Tattoos were, at one point, strictly the domain of drunken sailors and indigenous “savages” from far away, exotic locales. However, in recent decades the art of tattooing has become an acceptable, relatively mainstream method of body ornamentation. Tattoo parlors can be found in nearly every city, and every country in the world.

For the modern tattoo artist, quality tattoo supplies are essential. Without the proper ink, needles, medical and sterilization equipment a tattoo parlor doesn’t stand much of a chance of survival. Many cities require that these parlors also maintain an environment akin to a hospital when it comes to cleanliness.

The tattoo machine is often referred to as a tattoo artist’s “shootin’ iron”. They are by far the most essential item on any list of tattoo supplies. The tattoo gun uses multiple needles to inject the ink into the skin, which is how tattoos are created. Traditional techniques, before the invention of the tattoo machine, were much more invasive than they are today. Some cultures would rub ink or other coloring agents into carvings made in the skin, while others would use inject the ink using sharpened sticks or animal bone.

Ink is another important part of tattoo supplies. Many traditionally applied tattoos are limited in color to just a few pigments. However, most reputable modern tattoo parlors will have a rainbow of colors from which to choose. Many of today’s top tattoo artists are renowned for their brilliantly colored body art. Tattoo magazines are filled with examples of bright, colorfully decorated arms, legs and torsos.

Any list of tattoo supply is incomplete without the inclusion of a range of different types of needles. A tattoo needle is actually a configuration of several needles, with different configurations being used for different purposes. “Rounds” refer to a specific configuration in which the needles are combined in a circular pattern. Tight circles are most often used for drawing lines, while looser circles are used for shading. “Flats” are assemblies in which the needles are put together side by side. They are most commonly used for shading, but can also be used for writing in a calligraphy style.

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