If you’re new to tattooing, you might find that ink splatters out onto your fake skin.

Not only is this super frustrating and messy, it can make it harder to see your stencil, which makes it harder to tattoo.

To help, we’re breaking down how to get past this issue fast. We’ll be discussing:

  • The different reasons ink splatters happen.
  • How to stop extra ink from spitting out of your machine.

Why Ink Splatters Happen - and How to Fix It

There are a few different things that could be happening to cause tattoo ink to spit out onto the skin.

Your Machine Needs a Rubber Band

On a coil tattoo machine, the needle bar is being pushed by the armature bar. (Some rotary machines will also use needle bars instead of cartridges.) 

Making sure you have a rubber band set up correctly on your machine will make sure your needle bar is following the right path, which can help prevent ink splatter.

When you’re setting it up:

  • Wrap the rubber band around the machine, including the needle bar.
  • Make sure there are no kinks in the rubber band, so it’s not twisted.
  • Make sure you have the right tension on the rubber band.

Rubber Band Tension

You want to make sure the rubber band is perfectly on there. If it’s too tight or if you have more than one, it is going to cause a lot of tension and make the ink spit onto the skin.

Your Machine is Running Too Fast

If you’re running your machine too fast, ink could spit out of the cartridge/tube. 

If the machine is running too fast and spitting ink on the skin, it will make a mess while you’re tattooing. While you can just wipe it down, wiping too much will make you lose your stencil. 

The best way to resolve this problem is to turn your voltage down. Staying between 6v and 10.5v is a pretty good range to stick between, depending on how you tattoo.

Your Needle Could Be Clogged

Your needle could be clogged up with a paper towel or Vaseline. 

It’s important to have Vaseline on the skin while you’re tattooing because it protects the stencil and makes it easier to slide your hand. However, if there’s too much on the skin, it can clog the needles and keep ink from flowing. This can cause ink to splatter.

To get the Vaseline out of your tattoo needles, turn off your machine, wipe with a paper towel, and then clean the needle out in your rinse cup. After that, you can dip into your black ink and keep tattooing with no ink splatter. 

If you’re wiping off your tube with a paper towel or trying to get water out of the cartridge, you could get a paper towel stuck in the needles. If that happens you need to get rid of the cartridge completely. 


Even if everything is set up the right way, a little bit of ink splatter might happen. This is normal from time to time. However, if it’s happening all the time, then there’s a bigger issue that needs to be addressed.

Your Needles are Hanging Too Far Out

If your needle is too far out there, then you might see ink splatter. You’ll want to make sure your needle is hanging out the appropriate length.


You might see an ink puddle instead of splatter. If this happens, make sure to dab the ink off instead of wiping away. This will help protect your stencil. 

Become a Tattoo Artist With the Artist Accelerator Program

student work from the Artist Accelerator tattoo artist training programs

Having a career in tattooing is not only fulfilling, but it’s also the most stable way to make a living as an artist. However, for decades, the process to become a tattoo artist has been notoriously difficult. 

The apprenticeship process requires aspiring tattoo artists to work 50-60 hours a week without pay for 2-4 years. That, combined with the toxic culture of abusing apprentices, makes getting into the industry almost impossible for newcomers. 

That’s why we created the Artist Accelerator Program. Our online course provides a simple, structured way of learning to tattoo that has been proven to work by over 2500 successful students, with many of them having gone on to open their own shops all around the world. 

Inside the program, we’ll take you through every step of the tattooing process in 9 clear, easy-to-follow modules and support you along the way within the Tattooing 101 Mastermind online community.

In the Mastermind group, you’ll collaborate with other students, get answers to your questions, and receive personalized video feedback on your artwork and tattoos from professional tattoo artists. With this friendly community of both new and experienced tattoo artists, you’ll never be stuck again. 

When you join the Artist Accelerator Program, you’ll have instant access to the full course and the Mastermind community, as well as our 30-Day Flash Challenge and recorded interviews with tattoo artists from all over the world. 

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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