Had a bad time tattooing myself for the first time, looking to improve.


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Seigard

Basic
Joined
25 Aug 2021
Messages
8
Location
Turkey
First Name
Seigard
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Male
After a couple of months on fake skins, I wanted to finally try something small on myself. However it got out of hand very quickly as problems snowballed and in a fit of frustration I went and tried an even harder tattoo than what I had planned. The first one that had frustrated me turned out acceptable however the 2nd one is very upsetting. It was supposed to be a sun, so a circle and straight lines but it all got super wonky and with different line sizes. The stencil had worn off almost immediately and I still went at it free hand, while also tattooing in reverse since it's on my leg. In hindsight I see how that was a tough and pointless challenge to take on and patience would have helped a lot.
Since I wrapped up my tattoo, I cannot help but feel very defeated, I was hoping for a better first time and I would like to hear how it went for you in order to ground myself in reality. I want to learn from this experience instead of give up on tattooing and I would very much appreciate some information about the problems I had.

  • Firstly, the stencil was super transparent. Are we supposed to use bare minimum amount of stencil liquid while applying or plenty of it? I think I had left a thick spread before pressing the stencil cutout and it was almost impossible to see when I removed it.
  • Secondly, what should I do when the needle is clogged with Vaseline? I hadn't experienced this with fake skin and was totally caught off guard. Do I give the needle a wipe each line? Do I reduce the amount of Vaseline I use?
  • Also, there were times where my skin would hold on to the needle and let go, making it feel like it got stuck there. That sudden jump caused a few really bad lines. Is this something to do with not stretching the skin enough? Or is it about the angle of the needle? I did notice it happened more when I was pushing lines instead of pulling them.
  • I picked up a habit of wiping the under side of the needle's tip after refilling from a tattoo artist that I used to watch. Is this pointless or is it necessary? If I do it I end up barely being able to pull a line before the tip's dry and if I don't do it, I can't even see the stencil from how much ink is spreading on the skin.
  • Lastly, do you think some of the mechanical mistakes I had experienced are things you can fix by going back to fake skins or picking easier challenges or is it more like, if you can't do it, you can't do it? I'm fairly decent at drawing and painting however I'm having a real hard time drawing straight lines and circles that have line confidence and are consistent with a tattoo machine. I'm really hoping this is something that can improve with time but after today's experience I feel like going back to fake skin is a better idea than to continue tattooing my legs.
 

MalligaMallan

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@tattoo.morth.art
Do you have any photos? Being a Basic member you can't upload them directly on the sight, but you can use a host like Flickr. It's very hard to discuss a tattoo and the outcome of your effort, without having the possibility to look at it.
 

MirandM

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20 May 2021
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415
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Miranda
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After a couple of months on fake skins, I wanted to finally try something small on myself. However it got out of hand very quickly as problems snowballed and in a fit of frustration I went and tried an even harder tattoo than what I had planned. The first one that had frustrated me turned out acceptable however the 2nd one is very upsetting.
First mistake, never take on a first tattoo that is just too much for you. Keep it very simple to get the basic feel of the skin.
It was supposed to be a sun, so a circle and straight lines but it all got super wonky and with different line sizes. The stencil had worn off almost immediately and I still went at it free hand, while also tattooing in reverse since it's on my leg. In hindsight I see how that was a tough and pointless challenge to take on and patience would have helped a lot.
Patience is what you ALWAYS need. If you're not sure you can do it, take a sharpie and use it like your machine. You'll see the result without going really into the skin.
Since I wrapped up my tattoo, I cannot help but feel very defeated, I was hoping for a better first time and I would like to hear how it went for you in order to ground myself in reality. I want to learn from this experience instead of give up on tattooing and I would very much appreciate some information about the problems I had.
Don't wallow on your first tattoo, it's always worse than you imagined. You learn from your mistakes.
  • Firstly, the stencil was super transparent. Are we supposed to use bare minimum amount of stencil liquid while applying or plenty of it? I think I had left a thick spread before pressing the stencil cutout and it was almost impossible to see when I removed it.
Check out post and info about how to use a stencil correctly, there's loads of it.
  • Secondly, what should I do when the needle is clogged with Vaseline? I hadn't experienced this with fake skin and was totally caught off guard. Do I give the needle a wipe each line? Do I reduce the amount of Vaseline I use?
Don't use vaseline, use A+D creme or coconut oil, and very lightly!
  • Also, there were times where my skin would hold on to the needle and let go, making it feel like it got stuck there. That sudden jump caused a few really bad lines. Is this something to do with not stretching the skin enough? Or is it about the angle of the needle? I did notice it happened more when I was pushing lines instead of pulling them.
Stretch, stretch, stretch and stretch some more. I know on your own skin this can be complicated, but it's the only way. Pushing lines is more difficult then pulling them, you need to have experience to avoid ripping the skin.
  • I picked up a habit of wiping the under side of the needle's tip after refilling from a tattoo artist that I used to watch. Is this pointless or is it necessary? If I do it I end up barely being able to pull a line before the tip's dry and if I don't do it, I can't even see the stencil from how much ink is spreading on the skin.
Why do you copy something without finding the reason why the artist is doing that? The real reason is some inks are more fluid and leave an ink blob below the tube just after dipping. The artist did right in removing that, but you should NOT touch the needle, only the underside of the tube in a swift motion, just enough to remove the blob without removing more ink than necessary otherwise you end up with what you had.
  • Lastly, do you think some of the mechanical mistakes I had experienced are things you can fix by going back to fake skins or picking easier challenges or is it more like, if you can't do it, you can't do it? I'm fairly decent at drawing and painting however I'm having a real hard time drawing straight lines and circles that have line confidence and are consistent with a tattoo machine. I'm really hoping this is something that can improve with time but after today's experience I feel like going back to fake skin is a better idea than to continue tattooing my legs.
You learn from errors and practice. My first tattoo was blown out completely from going in too deep. I still have it, and keep it to remind me of the road I took. And it's that road which will lead you to be better at what you do, just analizing what went wrong, and avoid the same mistake the next time. You won't get a perfect tattoo the first, second or third time, just as you did learning how to ride a bike, you fall, you get up and go on, no point in saying you won't be able to do it.
 
Last edited:

Big Pete

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7 Sep 2021
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84
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Australia
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Peter
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1.... Stencils are meant to be able to withstand the tattooing process, if it's a light stencil it will disappear very quickly....only a very minimal amount of stencil primer should be used and it should have a tacky feel on the skin before applying the stencil, too much primer makes the stencil smudge and the lines will be very blurry, ensure that the skin is clean and before applying stencil primer and stencil. I wipe the area with Isocol rubbing alcohol to clean the area before applying stencil.
2... I only use vaseline as a last resort, try to get hold of some Hustle Butter or as others have said some coconut oil, if you have to use vaseline, use it very sparingly. When I use vaseline I only wipe a small thin amount over the whole stencil mainly to put a cover over the stencil to prevent it from being smudged accidently while doing the tattoo. I also put a little on the bottom of my hand (near pinky finger on hand holding my machine) as it helps my hand slide over the skin when pulling lines. I have also found that vaseline degrades some rubber and vinyl products....I use vaseline to hold my ink cups in place on a sheet of cling wrap that covers my work area and when cleaning up afterwards, sometimes the vaseline has destroyed the cling wrap.
3.... Needle feeling like it's getting stuck, ....could be a number of reasons for this, Probably to do with hand speed combined with machine speed and how much needle you have hanging out the tube, as you said it happened when pushing lines and not when pulling lines, I would guess that it's a speed and hang issue.
4....Wiping under the tip of the needle is done to remove any excess ink on the tip....you don't see many people do this when tattooing, I think it may be a habit sort of thing for some tattooists, I personally don't remember ever having done it myself, but have seen it being done by a tattooist that was tattooing me, he did it every time he reloaded his needle, which led me to believe it was not out of necessity but was a habit.
5...Continue with your practice skins, if you feel confident to tattoo yourself I would recommend small simple tattoos which can be covered at a later date if they don't turn out so good, or you can keep them for ever and a day as a reminder of your tattooing progress.

All the above are only my personal opinions, I do not consider myself as a professional tattooist but I have picked up a few tricks of the trade after doing it for near on 20 years. Some of my solutions/guidence that I have said may be contradicted by others in this group, but every answer/opinion will help you on your tattooing journey. When I first read your post, my first reaction was to say you are not ready to tattoo if you can't apply a stencil and didn't know that vaseline will clog your equipment if used to excess....but it is all a learning process and no one deserves to be shot down in flames and critisized, I can remember being told to stop tattooing when I posted a pic of a tattoo I did when I first started out, and here I am, 20 years later.
Keep practicing, learn from your mistakes and good luck with your tattooing progress.
 

Seigard

Basic
Joined
25 Aug 2021
Messages
8
Location
Turkey
First Name
Seigard
Gender
Male
1.... Stencils are meant to be able to withstand the tattooing process, if it's a light stencil it will disappear very quickly....only a very minimal amount of stencil primer should be used and it should have a tacky feel on the skin before applying the stencil, too much primer makes the stencil smudge and the lines will be very blurry, ensure that the skin is clean and before applying stencil primer and stencil. I wipe the area with Isocol rubbing alcohol to clean the area before applying stencil.
2... I only use vaseline as a last resort, try to get hold of some Hustle Butter or as others have said some coconut oil, if you have to use vaseline, use it very sparingly. When I use vaseline I only wipe a small thin amount over the whole stencil mainly to put a cover over the stencil to prevent it from being smudged accidently while doing the tattoo. I also put a little on the bottom of my hand (near pinky finger on hand holding my machine) as it helps my hand slide over the skin when pulling lines. I have also found that vaseline degrades some rubber and vinyl products....I use vaseline to hold my ink cups in place on a sheet of cling wrap that covers my work area and when cleaning up afterwards, sometimes the vaseline has destroyed the cling wrap.
3.... Needle feeling like it's getting stuck, ....could be a number of reasons for this, Probably to do with hand speed combined with machine speed and how much needle you have hanging out the tube, as you said it happened when pushing lines and not when pulling lines, I would guess that it's a speed and hang issue.
4....Wiping under the tip of the needle is done to remove any excess ink on the tip....you don't see many people do this when tattooing, I think it may be a habit sort of thing for some tattooists, I personally don't remember ever having done it myself, but have seen it being done by a tattooist that was tattooing me, he did it every time he reloaded his needle, which led me to believe it was not out of necessity but was a habit.
5...Continue with your practice skins, if you feel confident to tattoo yourself I would recommend small simple tattoos which can be covered at a later date if they don't turn out so good, or you can keep them for ever and a day as a reminder of your tattooing progress.

All the above are only my personal opinions, I do not consider myself as a professional tattooist but I have picked up a few tricks of the trade after doing it for near on 20 years. Some of my solutions/guidence that I have said may be contradicted by others in this group, but every answer/opinion will help you on your tattooing journey. When I first read your post, my first reaction was to say you are not ready to tattoo if you can't apply a stencil and didn't know that vaseline will clog your equipment if used to excess....but it is all a learning process and no one deserves to be shot down in flames and critisized, I can remember being told to stop tattooing when I posted a pic of a tattoo I did when I first started out, and here I am, 20 years later.
Keep practicing, learn from your mistakes and good luck with your tattooing progress.
I really appreciate all the information you've given and your helpful approach.
 

Seigard

Basic
Joined
25 Aug 2021
Messages
8
Location
Turkey
First Name
Seigard
Gender
Male
First mistake, never take on a first tattoo that is just too much for you. Keep it very simple to get the basic feel of the skin.

Patience is what you ALWAYS need. If you're not sure you can do it, take a sharpie and use it like your machine. You'll see the result without going really into the skin.

Don't wallow on your first tattoo, it's always worse than you imagined. You learn from your mistakes.

Check out post and info about how to use a stencil correctly, there's loads of it.

Don't use vaseline, use A+D creme or coconut oil, and very lightly!

Stretch, stretch, stretch and stretch some more. I know on your own skin this can be complicated, but it's the only way. Pushing lines is more difficult then pulling them, you need to have experience to avoid ripping the skin.

Why do you copy something without finding the reason why the artist is doing that? The real reason is some inks are more fluid and leave an ink blob below the tube just after dipping. The artist did right in removing that, but you should NOT touch the needle, only the underside of the tube in a swift motion, just enough to remove the blob without removing more ink than necessary otherwise you end up with what you had.

You learn from errors and practice. My first tattoo was blown out completely from going in too deep. I still have it, and keep it to remind me of the road I took. And it's that road which will lead you to be better at what you do, just analizing what went wrong, and avoid the same mistake the next time. You won't get a perfect tattoo the first, second or third time, just as you did learning how to ride a bike, you fall, you get up and go on, no point in saying you won't be able to do it.
Thank you for the answers, I really appreciate it.
 

Seigard

Basic
Joined
25 Aug 2021
Messages
8
Location
Turkey
First Name
Seigard
Gender
Male
After having read the answers from more experienced tattoo artists, I think it's a good idea for me to take this one on the chin and go back to the drawing board literally. I will focus on solving these steps I had struggled with such as applying the stencil and so on, afterwards I'll get back to some smaller and more feasible tattoos on myself.
Reading your experiences has made me feel much more at peace with having my own bad starter tattoos on myself. I would much rather do some unprofessional stuff on me than to move onto others irresponsibly.
Thanks for the replies, very much appreciated.
 

MirandM

Premium Gold
Joined
20 May 2021
Messages
415
Media
1
Location
Spain
First Name
Miranda
Gender
Female
After having read the answers from more experienced tattoo artists, I think it's a good idea for me to take this one on the chin and go back to the drawing board literally. I will focus on solving these steps I had struggled with such as applying the stencil and so on, afterwards I'll get back to some smaller and more feasible tattoos on myself.
Reading your experiences has made me feel much more at peace with having my own bad starter tattoos on myself. I would much rather do some unprofessional stuff on me than to move onto others irresponsibly.
Thanks for the replies, very much appreciated.
One final advice that I think will help. Wrap a fake skin around your leg or arm the next time you think of tattooing yourself. Do that at the exact same spot you think of using and do the tattoo on the fake skin you have in mind of doing. You'll find it much more natural after having done it on the fake skin and doing it at the same spot on your own skin. The curves of the human body are way different then you table top.
 

DKJ

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23 Oct 2017
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France
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Mathieu
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thetattooyoyo
Haven't read others replies so you can have all different povs and experiences, so sorry if some stuff is repeated.
  • Firstly, the stencil was super transparent. Are we supposed to use bare minimum amount of stencil liquid while applying or plenty of it? I think I had left a thick spread before pressing the stencil cutout and it was almost impossible to see when I removed it.
Stencil liquid, i use a drop for an area like 1/4 of an A4 sheet.
It must feel like glue-wet, not liquid-wet.
Apply your stencil as quick as possible, and pas your hand on it.
Rubbing the skin with alcohol on the area, after a shave, is a must for sticky dark stencils.

  • Secondly, what should I do when the needle is clogged with Vaseline? I hadn't experienced this with fake skin and was totally caught off guard. Do I give the needle a wipe each line? Do I reduce the amount of Vaseline I use?
I use vaseline and been very happy with it.
Again, just a little, i spread it only where i'm tattoing, because it goes off when i dab the ink.
The skin should look shiny but absolutly no mud should be anywhere, just an ultra thinlayer. I use like half the size of a wallnut of vaseline for an A4 tattoo.

  • Also, there were times where my skin would hold on to the needle and let go, making it feel like it got stuck there. That sudden jump caused a few really bad lines. Is this something to do with not stretching the skin enough? Or is it about the angle of the needle? I did notice it happened more when I was pushing lines instead of pulling them.
I never push lines because i could never estimate te correct angle.
Stretch is a must at all times. Great stretch if not don't do that line and find another, better stretch before you do.
I had this sort of stuck problem with magd and rs. Never with rl.
  • I picked up a habit of wiping the under side of the needle's tip after refilling from a tattoo artist that I used to watch. Is this pointless or is it necessary? If I do it I end up barely being able to pull a line before the tip's dry and if I don't do it, I can't even see the stencil from how much ink is spreading on the skin.
I do it when some ink is drying on the tip. At first i had to much ink in my tube and it got away with more dips, shorter ones, and more needle hang.
Rarely do i get an ink drop on my tip, and it's often from a too long dip in the cup.
  • Lastly, do you think some of the mechanical mistakes I had experienced are things you can fix by going back to fake skins or picking easier challenges or is it more like, if you can't do it, you can't do it? I'm fairly decent at drawing and painting however I'm having a real hard time drawing straight lines and circles that have line confidence and are consistent with a tattoo machine. I'm really hoping this is something that can improve with time but after today's experience I feel like going back to fake skin is a better idea than to continue tattooing my legs.
I'm no voice of God, but i'd be encouraging you to go on little design without much geometric shapes (the harder lining possible in tattoing, imo) on your skin. It's the real thing.
My second advice would be to go softer so you can come back at it after it's healed. I started that way and it hasn't been frustrating to look for a better depht than finishing my sessions with fugged-up tattoos on which no or poor improvement can be done.
Go smooth, get the right design (organic or abstract shapes), get the best position, go slow, analyze on the way and retract immediatly when a line is going wrong under your attentive eyes, are some easy steps i can give you from where i am (around 20 lines tattoos).

Please post some pictures through Flickr, because your work may be better or worse than what you're saying, plus we'l be able to check out what could be corrected.

Sorry for the typos, am in a hurry to put the kids to sleep (and i don't mean that the way the Mafia does).
Peace,

DKJ
 
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