What Equipment Do You Need to Start Tattooing

People have always been in love with tattoos. Always. Really, tattooing has been around for a very long time, about 10,200 BC long. Tattooing has been practiced everywhere in the world and now is even more popular than ever. People are either raving about the very popular finger statement tattoos or there is a wave of articles on Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin (or Rihanna and Drake, or Jourdan Dunn and Cara Delevingne) getting matching tattoos, or Angelina Jolie tattooing three more parts of her body, or James Franco tattooing Emma Watson’s face somewhere on his body, and even Canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau showing off his arm tattoo. There are “we’re in love” tattoos and there are the breakup ones. There are even very popular reality shows that follow the lives of tattoo artists and unbelievably popular Instagram pages dedicated to tattooing with millions of followers.

A Few Things to Know

Remember to check your state laws. Legal statuses of tattooing differ from state to state. For a professional tattoo business, proper certification is a must. And since requirements are different everywhere, it is always important to check your certification, especially if you relocate. There are even some state laws that require you to go through CPR, first aid, and professional training on all of the bloodborne pathogens. Of course, at some point you will be dealing with the health department, so your affairs should be in order and, it goes without saying, you should work as the health inspector is checking your business every single day.


Hire talented artists. Or, if you are thinking of working on your own, enroll in a tattoo artist programs. They are time-consuming (range anywhere from 12 to 24 months) and are quite costly but are well worth the time and money. This kind of education provides you with all necessary tools to successfully run your business, ensure you are properly educated and trained, and give you the chance to practice, which is crucial in this business.

Follow the trends. Yes, tattooing is an art and we might like to think that art is always relevant and eternal. But we promise staying on top of things and constantly updating your portfolio and offering your customers “tattoos of the day” will bring up profits.


Offer versatility. Any tattoo salon should also offer piercing services. They go hand-in-hand so there is no need to lose business. Take a course on body piercing and drive your profits up. And, we cannot stress this enough, permanent makeup tattooing is back in a big way. This is the artistry to learn and to offer in your salon. This is something that can literally be offered to every single person. It is a fantastic way to dramatically and instantly grow your business. Become a pro in eyebrow microblading, take a course on scalp micropigmentation, and learn lip tint or lash enhancement tattooing.


What Equipment Do You Need to Start Tattooing?

A tattoo machine and a tattoo chair are the two most important pieces of equipment, and you need to research and pay extra attention when shopping for them. This is the equipment that will build your business. We are not including autoclaves in this very important list of two, as we will touch on how to sterilize tattoo equipment separately.


The Tattoo Machine (Gun)

There are literally a thousand choices available, and, of course, you have to get informed and choose the right one for you. You don’t have to understand all the engineering innovations, but you have to always remember: a good machine equals good work and a bad machine equals horrific results so always opt for the best tattoo supplies. Carefully look at the brands and models. Weigh all your options when deciding between a coil and rotary machine – those are the two most common options. They both are great pieces of equipment; just learn their pros and cons and make an informed decision.


The rotary machine is very quiet, much more gentle than coil, and is less damaging to the skin. It is very easy to use even for a beginner. The machine provides a sufficient filling and smooth consistent needle movement. But, with this machine, it is much harder to achieve proper shading, and the lines are more difficult to make. Thus, as the needle moves very fast, you can easily get those “stitched” lines that all tattoo artists despise and dread.

If you go with the coil machine, you are sure to have better tattoo shading and much smoother lines. It works way better with large needles. With coil machines, you have much greater control and they are much easily modified. However, note that they are definitely not the quiet type and you have to be relatively advanced to be able to work with one.

So, assess your or your tattoo artist’s skill level, think of your customers’ needs, research machine companies, pick one with a reputable name that works for you, and you’ll have yourself a great piece of tattooing equipment.

The Chair

In the tattooing business, as with anything else in the beauty industry, commitment and persistence matter. Here’s an example: Mathew Whelan, a British gentleman, has spent altogether 300 hours and a cool 27,000 thousand dollars on tattooing 80% on his body. Just think about that. Yes, it is an extreme example, but you will have a lot of clients that would literally spend days in your chair paying you tons of money. So, invest in a great chair. This is also something in the line of “make it or break it” kind of things. Plus, a good chair for tattooing is a must for the artist as well. There is no way anyone can deliver results with back and neck problems that are inevitable if you are deprived of quality equipment that is easily adjustable and is designed to fit your needs.


Modern chair models are everything and more. New generation chairs have memory foam, are covered with fantastic silky leather that is pleasant to touch, and is also very easy to clean and disinfect. The seats in all of these new tattooing chairs are all orthopedic.