There are many items that a tattoo artist needs to continue with their work. Most of the pieces and parts that they will use are disposable, while others will be interchangeable along the way. Among those things is the machine that they use, the brands of ink they choose, and let's not forget the tattoo needles that they will need to get the job done.
Before an artist even starts to deal with the actual tattoo needles, the machine itself has to be put together. It comes in three main parts. This includes the coil wrap, the grip, and the tips that hold the needles. To keep everything together and running smoothly, rubber bands, rubber rings, and grommets will also be needed.
To even be able to use the machine, there are other items that are needed. There is the power supply and the foot pedal. These come in many varieties to choose from. It really depends on what the artist's preference is and what the have become comfortable with. The artist will also have to make sure that all of the cords that come with the pedal and the power supply are long enough for their needs.
While disposable, the tattooing needles are a very important part of the machine. They must always, always be sterilized. Because of the risk of infection, many artists opt to buy pre-packaged needles that come in pre-sterilized packages. There are ways to sterilize the needles before use, but this is the safest way to make sure that your customer will have the lowest risk of infection possible.
As the artist gets farther along into their tattooing career, they will most likely have at least two machines set up to be used. One will be designated as a liner machine, and the other will be used as a shader. It is easier for the artist to have different machines setup to do different things so that they will not have to spend the time preparing the machines while tattooing.
A tattoo artist will use a liner machine to do the outline of the tattoo and any lining within the tattoo itself. This machine will usually use smaller needles to achieve the look that the customer wants. Even a single needle can be used, but a three or a five is most likely unless the customer is wanting bigger and bolder lines.
A shading machine will do just that, shading within the outlines of the tattoo. With shading, the size of the needle will usually be larger than the size used for the outlining. It is up to the artist's preference whether he or she will use a flat or round setup of needles.
Professional tattoo needles will come labeled as what they are intended for. RS and RL for round shader and round liner. A round setup is where the needles are grouped together to form a cylindrical shape. FS and FL are also used for flat shader and flat liner. With a flat setup, the needles are lined up in a single row, or they also come in multiple rows stacked on top of one another. Each type of setup varies in size starting from a single needle up to nine or even more.
No matter what level of tattooing the artist is at, tattoo needles are an important part of the job. To keep the customer safe and the risk of infection low, then they should always be sterilized and used only once. They come in many sizes and varieties, so it will always depend on what the artist is comfortable with using for each tattoo that they do.