Tattoo Kits

Tattoo kits are a terrific way of preparing yourself for your first tattoo. Most people start by locating a company that sells tattoo supplies and purchasing the extreme basics - a tattoo machine, power supply (with foot pedal and clipcord) and a few needles/grips. They soon come to realize that there is so much more required for tattooing. Even an apprentice tattoo artist makes mistakes though. Usually, by discussing the apprentice's needs for beginning a tattoo, a competent tattoo supply company can recommend a variety of apprentice tattoo kits depending on the requirements and technical needs of the apprentice.

Even at a basic level, a good tattoo kit will contain proper medical and safety supplies. Nitrile gloves, sharps collector (for storage of used tattoo needles or disposable grips before proper disposal), a surface disinfectant such as cavicide (hospital grade cleaner for killing hepatitis, TB, HIV and herpes), good quality tattoo ink (many tattoo kits get sold with OEM brand inks that are far inferior to a good name brand tattoo ink) and some kits even go as far as offering barrier plastic for protecting clipcords and tattoo machines from blood born pathogens during the tattoo process.

Something to consider when purchasing a tattoo kit is whether or not an autoclave will be available at the shop - believe it or not, some shops no longer utilize an autoclave sterilizer. With the growing use of disposable tattoo grips and premade, single use tattoo needles, some shops are opting to NOT own an autoclave and simply dispose of their presterilized tattoo grips and needles after tattooing - further removing the risk of cross contamination between customers. That being said, before purchasing a tattoo kit, the decision to use disposable tattoo grips vs steel tattoo grips needs to be well considered. The advantage of purchasing steel grips - better balance, vibration dampening, and re-usability, the downside being you'll always need to scrub, soak and sterilize (autoclave) your equipment. With disposables the main advantage is safety and convenience - you can always guarantee the grip has been sterilized, never used before and you simply dispose of it immediately after the tattoo is complete. No scrubbing and sterilization of the tattoo grip is ever needed - just throw it away.

Some apprentice tattoo artists know what they need, perhaps having tattooed at a previous shop, or under the 'purchasing guidance' of their mentor. In some cases, the professional tattoo artist needs to purchase a kit - whether it's simply upgrading their shop equipment or opening a new station for tattooing at the shop. Other times, a tattoo kit can offer such a good deal on basic tattoo equipment it simply makes more sense to purchase the whole kit than just a few items.

Perhaps one of the most important factors in purchasing a starter tattoo kit is not the initial purchase price, but the overall quality of the company you are purchasing from. Sure, it looks like a good deal now, but what about later, when it's time to buy more supplies? Was the tattoo machine good or did you have a lot of problems with the cheap one you received? Was the tattoo ink worth purchasing again, or did you find you had to redo all the tattoos because the ink never stayed in the skin? Did everything rust? More importantly, does the company sell the same items to keep you supplied with your tattooing business or do you now have to locate another company to buy from? Repeat business is often rewarded by the better tattoo companies. How do you find out? Call them. They usually have a toll free number. Introduce yourself, mention you purchased a kit from them (an approximate date is helpful) and provide any feedback on the kit (are you happy with it? let them know!). Tell them you're interested in restocking some supplies and ask them what kind of deals they have going - you can often get a better price from a happy salesperson than you would normally receive online through their website.

Purchasing a tattoo kit is not just about the kit itself - it's about the business relationship you develop with the company you buy your tattoo supplies from. Get to know your supplier (or at least a sales rep) let them keep you informed of new products, materials and sales throughout the season.