What Tools & Equipment Do You Need for Tattooing?

Learn what tools and equipment you need to get started in the tattoo business from acclaimed tattoo artist James Vaughn in this Howcast video.

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Think you have what it takes to be a tattoo artist? Take this crash course in tattooing from acclaimed tattoo artist James Vaughn, who teaches you how to set up and operate a tattoo machine; choose tattoo supplies; prepare skin for a tattoo; draw on skin; bandage a tattoo; get a tattoo apprenticeship, and much more.

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Tattooing tools and equipment, the most important is the most coveted tattoo machine. Do not ever call it a gun because we ain't shooting no ink in people, all right? I support my good friend Danny Gingerberg. He makes one of the best machines on the market. A machine is very important. There are a billion machines out there. You can find them anywhere, but they're not all good. There's a lot of engineering involved that a lot of people don't really understand. But a machine is what makes your craft good or bad. A tattoo machine can make or break a tattoo and if you don't have good equipment you're not going to do a good tattoo. You'll be struggling to learn better things in this business. Of course, you have your tattoo tubes. A lot of people use disposables now. True Tube is a really good example and I use steel tubes. I'm old school. I can't stand the weight difference. There's a big weight difference in when you use a metal tube and you use a disposable tube because mainly when you're using a tube to work. If you have a heavy machine, your tube actually counterbalances the weight so it doesn't have so much fatigue on your hands. Basically, a blitz tube, a standard tube, is a really good quality and of course you have your needles. Needle selection is really - there are so many companies and you also have to search out really good quality companies to purchase your items from. The needles are really important because in conjunction with the machine, it also actually makes or breaks a tattoo. If you have a company that's not reputable and you could possibly have a hook in it, which there are some companies that one out of three needles are not good. So if you use a reputable company that you get your needles from, you're going to actually also make or break a tattoo and we all want to do a good tattoo.

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  • James Vaughn

    James Vaughn is the most awarded tattoo artist on the East Coast. He specializes in neotraditional Japanese art and cover-ups and is the owner of Straight A Tattoo of Asheboro, NC and Emerald City Tattoo of Greensboro, NC.