During my career, I’ve turned to some of the best artists, both old masters in art and new artists in the tattoo industry, as well as many other forms of art and craftsmanship and nature for inspiration. Knowing that tattooing is a vast industry, I had to push myself to learn and recreate realism — to be able to stand out amongst great tattoo artists. I continue to work hard to perfect my craft.
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Tattooing Tips with Jose Perez Jr. LESSON 2: Equipment and Set-up
First & foremost, this lesson will be all about consistency. Every time you tattoo, everything you do has to be the same and you have to have a system that you repeat each and every time to ensure that you are reliable in the quality that you are able to produce. You want your clients to be confident with the product they will receive when they book an appointment with you. If we were talking about building houses or countertops, it always will have to be done a certain way if you want the end product to be the same.
Each time I set up is always the same. Ink in the same spot, rinse cup, green soap, always in the same spots. The ink cups should always be set up from dark to light, left to right so you never get confused. My ink is always a 5 cup system counted by drops. I dont eyeball it. I count every drop to ensure that it's perfect each time. You always want to run your machine and power supply at the same voltage. I may travel all around the world to all different shops and meet new people every day but I always am able to stay consistent in the quality of my work because I always maintain the same core rules to my set up and equipment.
The machines that I use currently are FK Irons Spectra Halo, which I love for several reasons. It's an incredibly reliable machine. You always want to make sure your machines run the same all the time. I also like them because they are lightweight. I switched over from coils to rotaries because I tend to work long hours and the weight was getting to my fingers, causing calluses and bumps and makng my hands and wrists tired. You can also adjust the bounce or give which to me is one of the most important things because it mimics a coil machine. You can adjust the amount of give it has so its not just jamming the needle into the skin. There are a lot of options out there as far as tattoo machines go, the technology has advanced in many ways. It's all about finding the right machine for you. I cant stress enough how your machines need to be consistent in order to reach the same end result every time.
The way I've reached this system I'm at today is pretty much trial and error. In order for trial and error to work, you have to always set up the same and then tweak one element at a time. If you need your ink to be darker, add more drops. If you need to add another machine for speed, then do so. But stay with your original system and add as you go. If you change everything at once, you won't be able to tell what it is that is causing a problem that you might be having. If you tweak one thing at a time then you can tell what it is that is working and what is not.
I also use the same brand of paper towels every time and I always stick to the same brands of tubes and needles. I use Needlejig needles and tubes from True Tube. They've always proven to produce great quality products. However, no matter where you order your tubes and needles from, it's always important to individually check each one until you know that they're dependable. I've jumped around from different companies to reach these two because I have not found any damaged needles, and the spacing between the individual needles is always the same. Little flaws like that can greatly affect the way your tattoo heals in a negative way if you don't pay attention to it.
What I'm trying to say here is that if you keep all your procedures, all your steps, your machines, your needles, all the same, the outcome will always be the same. That's what makes a great artist- if you stay consistent and reliable with all your work. The bottom line here is: consistency, Consistency, CONSISTENCY!!
Tattooing Tips with Jose Perez Jr. LESSON 1: Portfolio Presentation
What's up guys, this is Jose Perez Jr. I want to take the time to share some knowledge and tips that I have learned in my past 9 years working in the industry. For those who don't know me, I'm self-taught for the most part so I had to learn my own techniques, tricks, and style so I had do all the wrong things before I learned to do the right things. I am always pushing myself to become better at my trade. For those newcomers, if tattooing is something you're pursuing and you want this to be your career, this is something to be taken very seriously. It should become one of your passions and be made a priority if you want to be succesful at it. There are a lot of sacrifices to be made, as there are with any successful career, so if you think you're ready, let's start with one of the basics.
First and foremost, one of the most important things to be taken into consideration if you want to be successful, is your portfolio. Your portfolio should consist of your best work. And don't get me wrong , It's good to showcase your best work, but there's no reason that your work can't be consistant and that all your work can be portfolio worthy. In other words- work hard on every piece and don't be, as I call it, a "hit-or-miss-artist". Don't half-ass your work if you don't like the idea, or if it's late and you want to hang out with your buddies, or if you went out drinking till 5 a.m. the night before and you're hung over, or if you receive a bootie call in the middle of your tattoo and can't concentrate anymore. If you fall into these habits you're probably not going to be the best at your trade. No matter what happens during your tattoo, you need to stay focused and always have a great work ethic so working hard allows you to play hard as well. Just remember that working hard comes first.
If you don't already have an extensive portfolio, your main focus should be creating one. In this industry, it's 100% about visuals. You want to be able to showcase the work you can do. Sure you can still stay busy in our industry but you will have to be a great salesman. If you have the work and the great pictures to back it up, your work will sell itself and you dont have to convince your client in how skilled you are. Your work will speak for it self. Always think about your client and your piece being a walking billboard and you only want to present the best for advertisment.
For photographs I usually take between 70-100 pictures of each tattoo. The reason I take so many is to insure that you have options to choose from because some times you will get blurry pics, funny lighting, or glares that wash out your pics. You also want to get all angles, especially if it is on a part of the body that wraps around. That way you can showcase each side of the tattoo because it is on a 3d canvas. Take time to find a good spot in your shop or tattooing location with good lighting, or set up a designated area for photographs. Never use a flash and try to avoid a reflection on your tattoo, or the contrast will look washed out. Anything solid black will look like greywash and fall flat and faded. That's not what you want to showcase because it does not represent your best work. A tip to get rid of glare that I've used for years now is to make sure you wash and clean your tattoo really well with green soap, or h2ocean foam, or water, and remove all the leaking plasma. When you do that, get a dry paper towel and dry it gently. Then you have a 5-10 second window to take the picture. This removes most of the glare. Once the tattoo starts to look shiny or ooze again, you need to repeat the process. It sucks that you only have a small window to get that photo but it is important to ensure that you represent your work accurately. Outside photos can also provide great natural lighting, it's best to take them the next day if your client is willing to come back, because the redness of the fresh tattoo goes down. It is important to not stand in direct sunlight or again , it will make your work look washed out. The best place to stand is inside the shadow of a building, with the sun positioned behind the tattoo itself.
Presentation is also important. when you're working on your portfolio, you want to make sure that you have great presentation utilizing the best photos of your tattoos and showcasing your best work. You'll want to always try to focus and zoom in on your tattoo to see actual detail. Use 1-2 tattoos per page at max, don't squeeze 10 pictures on one page because you won't capture the fine detail in each one. Always go with a nice book that you can get printed online. Check out blurb.com, it takes a little time but makes your work look presentable and professional as fuck. Also think about using an iPad or tablet, but make sure you get a chain or a metal wire cable with a combination lock so you can remove it when needed. This ensures that no one walks off with it.
Again, I can't stress enough that one of the most important things is your portfolio, and that you put 199% effort into each one of your tattoos. Make sure that each tattoo is your best work, because if your work is good, it will be your best salesman. So, one more time: #1 step to be a succesful tattoo artist is....