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Ink not going into skin: apprenticeship saga


Ari Ed

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26 Sep 2019
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Ari
I will begin this by saying I'm an apprentice, this is my story of today that maybe will help someone else. Any more experienced people feel free to correct/chime in;

First client of the day, probably 4th piece on an actual human, 6/7th if you count on myself. Piece was a jellyfish.

Shaved, washed, alcohol, stencil, dry, Vaseline, set up machine while drying, make chit chat. 7RL, black lining ink. Did the first line..barely took hold. Tried again..wiped, no line, skin is already flaring. (yes I know some are probably in horror right now! I was).

Pulled owner over under pretence of power supply glitching, quietly told him my issue, took a verbal beating.. he told me to up to 8V (the magic number right?) and walked off.

Tried again, still same issue. No bleeding, just ink not holding. Tried getting owner, but shrugged off told to go to 8.8.

Switched needles, new disposable tip, tried different line.. faint grey line but definitely not black. I'm sweating, the client is saying it's even more painful now. Pulled other guy (not owner). Told me to hold machine more vertical and more ink, another verbal beating. Still no dice. Try deeper. Against better judgement so help me I tried it. More swelling, I'm in horror. Got told to just go over the lines a few times each and took the verbal beating to refuse.

The skin was red, and while owner told me to keep going I knew something wasn't right. Told client that my power supply was still glitching, was very sorry but would have to reschedule for a couple days time, discount would be given etc.

I tried talking to owner/other guy and got no where, so went online for some answers, went completely back to basics. Checked power supply, machine gaps, if tube had clogged, needle tips, the ink I was using, etc.

Decided the only thing for it was to use myself as a guinea pig. Put a basic stencil on, tried different angles. Some improvement. Different depths, riding needle/riding tube, more stretch, less stretch. More Vaseline, less vaseline. Changed grommets. Different hand speed, tried different volts (owner just kept saying up it). Eventually went stuff it and back to the machine. Measured gaps with my coin, slightly reduced the gap, made contact gap ever so slightly smaller than armature gap and noticed that the so called holy grail of 8V (which owner had me up to 8.8 at one point) had actually slightly damaged contact. Cleaned it, turned the damaged side away, checked over machine.

This time round, sweet spot was 5.4V (previously it had been running at 6.6) tried a line on my skin (won't lie my ankle is killing me at this point ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚).. perfect. Clean, bold lines. Still have to fix and make what I can of what the badly tuned machine + apprentice troubles has done but.

I guess the short version of my story is just because many people say 8V solves everything, it doesn't. A small change in machine tuning can change even the same machines sweet spot and if your ink isn't taking don't just up the volts or go deeper/over same section again. If the skin is going red straight away, don't just ignore it.

My inexperience probably shows, and when the client comes back I'm giving her the tattoo for free and paying the owner myself because from using myself as guinea pig the owners advice would have friggin hurt and I'm praying she doesn't scar.

If your machine isn't right, the tattoo will not work out right. Hand speed, angle, needle depth etc won't help you if you don't have the machine running smoothly and at the right CPS. Know your machines and take care of them

My lesson very much learned. Thanks for reading.
 



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fylfot

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we've all had days like that, can't believe the people you are apprenticing under didn't help you out more, seems like it it happens quite often judging by a few of the latest posts on here. Glad you got it sorted, a hard but valuable lesson learned.
 

marked 4 life

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First off, what machine are you using, i can see it is a coil by contact adjustment comment, every machine us different, using a coin can get you in the ball park but further adjustment will be required.
What size needle were you using?
What part of the body are you tattooing?

Our shop trainee had exactly the same problem recently, i could see her struggling so went across to her, she was tattooing the tricep area while the client was sitting up, first off the client should of been lying face down with her arm stretched out to create a flatter surface but she didnt want to apparently, to help our trainee and to prove what the problem was i told her to hang more needle and i stretched the skin while she tattooed it, the line went in black, i explained to her regardless of what the customer wants, you are in charge, if you want her to lye a certain way, she has to do it, the only exception is for medical reasons as i experienced recently a young lady who could not lye on her front due to a stoner bag.

I tattooed a girls breast last Saturday and first line in i struggled but i knew what it was straight away.

By tattooing yourself on your ankle you have not identfied the problem and you will struggle again when your client comes next time.

It sounds lke your mentors are not the best, do yourself a favour and join our premium members section, you will learn a hell of a lot in there ๐Ÿ‘
 
Last edited:

troub1edsou1z

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That's horrible that your mentor would have you risk tearing someone up. Anyway, you now learned an important lesson. I use coil machines exclusively and I usually do a maintenance check every week or 2. Coil machines require a good bit of maintenance to keep them running in optimal condition. I also use a piece of fine sand paper and during my maintenance checks i will quickly sand the contact screw, and where it hits the spring and also the top of coil and bottom of abar. These areas are where most carbon is built up and can cause the issues you had.

Another bit of advise is if using coil machines, the more volts you send through it the harder and hotter its going to run (which is not what you want your machine to do) Check the bottom of your contact screw to make sure the spring isn't eating or wearing out a spot on the contact and vise versa.
My daily liner will push 18rl at about 5.5v. I use 5rl, 7rl, and 9rl alot and my liner will push them at 4.5v
 

fylfot

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That's horrible that your mentor would have you risk tearing someone up. Anyway, you now learned an important lesson. I use coil machines exclusively and I usually do a maintenance check every week or 2. Coil machines require a good bit of maintenance to keep them running in optimal condition. I also use a piece of fine sand paper and during my maintenance checks i will quickly sand the contact screw, and where it hits the spring and also the top of coil and bottom of abar. These areas are where most carbon is built up and can cause the issues you had.

Another bit of advise is if using coil machines, the more volts you send through it the harder and hotter its going to run (which is not what you want your machine to do) Check the bottom of your contact screw to make sure the spring isn't eating or wearing out a spot on the contact and vise versa.
My daily liner will push 18rl at about 5.5v. I use 5rl, 7rl, and 9rl alot and my liner will push them at 4.5v
Tom, this is a long shot but do you know what size front and rear springs you are running and what size cap on your daily liner? i know it doesn't mean jack in reality due to length and thickness of the springs as well as a bar position etc but just wondered. My favourite liner puts in a decent line but i normally have to run it around 7-8v which on long sessions see's it getting warm and i get more front spring errosion than i would like.
 

troub1edsou1z

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My machine has 18's front and rear, but the front spring is cut down to about a 1/4" (6mm) wide and might be about 1 1/4" (32mm?) long. I also have a med/long throw
 

fylfot

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My machine has 18's front and rear, but the front spring is cut down to about a 1/4" (6mm) wide and might be about 1 1/4" (32mm?) long. I also have a med/long throw
Thanks for that, i guess with a thin 18 you have strength and longevity due to the thickness but more flex than a standard 18 due to the narrow width, cool, something for me to try out.
 

soulstare22

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I was having issues with lining recently as well, for my larger lines like rs1218 I would get very inconsistent line width, sometimes they would be fat and bold sometimes skinny and light. Turns out the issue was with the tip ink saturation, the tip had to be completely saturated like refilled after every line inorder to get the same consistent lines. Less of an issue with smaller needles though but thick liners really need a fully loaded clip.

If the lines aren't holding always make sure the tip/inkwell is fully saturated, and the skin is fully stretched; and from then you can really only go: in no particular order: slower hand speed, deeper needle into the skin, and higher voltage. That is the most obvious principle but there are plenty of other variables as well. Check the needle tip is parallel with the tube tip. Maybe ink is too viscous add a few drops of water to it. If it's a really stretchy and squishy spot you might need to turn the machine up and go extra slow. There's a spectrum between blownout/overworked skin and bloodlining. The perfect line is somewhere in the middle but the trick is understanding how to control where your lines are on that spectrum.
 

Ari Ed

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26 Sep 2019
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Adelaide, Australia
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Ari
That's horrible that your mentor would have you risk tearing someone up. Anyway, you now learned an important lesson. I use coil machines exclusively and I usually do a maintenance check every week or 2. Coil machines require a good bit of maintenance to keep them running in optimal condition. I also use a piece of fine sand paper and during my maintenance checks i will quickly sand the contact screw, and where it hits the spring and also the top of coil and bottom of abar. These areas are where most carbon is built up and can cause the issues you had.

Another bit of advise is if using coil machines, the more volts you send through it the harder and hotter its going to run (which is not what you want your machine to do) Check the bottom of your contact screw to make sure the spring isn't eating or wearing out a spot on the contact and vise versa.
My daily liner will push 18rl at about 5.5v. I use 5rl, 7rl, and 9rl alot and my liner will push them at 4.5v
Yeah honestly the more time I spend with these guys the more I dislike them. They're not helpful, it's like they're resentful that I'm there and act like I'm stealing their income or something to say the least. Which doesn't work since I'm not getting paid (5 days I'm cleaning and setting up shop), even for the occasional human piece I do. The work they do isn't fantastic, and only took the place as apprenticeships are few and far between round here. Figured it'd get my foot in the door but now I'm wondering. The times the "advice" I get is outright wrong is growing, I spend more time learning on my own at home than I do there. Now im at the stage where I'm tempted to call it quits and try and go somewhere else but I don't want to say that I've apprenticed at the studio I'm in since that'd probably be received worse than saying I practiced on my own (artists around here don't want an apprentice to have ever touched a machine, even just running brushes/pencils in the end for practice dealing with weight and vibration)

I'm screwed I think ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ maybe I'll manage to make friends with an artist that can teach me on the side or say I apprenticed for them instead ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿคฃ
 

Ari Ed

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26 Sep 2019
Messages
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Location
Adelaide, Australia
First Name
Ari
First off, what machine are you using, i can see it is a coil by contact adjustment comment, every machine us different, using a coin can get you in the ball park but further adjustment will be required.
What size needle were you using?
What part of the body are you tattooing?

Our shop trainee had exactly the same problem recently, i could see her struggling so went across to her, she was tattooing the tricep area while the client was sitting up, first off the client should of been lying face down with her arm stretched out to create a flatter surface but she didnt want to apparently, to help our trainee and to prove what the problem was i told her to hang more needle and i stretched the skin while she tattooed it, the line went in black, i explained to her regardless of what the customer wants, you are in charge, if you want her to lye a certain way, she has to do it, the only exception is for medical reasons as i experienced recently a young lady who could not lye on her front due to a stoner bag.

I tattooed a girls breast last Saturday and first line in i struggled but i knew what it was straight away.

By tattooing yourself on your ankle you have not identfied the problem and you will struggle again when your client comes next time.

It sounds lke your mentors are not the best, do yourself a favour and join our premium members section, you will learn a hell of a lot in there ๐Ÿ‘
Hand built coils, frames and coil covers taken from a dragonhawk, extra parts from a tattoo supply store.

9RL, dynamic black ink. Inside upper arm, just above elbow. Client was on back with arm outstretched, stretched for every line.

Planning on premium section, just having issues as is with unpaid apprenticeship, buying my own supplies and still trying to make ends meet for me and my daughter.
 

fylfot

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9 Jun 2012
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david
Hand built coils, frames and coil covers taken from a dragonhawk, extra parts from a tattoo supply store.

9RL, dynamic black ink. Inside upper arm, just above elbow. Client was on back with arm outstretched, stretched for every line.

Planning on premium section, just having issues as is with unpaid apprenticeship, buying my own supplies and still trying to make ends meet for me and my daughter.
Inside upper arm is a difficult place to put in solid lines compared to a nice taut calf.
 

soulstare22

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20 Jan 2019
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Location
china
First Name
Timmy
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Hand built coils, frames and coil covers taken from a dragonhawk, extra parts from a tattoo supply store.

9RL, dynamic black ink. Inside upper arm, just above elbow. Client was on back with arm outstretched, stretched for every line.

Planning on premium section, just having issues as is with unpaid apprenticeship, buying my own supplies and still trying to make ends meet for me and my daughter.
upper arm, especially around the armpit/innerbicep/tricep is really difficult to get ink in for just about every technique. I feel like sometimes i could turn the machine up to 15v and stick 2 to 3 times the needle depth of a regular spot like the thigh and I would still need to go back and line it two or three times.

Stretch the area as much as possible, even try to put the arm in an extended position instead, go slower, increase needle depth and use the punchiest machine you have. Coil machines work better for elastic areas. If there is an area of solid fill, you can use it to experiment with different machine settings for you lining, I mean even if you blow it out it's all solid fill right? lol jk try to minimize blow outs as much as possible as they still cause scar tissue and the area will be raised.

You'll learn with enough experience a good mentor can only help you so much anyway, but they are still important.
 
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