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Tattoo Artists

The Job

When a person decides to get a tattoo, they approach the design process in one of two ways. Some people either have a specific image in mind and describe it to the artist or provide a photo of the person, object, or other subject that they want as a tattoo to the artist. Others are not sure what they want and visit a tattoo shop (or parlor) to consult with a tattoo artist regarding potential designs. The artist will have hundreds—and sometimes thousands—of images on hand that the customer can review and choose from. During the initial consultation, the tattoo artist provides information on the cost, time commitment required to create the tattoo, and sterilization and other safety procedures used at the shop, as well as answers any questions from the client.

Once the design has been selected, the artist removes the disposable tattooing equipment from sterile packaging in front of the client, then shaves and disinfects the area that will be tattooed. The artist usually draws or stencils a basic outline of the tattoo onto the customer’s skin. They first outline the tattoo, then gradually fill in the rest of the tattoo—adding shading, various colors, and design elements as needed. They use an electrically powered tattoo machine that penetrates the skin by about a millimeter and deposits a tiny amount of ink into a specific area. A tattoo machine features a sterilized needle, a tube that draws the ink through the machine, an electric motor, and a foot pedal that controls the vertical movement of the needle. When the tattoo is complete, the artist uses a sterile wipe to remove any blood and plasma (it’s not uncommon for a small amount of bleeding to occur during the tattooing process) and covers the tattoo with a sterile bandage. The artist provides the client with detailed instructions on how to keep the tattooed area clean and avoid infection.

When a tattoo artist is not working, he or she spends a lot of time finding new artistic inspirations for their tattoos, developing their artistic ability, updating their portfolios, and promoting their work on social media and their personal blog.

Some tattoo artists work in cosmetic tattooing, in which tattooing treatments are used to improve the appearance of scars or lip symmetry, create eyebrows or an eyelash line, camouflage alopecia/hair loss, or improve other body issues.

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