TikTok Tattoo Artists The Insync Insurance Podcast

Welcome back!

Dawn: Today, we’re gonna be discussing more about the inexperienced tattoo artists or those, for example, on TikTok that you know, just kind of bought a gun off Amazon and just decided to do things, but obviously are kind of encouraging, almost kind of bad practices, which is something I think we all want to avoid.

What can be the issue with inexperienced tattooing videos on social media?

Georgia: My biggest issue is the misinformation that is spread by social media, by people who don’t know what they’re doing. They’ve not been taught correctly or at all, and they call out tattooists for gatekeeping tattooing. And that’s not the case at all. Tattooing needs to be done safely as it’s not only a permanent mark on somebody’s skin for life but for all the infectious diseases that can be spread and allergic reactions that can happen.

Also, things like setting off underlying conditions like cellulitis, contact dermatitis, and even scabies can be set off just by an overworked tattoo. And these are things you learn from an apprenticeship, from experience, from seeing it happen and how it’s dealt with. Mm-hmm. So the TikTok videos especially, they don’t tell you the bad things. They’re like, look how easy this is. And it was free. So that’s my biggest issue.

Dawn: No, I don’t blame you as well. And it’s, I think, you know. Obviously, a lot of people have common sense, will think, can see that and go, okay, but you know, you’re not wearing gloves and stuff, so it’s not exactly the greatest practice. But then, unfortunately, there’s people who will be swayed by it or, you know, get not impressed by it. But you know, they’ll be like, oh, well maybe I’ll do that then.

And then ‘Oh yeah, unfortunately, it’s just creating a lot of issues than in turn almost like a little circle of like, well, they’re gonna do it and then they’re gonna cause a problem and something bad could happen and it’s, it’s just not the best thing in the world unfortunately. And it’s something I think maybe, um, in future with social media, maybe it’s something they’ll regulate. There’s some, there’s only so much they can regulate on huge, huge platforms like TikTok cuz I think they need a team of about a hundred thousand if not more considering the amount of content that’s on there nowadays.

What are the dangers of these videos?

Georgia: Well these videos gain so many views, like comments, follows and inevitably copycats. Um, and that is the dangerous thing. It’s all fun and games getting a little stick and poke at a house party. I mean I’ve never done it, but I have covered a lot of them. But it’s a different ball game. Whipping out a cheap tattoo machine set up and tattooing multiple people with no clue what you are doing and the risks you’re putting yourself and others in. There are some tattooing videos on YouTube, um, which are out there documenting safe, safe and correct practices.

And some people do use these to further their skill, and they’re good and they’re helpful and they’re people trying to teach as many people as possible the correct way to do it. Mm-hmm. But it’s a 62nd TikTok video which gathers the most attention and therefore spreads the notion further of, Hey, anyone can do this. Save money by doing the tattoos yourself in the end. These are the tattoos that make their way into professional shops to be covered. There’s a say pay cheap, pay twice and getting a free or cheap tattoo of someone that learns a tattoo of the clip of social media is asking for a coverup.

Dawn: Oh, definitely. Is there any videos, obviously, you don’t have to name names or anything that come to mind that obviously showcases these bad practices. Anything that you’ve seen recently that kind of made you print?

Georgia: I’ve seen so many cause I like so many tattoo in, I think it’s the algorithm then brings up tattoo in. Yeah. I’ve seen somewhere I’m quite impressed by the skill level, um, by the person’s flexibility because you need both hands. So to be able to grab parts of the body with both hands, that’s quite impressive. Um, but I do see some, like you said before, no gloves or doing it on just a normal couch. Unwrapped cushions, unwrapped surfaces, where are the needles going?

That is my biggest, biggest concern. Where are the dirty needles going? I have told people before who I know have bought machines off the internet, at least dispose of the needles correctly. No one’s gonna change your mind on doing these tattoos at home by yourself. No one clearly. But you cannot put those needles into a normal bin because the bin collectors could prick themselves and not realize it’s a needle.

Dawn: So all well and good doing it to yourself or your friends, you’ve all consented to do it, but someone collecting the waste has not consented to being, um, like pricked by dirty needles or being around the clinical waste that’s full of blood and plasma. You dunno what someone’s got inside them. And then you’re just risking someone else’s health because you wanted to do a tattoo at home. I dunno any TikTok videos by name. But I’ve seen them and I tend to comment and I, I’m not all altogether negative. I’ll just be like, please wrap the surfaces. Please wear gloves. Like I’d rather be slightly advisory rather than, oh my God, I can’t believe you are doing this because they’re gonna do it anyway. So you’d rather give a little bit of advice to a stranger in somewhere, somewhere, you know, nowhere near where you are because otherwise, no one’s gonna tell them.

Georgia: But there’s actually, there’s actually, this is a bit naughty. There’s a tattooist in America that is TikTok famous for doing these terrible tattoos and a lot of tattooists are then calling them out by stitching. And this person is saying that, oh, they’re only a hundred dollars, what do you expect? That’s still a lot of money. A hundred dollars. That’s a lot of money to a lot of people and you don’t care what you are putting on someone. Hmm. You just do this tattoo to get the money, post the video, get paid for the video, and then you’re like, Hey, I don’t care. They knew what they were getting. It’s just unethical, and dangerous. And just wrong.

Dawn: It just sounds like it doesn’t really care about work as well, which I think especially as a tattooist you would, you would care deeply about what you’re doing because of how permanent it is.

Georgia: I mean, no, maybe he’s getting a cut from, whoever he sends them to for a coverup. I’m not sure. That sounds a little bit crazy. Well, the videos get so many views and comments because they’re controversial and then there’s, there’s payment there. So yeah. People will do anything for clout, anything. We’re in the generation unfortunately. We all love a bit of drama as well, whe whether people will admit it or not.

You know, everyone gets curious and goes and, and looks at it, you know, like anything that pops up that’s a bit controversial but there’s just shame ’cause we’re feeding into it. But yes. You know, and it’s really great as well that you know, at least you’re trying to advise on those videos where you can be like, you know, you really should be globbing up, you should be doing this and that. And hopefully, maybe some will read it and actually realizing need to be better. But I think it’s just unfortunately it’s so accessible in a way getting the equipment. It’s too Accessible.

Dawn: Yeah, it’s the same I think with like piercing guns and stuff like piercing needles, even if it’s like correct equipment, you’re not trained to use it, and you can just access it. It’s insane.

Georgia: So much goes wrong with the piercing. Oh, so much.

Dawn: So much. Shein does those little piercing guns. Like they’re really small, and it’s just like, first of all, piercing guns aren’t necessarily the best method I believe. But you see the videos and you’re just there like, why, why are you piercing yourself? And then you see them obviously going wrong as well, and they’re like, oh no, I’ve had to go to the hospital cause I got an infection and I’m just there like burying my head in the pillow like my god.

Unfortunately, until like I guess some sort of reprimand or something can happen, I think unfortunately it’s gonna still happen, which is why I thought this episode would be really good. Cause hopefully somewhere maybe it’ll reach some of those people, and then they can realize that, you know, it’s not always great the fact that you do this because, you know, it’s real cheap.

What are the dangers of buying tattooing kits from an online store like Amazon or ebay?

Georgia: Well, you can actually buy tattoo equipment from proper tattoo websites easily with no proof of whether you are a professional tattooist licensed or not. This is an issue you used to have to at least provide a tattoo studio address before you could get anything delivered. But then, anyone can purchase a license, which is ridiculous. You just have to phone up and pay, which really does need to be changed to a more regulated, better system.

But if we’re specifically talking about the cheap sets you can get from websites like Amazon or eBay, you tend to find its package deal for under a hundred pounds, usually close to the 50-pound mark, which is so cheap. If you consider some top-of-the-range tattoo machines, a close to a thousand-pound mark in these sets, you get machine wires, foot pedal, power supply, inks, needles, grips, tips, and, on occasion, fake skin; the needles will be made so cheaply, which is dangerous in itself.

Georgia: That ink will not have gone through any kind of testing or would’ve met any of the criteria of the EU regulations, which most of the proper ink, let’s call it, would, would have, even though we’re not in the EU anymore. All the inks that were sold on the websites were EU-regulated. The regulations just changed. And obviously, we’ve left The EU inks are usually between 12 to 50 pounds a bottle. So, um, a complete set can set you back hundreds of pounds. These tattoo sets are so dangerous because who knows who’s made them, what corners they’ve cut and what they’ve used to create them?

Dawn: Very key you are saying about the needles. Well like, what if they’re easily breakable? If someone who bought it did decide to use it on a person and then it broke or maybe there’s a bit stuck in them. Like it’s, I think there’s so many factors that you have to consider.

Georgia: Even if they were slightly blunt, if they’d been delivered because they were boxed up, not fragile and they were slightly blunt, the damage that they can do to the skin, the trauma to the skin is it will leave a scar. The tattoo will be raised, but you can buy tattoo, uh, tattoo needles directly from these dodgy websites, boxes and boxes for 50 P box or something like that. And the needles I use are about 35-pound box. So what are they made out of? It’s just, you don’t even wanna know. Like I wouldn’t want to know what someone’s using on me if my tattoo was gonna cost me 20 pounds or was free. Like what, what are the equipment pieces that are, are getting used on my skin?

Dawn: Yeah. It’s insane. And as well, like, you know, you’re saying obviously it would get a pedal and everything in it. It could be there could be electrical faults with the wires. I think anything, anything, and everything could go wrong. I think we could be, here the phrase is trying to figure out what could go wrong from faulty equipment. Cuz obviously, you know, they’ve been made cheaply, which is why it was cheaped buy.

Georgia: Yeah. I mean things go wrong with the expensive stuff, but at least you are able to send it back to the maker and you know, where they’ve sourced or their pieces from, and they’ll fix it for you. There might be a charge that is out of warranty. That’s another thing. All the machines will have a warranty house buys. Everything you buy will have a one-year warranty. At least the inks that we buy, the decent ones, are all vegan cruelty-free. I think they’re now nickel-free.

They have a two-year shelf life of an annual advised user within six months. So it’s just all on the bottle. It’s all in English. Which like, I’m not saying that other languages aren’t okay, but the ones that are sold in England are written in English. You know what you’re using. You can read the, you can use, read the ingredients and look them up yourself, you know, it’s fine. And it always has like an EU stamp on it.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Georgia: Just if you’re looking to get into tattooing and you’re gonna go through the apprentice route, don’t buy anything yet. We like to try before you buy it when you’re in a shop with other artists, a good environment, let’s say you can borrow your friends’ machines, you can see what you like. There are so many different machines out there. There are different types of machines, there are different ink brands. It depends what your, uh, ethics are.

Like if you’re not actually bothered by vegan or you free, um, if you are looking more at your bank balance, then what’s better for you as a tattooist or better for your clients, that’s fine as well. We all started somewhere, my first machine was so cheap it was plastic, but it was a proper machine that’s from a proper tattoo machine company and had a warranty. It’s from the websites. But if I look back now, I just think, oh my God, that was so cheap but cheap as in tattoo and cheap, not as in Yeah but in corners cheap. Like

Georgia: The cheapest model they have that was still regulated. Yeah. That had, you know, specs they had to live up to before release. And I’ve got weak wrists so I thought ahead, I was like, oh, I best get something really light rather than you saying really heavy like a coil, which is like if you think of old school tattoos or if you imagine a tattoo, it’s done with the coil machine. They’re the really heavy, loud ones. They really punch, they really get good lines, block shade and my wrists are so weak. There’s no way I could use that five days a week for my foreseeable future.

So I’ve got something lightweight, plastic design, bio tattooist with bad wrists and I started from there and gradually I’ve been learning what I prefer. Moving on, buying new machines. If I don’t like them, you sell them on, you can sell ’em to work colleagues, you can buy them off,6 work colleagues. That is one of the other posses of working in the studio as an apprentice because you get to know the ins and outs of every single part of tattooing.

Georgia: You don’t get that from a Tattoo TikTok. I see a lot of the comments on the tattoo toks that are like, Hey, I use this machine because it is just the basic one of Amazon. No one knows how to use it. They’re just buying it and just don’t at the skin. You don’t know what voltage to use or speed your hand speed, how to apply it correctly, how deep to go into the skin. It’s all I know, I know I sound like an absolute whinger, but it’s just not for me. I don’t agree with it. And a lot of tattooers who have been in the game a long time agree completely and we’re not gatekeeping. It’s just safe.

Dawn: Yeah. And I think that’s what some people forget as well is at the end of the day, you guys have been trained to be as safe as possible, hygienic as possible to make sure that, you know, the end result is good as well. And you know, even just down to like the aftercare, especially with some of the videos already doubt they even thought about aftercare or like cleaning it post, uh, tattoo, uh, doing a, you know, a wipe. Uh, or even, you know, they didn’t even use.

Georgia: So we use, we’ll use soap throughout and it’s classes. It’s called Green Soap, but now they’re coming all different colors and scents. Green soap with distilled water. And then you use like a green soaped foam. I do. Cause I, I think it really helps to get rid of redness. It’s got witch hazel in and things like that. Smells amazing. You can really work into skin with your gloved hand gyra kitchen roll. And then I use a natural-based tattoo balm. There’s so many on the market. They are made specifically for tattoos, but you can use ’em for anything. I’ve used it on my baby’s eczema. I’ve used it on dry lips. It’s all-natural. It’s full of goodness. It smells fantastic. There are so many out there. They’re all around the same price brackets. You do know it’s; you’re not getting mugged off. It’s what they are supposed to be sold for.

You can pretty much get ’em in any tattoo shop or direct from websites. That is the best stuff to get because it is been designed for tattoos. Mm-hmm. But then you could also go somewhere like lush that have realized some of their products are good for tattooed skin, which might be sensitive eczema or dermatitis or what has my sister got psoriasis. They’re sort of well-designed for them. You’ve got elbow grease, uh, dream cream. My sister has psoriasis. I use anything with hemp for her skin. It works for treats. CBD oil-based creams. Natural is better.

Your skin will reacts so well to something natural. And yeah, those are again things on these TikTok, they’re probably just using Vaseline, which you do tend to use a petroleum jelly during a tattoo because it stops seeing splashing around. But I then wouldn’t use it on broken skin because it is petrol-based and it is not going to do great things. Mm-hmm. But some people use it. That is the old tool way of doing it. Use Vaseline and start to finish. I just think with things that have come out from Tattooists for tattooists, for tattooing, use them. Cause I know what they’re on about as well and they’ve probably trialled and narrowed it on themselves until they found like the best solution.

Brilliant. Well I think it’s been a really great discussion. Hopefully it’s quite informative For anyone listening, is there any, I’ve, I’ve said this already, but is there, is there any lasting comments that you’d like to add before we wrap up?

Georgia: I do think TikTok, uh, and others like it can be useful. I mean, when I upload a TikTok, I try to be educational. I have aftercare videos. I have how to apply the second skin dress and how to remove it. I think they’re very useful tools to be able to spread information that is helpful and safe. Um, so if you are stuck and you can’t get hold of your tattooers, try to find the educational videos on TikTok or Instagram or YouTube because they are out there. People are trying to help and yeah, that’s, that’s what I was gonna say. TikTok isn’t all bad.

Dawn: Yeah. I think as well, if you kind of almost like vet the profile, so look at it and see what they’re about, they’ll probably have a link to their proper like studio site and their Instagram. You’ll know that they’re a professional just by the way that they obviously provide information by themselves as well as like the content. So I think especially, you know, the first thing is, you know, if they’ve shown that they’ve wrapped everything and they’re wearing gloves, I think that’s a very good start. Well thank you so much for coming on and discussing this. It’s been really informative.

Georgia: Thank you for having me back.

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