you may be wondering what the entire process is like. We will try to explain the process of tattooing to hopefully take away some of the nervousness you might have. Read on to discover how tattoos are done.

Choosing Tattoo Artwork
The first step in getting a tattoo is choosing your artwork. We recommand Chopper Tattoo as they are simply the best and have the largest selection of tattoo designs.

One of the most important steps in getting a tattoo is choosing the artwork. In years past, a person would come into a tattoo studio and look through binders and posters on the wall to choose their artwork. It was a cumbersome process and a some people did not get the exact design they were hoping for. Luckily the Internet came along to make things better.

You can now browse an almost unlimited selection of tattoo designs from the comfort of your own home and pick the perfect piece of art for your tattoo before you ever walk into a tattoo studio. Your tattoo journey starts at Chopper Tattoo. There is no need to look anywhere else for tattoo artwork. Chopper Tattoo has a largest selection of award winning tattoo artwork from artists all over the world. Their site makes it simple for you to find the perfect design to use in your tattoo. Once you find the tattoo you want, print it out and bring it to a local tattoo artist. They will even show you a list of recommended tattoo artists in your area.

The Tattoo Process
A thermal copier is used to scan in your tattoo design to make the transfer outline.

When you have chosen your design, printed it out, and picked a good tattoo artist to do the work, you are ready to head to the studio. You will be asked to show valid photo identification for proof of your age. You must be at least 18 years old in the United States to get a tattoo. In many studios, the payment for your tattoo must be made before any services are rendered. Some of the time, the tattoo is a work in progress and cost has to be decided after. Each studio decides which methods of payment that they accept and what their prices are. After your paperwork is finished, you will be seated in the chair or on a tattoo table. If your tattoo is in a private area on your body, you may be taken to room or closed off area of the studio. Your artist will do their best to make you as comfortable as possible for the tattoo process.

Preparation for the tattoo is next. The area on your body that you have chosen for your tattoo will be sanitized with isopropyl alcohol. Then, hair will be removed from the area you chose by shaving it with a disposable razor which will be discarded after use.

How Tattoos are Done
This is what the thermal copied transfer looks like once it is on your skin.

A thermal-fax machine will be used next to make a stencil. This saves hours of tracing by scanning your design into the thermal machine. Once scanned, it then transfers onto a special thermal paper. Once the stencil is done, it's time to make the transfer onto the skin. Most tattoo artists will use stick deodorant to apply the stencil. Deodorant aids in making the transfer stick and become a little darker. When the thermal paper with the art on it is pulled away from your deodorant coated skin, it will leave you with a blue outline of your tattoo.

Next, the tattoo artist will start preparing their tattoo gun and the inks will be put in little cups called "ink caps" and the needles will be taken from their sterile packaging. Distilled water will be put into cups for cleaning the needles and to change colors of ink. Some A&D ointment or Vaseline will be placed on a paper towel for you.

Getting a Tattoo
A tattoo artist at work.

Now it is time to get a new tattoo! If you are nervous, you shouldn’t hold your breath. It is easier to just breathe and accept the discomfort. People have passed out during a tattoo before and it is usually due to the stress rather than the pain. Take a deep breath and relax the best that you can. After the first few minutes or so the area becomes used to the needle.

Once the line work has been finished, the tattoo artist does not have to worry about the transfer rubbing off anymore. Now it's time to do the shading and color if any. Your artist may now switch to different needles called “mags”, which are made for color and shading. Once all of the shading and coloring has been done, the tattoo is complete.

When your tattoo is finished, it needs to be treated like an open wound. A layer of A&D ointment will be applied to the tattoo to prevent bacteria that can cause infection. Then the tattoo will get bandaged and taped closed to make sure it is air tight. Keep your bandage on for the exact amount of time that your artist instructs you to.

The tattoo artist will give you tattoo aftercare instructions that you should follow exactly. The instructions should be given to you both verbally, and on paper for you to take home with you. It is so important that you listen and follow these instructions carefully. From here it is your responsibility to ensure that your tattoo is taken care of. Most infected tattoos come from improper after care.

The Process of getting Inked
A freshly finished tattoo.

You now are the proud owner of a brand new tattoo. Before you leave the tattoo shop, thank the artist, and please do not forget to tip them for a job well done. Show how much you appreciate their hard work and dedication to the art. You also should refer your friends to them if you are happy with their work. When you decide to go back for your next new tattoo, you will have made a good relationship with your tattoo artist and you can be sure that they will be there to assist you if you ever have any problems or questions at all in the future. Never hesitate to go to a tattoo shop just to ask questions as they are there to help you. You are their best advertisement! Walking around with a nice tattoo drums up business for their shop. If you are happy they are happy.

If you think that your tattoo is infected, do some research and go back to the artist who did the tattoo if possible. If you are unable to speak to the artist that did the tattoo, any tattoo artist will work. Tattoo artists are trained as to what to look for and can usually recommend the treatment if the tattoo is indeed infected. This is one of the main reasons for taking such good care of a new tattoo. The tattoo can end up pretty scarred after an infection.

Infections are rare, so don’t be too concerned with getting infected. Just enjoy your new tattoo and show it off to all your friends!

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Tattoo Trivia:

Thomas Riley used Edison's idea for the electric pen when he created his coil machine used for tattooing.