In the upcoming table we will have an insight look at the most popular tattoo machines among several artists.
It needs to be taken into consideration that the majority of artists have used/are using more than one machine depending on a specific project, nonetheless FK irons & InkJecta machines are the favorite pick amongst the artists in terms of performance and durability.
|Tattoo Machines||Used by|
Any profession tattoo artist is aware of the importance of good tattoo needles.
This does not represent only a health and safety requirement issue, but depending on the quality of needles used, the final result of the tattoo will differ.
It is important for tattoo needles to be sharp, straight and solid.
In the previous years, within the tattoo industry, significant progress was made when looking at the variety of products that are available.
Nowadays, more and more options are accessible at competitive prices which will consequently boost the tattoo industry further.
In the table down below, we will see the that the most two popular needles used by several tattoo artists are Kwadron& Helios.
|Tattoo Needles||Used by|
|Helios Tattoo Supply|
|True Tattoo Supply|
There is no secret that the quality of the tattoo ink plays a key role for the end result.
Bad quality ink can lead to fading tattoos and much more severe issues affecting the health of the client, such as skin diseases that can consequently result in bigger issues.
A good quality ink is a bit more expensive however it assures a more protected and safe overall procedure.
Amongst the most used tattoo inks used by artists are Eternal ink & Intense Ink.
|Tattoo Ink||Used By|
|Star Brite Colors|
Tattoo Aftercare Products
The use of a tattoo aftercare cream is crucial in order to avoid any type of infection that can occur.
In addition, this will guarantee that your tattoo will heal correctly and even more the aftercare products will have a positive outcome of the aesthetic of the tattoo in the long-run.
It begins with good habits, as tattoo aftercare is for life.
It can take up to 4 to 6 months for deeper skin layers to completely recover, so it is a wise investment to use a specialized tattoo aftercare product during this period.
Best Tattoo Equipment According To Tattoo Artists
In order to have a better understanding of the tattoo equipment products that are available on the market, we have contacted several artists within the industry and they could share with us their top picks in terms of tattoo machines, needles, ink and aftercare products that they prefer mostly.
Here are their full answers:
Jesse Levitt’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at The Dark Space Art Collective
For machines I always use Inkjectas, and that’s not just because they offered me a sponsorship!
I used an Inkjecta Flite nano for years before they offered me a sponsorship, and now I am using their new cordless machine the X1, which is hands down the most efficient, comfortable and effortless machine I have ever used.
The cordless feature is great, but the machine itself is both just a powerhouse and very gentle and smooth at the same time.
As far as ink, I’ve recently started using Allegory black.
I used to use Silverback Black 11 or triple black, but not anymore.
A co-worker of mine let me borrow some of his Allegory black a while ago and I really liked it.
All of my work has been healing up extra dark since I made the switch, its both very dark and it saturates solid black areas effortlessly.
I am not sponsored by Allegory but I will testify to its awesomeness!
As will my healed work, which is darker than ever.
As for needles, I always use Cheyenne needle cartridges.
The expensive ones, not the craft carts.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with the cheaper options, I use them sometimes when suppliers run out of the Cheyenne carts, but they are no where near the same quality.
On average a single session with me takes about 8 solid hours, and all my projects are very large so I don’t mind spending a bit extra to get the higher quality Cheyenne carts.
They are always sharp and never dull, bend, or come with any defects.
I also like to remove the clear tip of the liners and shaders to bend the needle down so it rides the bottom of the tube.
Something you can not do with other brands.
I used to employee Hustle Butter Deluxe for my ointment and aftercare, however I have recently been introduced to a new product that is really blowing my mind. It’s called “Platinum Rose”.
Again, they do not sponsor me, and I actually left behind a full sponsorship with Hustle Butter and I’ve been paying full price instead to use Platinum Rose.
It has essential rose oil in it as an active ingredient and I have been having faster heals and less skin irritation during my sessions because of this product.
Hustle Butter is really a great company, but I need the absolute best and most pro-active ingredients to help my clients heal so I have been buying and providing my clients with Platinum Rose aftercare for the last several months.
Brian Murphy’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at Third Dimension Tattoo
I like to use a coil machine for black and gray, and in that case I usually stick to a Micky Sharpz or a Keith B.
I use Kwadron needles, 13-15 straight mags, and a 8-14 round shaders.
In most tattoos I use a 7 round liner.
As far as the colors I use, it’s a mix of Moms, Intense, and Eternal Inks.
I usually stick to a Cheyenne Hawk machine, but it breaks down every few months at which point I’m forced to switch to a FK Iron’s rotary.
Andy Barrett’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at Horseshoes and Hand Grenades Tattoo
For the past 5 or 6 years I’ve been using nothing but FK irons rotaries.
My current machine is the Flux.
I love this machine, it makes everything so effortless, and the wireless capabilities are awesome.
Especially for larger pieces, where you need to move around to get to the spot you’re working on.
That, and no longer getting a clip cord snagged on an arm rest is awesome.
I’ve been using the cartridge system ever since Cheyenne first introduced it in ‘08.
As far as needle groupings go, I generally use a tight 7 liner and curved 11 mag for every tattoo.
Then depending on size and style, I may set up something smaller like a bug pin 5 for gray lines/detail lines.
And if it’s bigger I’ll set up anywhere from a 13-19 curved mag.
I prefer curved mags, because I like my colors to look as smooth as possible.
Unless I’m intentionally doing textures.
Most of the needles I use are from Helios, but if I’m doing a traditional tattoo piece or something with bold lines, I’ve found the diamond liners from Tommy’s Supplies to be my favorites as far as thick/clean lines go.
Speaking of Tommy’s Supplies, I’ve been using their Starbrite colors exclusively.
I prefer a slightly thinner pigment dispersion, and find that it doesn’t dry out as easily in the cap, especially since most days I’m tattooing 5-8 hours on a single piece.
The only ink I use other than Starbrite is Allegory Black. I’ve been using their black for about 3 years, and love it for both lining and black and gray work.
Kurt Wiscombe’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at Tattoos For The Individual
Although I have many machines, the main ones that I’ve used for years machines by Micky Bee, Scott Veldhoen, and Richard Pinch.
Recently I’ve discovered Jesse Young’s machines.
I have a few oldies I break out once in a while, including a Percy Waters machine from the 1930’s which I got from Lyle Tuttle!
I have used the same needles for most of my career. 12 sharps.
As for the configurations, for lining I mainly use a 7 round or a loose 7 round.
It’s the needle I feel most comfortable with and the one I find I can do a lot with.
For bolder lines I’ll often use an 11 round (loose) or a hollow point, usually an 18.
I’ve been using those more lately and they can be used as a liner or a shader.
The feel is like using a paint brush and it’s a lot of fun!
I use single needles as well for fine details and texturing.
I prefer the look of these over a tight three and only use a 3 once in a while.
As far as shaders I mainly use a 23 magnum mostly, although sometimes I use a 15 or 11.
All of those configurations would be flat magnums, I almost never use a curved. Typically I use regular or loose mags.
For pigments I use a mix of one color from one place and another from a different brand.
I have a few that I’ve used for years, like Dermaglo and Fantasia.
I know they’ll hold up well.
I think the key in choosing the right pigments is longevity, and it’s hard to experiment with new pigments because you only find out if they are good five to ten years later.
As a matter of fact, I used to use a lot of National pigment, and most of that stayed so good over the years.
As a matter of fact, I’m now thinking about using more National pigment again in the future.
Mark Blanchard’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at Tomb Gallery
I stopped color back in 2013.
Up until then I had a sponsorship with Eternal and it worked great with what I was doing at the time.
I don’t see the point in color for what I do now.
It looks uglier with just black so I stick with dynamic black and eternal white only.
I don’t even use grey wash. Just black gets the job done.
As far as machines, I’ve used all kinds over the years.
There’s no magic machine to me.
If it works and I’m comfortable with the end result then I’m good.
I have bunch of Seth Ciferri, Aaron Cain, Cheyennes, FK Irons.
Those and my recent Dan Kubin machine have been my go to.
With needles, Kingpins are my main choice.
Most tattoos I use 3 and 11 tight liners.
I barely use mags anymore, but if I do they are 15 and 11 mags.
I don’t do sponsor ships. I don’t care to endorse tattoo clothing, and I’m a shit poster boy.
Ken Kile’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at Invicta Tattoo.
Since I do primarily black and grey photo realism, and my usual set up is a bug pin(10) 5 liner, 9 round shader, long taper 7 mag that I use primarily for packing solid black, and then generally a 9 and a 15 mag for shading.
I use all long taper standard flat mags.
I like the sharp corners.
Usually Kwadron cartridges mixed with some Peak cartridges, sometimes black claw.
I’m sponsored by peak and I’ve been running their Kyan pen and Tanza machine for two years.
I made the switch from coils pretty late in the game, and actually the Peak Kyna was the first pen style machine I’ve used.
Switching from metal to disposable tubes was scary enough, so leaving coils behind was a bit of a struggle.
But the cartridge system alone was reason enough to change, was really sick of setting up 5 or 6 machines for every tattoo just so I had the needle groupings I wanted.
When using coils, I’ve always used primarily Keith B machines and/or Aaron Cain, and Black Claw needles on the bar.
Since day 1 I’ve always used dynamic black.
When doing black and grey I’d mix different gradients with a combination of witch hazel/distilled water in 50/50 proportions.
I was sponsored by Empire Inks a few years back, but their black was so concentrated and hard to work with, I just couldn’t get used to it.
It’s my understanding that they’ve since changed or have different viscosity versions of blacks.
I then started using BJ Betts and Intenze’s Formula 23 Black and Greywash set.
I actually loved the set and used it for several years, but ultimately, I’m back to using dynamic and mixing my own grey-wash.
For color, I use fusion ink.
Roey Pentagram’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at Pentagram Tattoo
As far as machine I still use coils.
I have one rotary machine that I use as a secondary shader, but my main preference would be coils.
I feel they tune up more specifically than rotaries and give a better effect on the skin.
Especially in my style of work.
They are more durable than rotaries and their maintenance is easier as well.
Two of my every day machines have been with me since the 2000, and with the exception of broken springs, I never had to replace anything.
I prefer the Micky Sharpz machine as a liner.
As shaders, I use another Micky Sharpz, a Victor Portugal machine, and even a Dragonfly rotary.
I think most of the power units they sell these days are awesome.
I don’t see much difference between them.
Personally I use the one by Critical.
As far as needle configurations, I use 5s, 9s, and 14s as liners.
For shading I use 5 to 17 magnums.
My favorites, the ones I use for most of my work, would be a combo of 5s and 9s or 7s and 11s.
For very large pieces I use a 25 or 39 mag.
As far as inks, I use the Victor Portugal gray wash series by Radiant.
I love its density, it’s easy to put into the skin and it doesn’t make your work area too messy.
As an added bonus, the pigment heals and stays sharp over time.
Benjamin Moss’ Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at Apocalypse Tattoo
Like most things in my life, I prefer things that are handmade, with craftsmanship and care going into each individual piece.
So, most of my tattoo machines are handmade coil machines crafted by tattooers.
When I started tattooing, most of those at the top of the game doing realistic or black and gray tattooing had these strong yet soft coil machines that made almost no sound when tattooing.
It is no easy task to learn to tune a machine like this, but when you do there is nothing like it.
You can blend very smoothly, layer colors over top of each other, and pack in solid color without much damage to the skin, or pain for the client.
It took me years to learn the correct way to tune them, but once I did, I didn’t have to tune my machines for years afterwards, seeing as to how there is so little stress on the machine.
My absolute favorite machines are the shaders from Catfish Carl.
I had him build me one in 2001, and his are still my favorites.
Recently I have been working a lot with Victor Portugal, and his machines have now become my 2nd favorites.
His attention to detail is phenomenal, and not surprisingly each part and dimension is almost exactly the same as what I use when putting together machines.
I also like some of the machines form Coco Fernandez.
I still use metal tubes and grips. Not only does the machine “not feel like a toy’, but the needles run much more smoothly against a steel tip, especially for low running machines.
It is still unbelievable to me that disposable plastic has become the standard in our industry.
It is actually cheaper to pay someone to clean metal tubes than it is to continue to buy and throw away plastic ones.
And if you use an autoclavable Red Rat type of thick grip cover, and lightweight short-coil machines, there is virtually no stress on your hands.
With my needles I am also very picky, and prefer higher end needles where you can use each one in the box, as opposed to the cheaper, low-quality factory ones where at best one out of five is needles is usable.
I currently use Kwadron needles.
Each needle grouping is soldered into correct and even formation, and the quality of the needles and points are top.
For magnums I prefer .30 or 00 bug pin.
For round shaders I prefer 0.25 or 000 bug pin, except for the 3 liner I prefer a .35 (Standard #12) as the thinner ones are descent for little details, but not strong enough to make a nice even line.
For my power supply, I still use a CAT.
Most important to me is an even power current, especially running low voltage machines.
This has one, with no need for conversion adapters in any county.
From Japan where the voltage is 100 to the UK where it is 240.
It is pretty indestructible, and has a lifetime guarantee if you do break it somehow.
I do not use one with a meter, as each machine is a bit different.
It is better to adjust the power by the feeling instead of by a number.
I prefer an on/off switch to a foot pedal.
Mainly for my back, and not having the physical strain of pushing a pedal all day.
The equipment also runs better with less cable for the power to go through.
With ink, I mostly tattoo in black and gray nowadays.
For deep black, I was using Dynamic, but recently I have been using Word Famous Outlining Black as it is darker!
For greywash and lining, I still use Talens Indian Ink, and dilute with water.
I use very large ink caps and dilute each ‘to taste’ for each value, and with larger ink caps it stays relatively uniform throughout the whole session.
There is a lot of theory about what to use for diluting greywash, but it is my opinion that this is mainly hocus-pocus, or marketing, and all you need is non contaminated water.
For color I like Eternal the best.
I trust the brand, like the product, and have asked Tramp extensively about it.
It does not harden quickly during long sessions.
However I still like Starbright for white and yellow.
I think the best whites that I have seen are in traditional tattoos out of Japan, they are still as white after 30+ years!
I have a small amount of white left from a Japanese friend, but with Covid it will be more difficult to get.
When I use color I keep to the simple tones and then dip around in each to tint and mix as I go.
It is important to learn the color wheel and how each color mixes into what and dip accordingly.
I honestly think it looks better and more rich if it has this kind of variation in it rather than straight out of the bottle
Damon Conklin’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at Supergenius Tattoo
- Co-founder of the Seattle Tattoo Convention
I use a Spektra Xion pen with nucleus battery packs for lining shading and coloring.
I love being wireless.
I used a lot of really awesome coil tattoo machines for twenty years, all kinds made by a great group of guys like Soba, Seth Ciferri, Drigenberg, and Juan Puente (just to name a few).
For me though, as an old guy, what the pen lacks in coolness or aesthetic it makes up for in pure ergonomic function.
I was tattooing without wires for the first time about a year ago, and that was right up there with having pizza for the first time!
I just couldn’t believe something this simple could be this good.
I use Cheyenne cartridges.
Fifteens, elevens, and twenty seven curved mag bug pins for shading and coloring.
I use three, seven, and nines for lining.
I’ve tried other stuff but those are the combos that seem to agree with my way of tattooing, and Cheyenne cartridges seem to be the best fit for the machine I use.
I use Fusion inks exclusively, because they are awesome! So is Adam Everett, the mad scientist behind the ink!
Timothy Boor’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at The Bohemian Tattoo Club
Lately I’ve been absolutely in love with the new Flux wireless machine from Fkirons.
I’ve used FKirons machines for around 10 years and have always been pleased with the products they put out but this completely changed the game for me.
I hate cords. Twisting, tangling, snagging all the time.
It’s great to move freely.
As you know, some areas of the body are way easier to reach when you can move around them, without having to adjust your station or the chair the client is in.
I also love the performance of the machine in general.
Extremely smooth and consistent. Super impressed with the battery life.
I’ve tattooed up to eight hours without it turning off.
The operation is very simple and easy to use.
Not to mention, they’re coming out with updates that can be done via Bluetooth technology that are in conjunction with the new Hover power supply.
It’s a pretty revolutionary change in tattooing and it’s something I think a lot of us have been waiting for.
I’m a fan of Peak needles and have been using their products for quite some time.
They have a huge array of needle types and configurations, and I like being able to try different needles and configurations.
Their products have always been consistent.
Overtime I’ve been narrowing down my needle configurations.
I would say 90% of my tattoos are done with a tight five liner, seven round shader, seven curved mag, and a 15 curved Mag.
That’s pretty much my go to for just about everything, although for some effects and with some skin types I do use bug pins.
Mainly for black and gray.
I also am a long time fan of H2Ocean aftercare products.
I appreciate the company’s that are constantly evolving their line.
They also take care of the sponsored artist incredibly well.
I like that the aftercare kits come complete with daily instructions, ones that are very easy for clients to use.
Another aftercare product I love are the second skin type products such as Saniderm, Tegaderm, Dermalize pro, and so on.
I’ve tried a few different ones and I’ve been happy with almost all of them.
It’s an amazing no-brainer method of healing for people who don’t have allergies to adhesives, and it’s one of my most preferred methods.
Other Tattoo Products
Lastly a product that I’ve been loving this year has been ink caps by Stickystripz.
I think caps aren’t a big deal as far as the outcome of a tattoo but these things are so awesome.
If you haven’t tried them you definitely should.
The cap is a funnel shape which makes it easier to get all the ink out of the cap.
There’s a slight edge towards the top which you can tell is a stopping point for fills.
Also the ease-of-use is incredible.
There’s no ointment needed to keep them down.
You don’t have to cut anything apart for custom amounts.
Peel the back off and stick it down and you’re done.
I can’t think of a better way of creating an ink cap.
Also, it’s not necessarily a tattoo product but procreate for the iPad is the greatest thing ever!
Frank LaNatra’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at Into The Woods Gallery
My go to machine is the Inkjecta Flight nano, but I recently tried the Xion and decided to pick one up.
I’m strictly Eternal when it comes to inks except that I use Allegory Black for all my blacks.
As far as needles and configurations, I use True Tubes for all my grips, tubes liners and round shaders and Cheyenne for all my mags.
I use only bugpin liners…3,5,7,9 and round shaders usually 5,7,9,11.
For Mags pretty much all curved mags. 9,13 & 23 for everything.
I use Tatuderm to heal all my work, and that’s pretty much it!
Durb Morrison’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at Red Tree Gallery
- Owner of True Tubes Tattoo Equipment
- Founder & Manager of the Hell City Tattoo Fest.
Well bro, you know I use all True Tube tattoo supply stuff at the moment!
For my set up, I like to outline with coil tattoo machines, like the Bindu tattoo machine that I designed with Soba at Workhorse Irons.
I’ve actually converted my coil liner to run off of RCA battery packs that sit vertically above the coil liner machine.
When I switch over to shading and color, I typically transfer to a rotary machine nowadays.
I’ve been using the Nottet machines as well as Mast rotaries.
As far as the needles that I outline with, I use true traditional tattoo needles and I usually line with a seven liner, nine liner or eleven liner.
For any finer lines I use a five liner.
The cartridge needles that I use when shading and coloring are true cartridge tattoo needles.
Nowadays I set everything up on the True tattoo tray system with the True tray covers for a quick and easy set up.
On top of my true tray I use H2Ocean nothing appointment as well as their aquaTat ointment.
I like to have a little cup of Bactine sitting there while I’m working to help numb the tattoo.
If I’m outlining with a coil, I typically I use Ergo squish ring tubes from True Tubes, and True grips or True Tattoo Tape.
Often I will outline with just an original steel tip disposable true tube.
I’ve pretty much tried to get away from power supplies.
I use mostly batteries and am almost completely wireless these days.
I use Eternal Inks for everything.
Dan Henk’s Tattoo Equipment
- Co-owner and Artist at The Abyss Fine Art and Tattoo
I started out with Time machines, a full set of Starbright inks, and only a 3 liner and 8 round shader to work with.
Over time, through a lot of trial and error, I transitioned to my current set up.
I started with coil machines, moved to first pneumas, then six months later, when I complained to Nate Beavers that it cost me $600 to ship the compressor to and from the Hell City convention, he turned me onto the Cheyenne Hawk.
They met up with me and sponsored me at that convention.
Their early machines were very hit or miss, breaking down all the time, and their needles became unavailable for a while.
So I went back to coils, and Tramp Walker supplied me with five machines and all the needles and tubes I needed.
Then the Cheyenne bounced back, and it was hit or miss with them until I picked up an Injecta and loved it.
Until it broke down and they took six months to repair and return it to me.
Just as they were sponsoring me, FK Irons lured me away at the Philly Convention and I used their very first machine, the Edge 1.
That had issues, but they were always readily available.
They gave me a new one, then an Edge 2 later, then a Halo, then a Halo 2, and finally a Xion.
That bogged down on me, and they replaced it in a timely fashion.
Then they switched management, grew real unresponsive, and I switched to the Eternal Viper.
I procured a ratchet grip with an adjustable stroke, and I love it.
That is now my workhorse.
It’s already a 1/2” grip, but I thicken it up each use by wrapping compression tape around it.
I hear the new cordless FK Irons machine is great, but I also hear it is a hard hitter with no give, so i’m reticent to try it.
As far as needles, currently I use a whole litany, from 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 liners, to 7, 9, 14, and 18 round shaders.
I use 7 bugpin mags, and 9, 11, 15, and 28 curved mags.
My regular go to needles are 5 or 7 liners, 9 round shaders, and 15 mags, but it all depends on the piece.
As far as inks, I use all Eternals now.
At first I wasn’t a fan of their white, their blue, or their black.
I discussed my issue with the first two (the white was too yellow, not a real titanium white, and the blue was more of a cornflower blue than a true blue).
They changed them on the spot, and I’m super happy with the result now.
The black was too grainy for grey wash, and at first I used Dynamic, but now they have a new black out named Max Black and it does the trick.
Starbright still has some great colors, their yellow and white hold up to this day, but some, like the brown and the grey, just don’t go in the skin.
I tried Intenze when I worked for Mario Barth, but had some real bad red and blue reactions.
Demoglow was great, but half the time they wouldn’t be there and asked me to leave my credit card info on their answering machine.
That struck me as super sketchy.
Fantasia was better to deal with, but when I found Eternal, it was better still.
I tried Alla Prima and Waverly, and hated both.
In fact, I made Eternal’s first set, their Zombie color set, after Alla Prima gave me their’s at a convention and I hated it so much I told Tramp “let me make you a real set”.
Adam, who was formerly at Eternal, created fusion, and the few colors I’ve tried have been great, but weren’t better than the Eternal, so I see no reason to switch.
As far as a power source, I’ve been through quite a few.
Currently I use a Critical Atom, but the Eikon’s I used were great as well.
I remember one I bought blew up on me in Europe (despite saying it was rated for Europe), and one (the Leadfoot pedal) sponsored me, but despite being a great idea they just couldn’t work out the bugs and it kept falling apart on me.
Robby Latos’ Tattoo Equipment
- Artist & Co-Owner of Damascus Tattoo Company
I’m really not a technical guy, I’ve always just gone with the what feels right to me.
With equipment I go with what feels good in my hand.
The products I choose are those that are of a high quality and retain their consistency.
World famous’s Black Sabbath in is my go to as far as inks.
I like that it’s super pigment heavy, and I feel like it gives me rich heals .
The needles I use are peak.
My main groupings are 13 mag curves, 7 round shaders, 9 round shaders, and 5 liner.
I like the smaller needles for detail and texture and the mag for more general tone.
All of those are put in the skin with a Cheyenne spirit machine.
Just light and smooth!
As far as a glide I use redemption.
I also recommend it for aftercare.
Marshall Benett’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at Eternal Tattoos
I’ve tried many different supplies and products through out my 24 years in tattooing.
From machines to paper towels, here’s a general summary of some of my likes and why.
I feel a seasoned artist can tattoo well with any machine, but of course we all have our favorites for various reasons.
Although I was brought up using coil machines and own about 40 of them, all of which I cherish, I rarely use coils anymore.
I’m all ll rotary now and have used most of the ones out there now.
I have an arsenal of machines I bounce around with and what I use often depends on the job I’m doing, but my mainstays are the Axys Fehu and the Valhalla.
Fehu for black and gray and the Valhalla for its versatility.
I also can go to my Neotat Vivace for almost anything as well, especially line work.
Again I have too many machines to mention them all here!
As a painter uses many brushes, we all have many tools as well.
As far as points (needles) I use Helios cartridges almost exclusively.
Typically it’s curved mags mostly, but I’m always open to try any new products.
There are so many reputable companies producing great tools and supplies, it’s hard to say which is better.
I feel it’s mostly based off of personal preference.
As far as a tattoo glide, I use H20ceans CBD or Nothing, for its smoothness and their ability to keep redness to a minimum in my black and gray work.
I also use blue green foam soap, it’s quite soothing to the client.
I also like MD Wipeouts wipes when I can get them.
They are very absorbent and leave no linty residue behind.
As far as aftercare, my customers are veterans and have techniques that work well for them.
Again there are so many good ways to heal tattoos it’s hard to label one method as best for all clients.
My inks are exclusively Eternal.
As mentioned I do mostly black and gray and I use my signature series of grey-wash available from Eternal.
Lastly, I also use use Electrum Green Gel stencil primer, it keeps the fine visible details through long sessions.
Paul Tochluk’s Tattoo Equipment
- Co-owner & Artist at The Abyss Fine Art & Tattoo
I feel my style is consistently changing.
I don’t really have a specific set up I adhere to.
Currently I feel I have a pretty loose style, realism with a lot of added texture.
The machine I use the most is the FK Irons Flux.
It’s super punchy and it’s wireless!
The closer I can get to the feeling of drawing on someone the better, and this machine does that.
It has no wires, which is great, and I’m lazy!
I have a ton of other machines but I feel FK Irons has always been consistent, and their machines have never broke down on me.
I have to say, I do miss the precision of a coil though.
I use Empire Inks.
I feel for the way I tattoo, Empire Inks hold up well over time and they stay saturated, not really lightening up over time.
For everything, I just add water to create the different tones, all while using the darkest pigment they manufacture.
As far as needles, I honestly just have a cabinet full of all different sizes.
It’s a mess! Depending on what the design is, I range from 3-9 liners, 5-18 round shaders, 7-27 mags.
I tend to be all over the place.
Ron Russo’s Tattoo Equipment
- Owner & Artist at 570 Tattooing Company
For machines I mostly use the Inkjecta, but I’ve been running the Eternal Viper lately and love it.
I tattoo faster with the Viper, and I feel that it keeps pace with both my mental flow and my physical grip.
Rook also just sent me a machine but I haven’t used it yet.
I am super excited to try it out, I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from artists I respect.
I love tattooing with color, but I can’t say I don’t enjoy some black & gray occasionally.
I’ve used Eternal Ink since the beginning of my tattoo career, although I have been using the Allegory black for the past year and I can’t say enough good about it.
It holds up as a nice rich black even when the tattoo is healed.
I made a flesh tone ink set for Eternal Ink years ago.
I was mixing everything in my caps to get one certain color, the choices being so limited back then.
I started blending inks by the bottle in order to try and get the initial 12 colors where I wanted, and when I made a set it took few months.
Fortunately, Eternal stepped in and ended up mastering the color set.
As far as needles I’m not really picky.
I use Peak & T Tech mostly but I always love trying different brands, and have found that I like the Red dot carts as well.
Lately, I’ve also been trying the Quadrons.
In fact, I use more needles than is really necessary for most tattoos.
If I think I may need a needles, I pull it out, not to mention that I feel a lot of the cartridges dull up after a few hours of use.
To tell the truth, I don’t think there’s a cartridge I’m totally thrilled about.
If I’m wrong, send me some on the house and I’ll tell you what I think!
The needle groups I use most for lining would be 5 rounds and 7 rounds.
I like to use round shaders, and I find myself using round shaders more often than mags, but I’m always a fan of the curved (soft edge) mag.
In that, I use all different groupings. It all depends on the tattoo.
As for aftercare I use Hustle butter and the Hustle butter rinse.
I feel it really cleans the tattoo up and keeps it moisturized during the tattooing process, especially on drier skin folks!
I feel that its a great product that has advanced continually over the years.
Not to mention, the company is run by great people!
We have talked about the importance of high-quality tattoo equipment and how this can have a significant impact on the final result.
It’s up to each artist to decide upon the brands and characteristics of each product that he will use, however this has to be in the benefit of both sides, namely the artist and the client.
Each tattoo artist has a unique style that they have developed through their career and with time, it’s good to experience with different products, until the artist builds his perfect tattoo toolkit.
Another way to put this, the quality of the tattoo supply kit will translate into the quality of his work.
Consequently, when a client is happy with their tattoo, they are more likely to recommend the artist or to come back for another sitting/tattoo session.
Dan Henk has been working in and as a part of the tattoo community for 20 years. He writes novels, illustrates magazines and books, and owns The Abyss Fine Art & Tattoo Gallery in Long Beach, NY, and competes in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jujitsu. Check out all his adventures on danhenk.com!