At first glance, it would seem that making a tattoo is obvious. The tattoo artist uses a machine with a needle in it to draw pictures on your skin that stay there forever.
The thing is though, it’s not so obvious; nor simple. In fact, it’s actually the summation of many years of work and thought by a lot of people who wanted to make the process easier, faster, less painful and less prone to infections or other problems.
The tattoo machine is comprised of three main parts. The motor, the pedal that controls the motor, and the head, that is made of the needle, the tube and the ink canister and the casing that holds all these parts together.
What happens is when the tattoo artist presses down on the pedal, it causes the motor to move the hollow needle back and forth inside of a plastic tube. The tube is the part that the artist presses against your skin when he or she is working. The needle moves up and down as the work is being done. When it is withdrawn, it is pulled back to the ink canister where a tiny portion of ink is pulled by suction into the now empty part of the needle. The needle is then pushed forward just a tiny little bit; enough to puncture the outer skin, then move its way to the inner skin, which is more stable. There, the needle stops it’s forward motion, deposits its little load of ink, and then is yanked back up the tube and backed once again into the ink canister where it once again collects a tiny bit of ink.
Thus, the tattoo artist makes pictures under your skin, not on it, by manipulating the tattoo machine. He or she moves the head of the machine slowly over the skin while the needle moves up and down, injecting ink drop by drop into the under skin below.
And because there are different kinds of pictures to be drawn, the tattoo artist has different kinds of needles, the differences being in how much ink is deposited with one injection. Thus, for those areas of the skin that are to be vast expanses of one color for example, the artist can put on an area needle that will inject more ink with each jab, which will help to speed up the process of filling in large areas in a speedy, tidy fashion.
To change colors, the tattoo artist need only stop, change the ink canister and needle, and then get back to work.
This is all possible because of the precision of the motor, the super sharpness of modern needle technology and the advances in medical understanding that limits infections and disease.
And all you have to do is sit as still as possible and wait for the artist to finish.