There’s nothing like trying it for yourself. You’re in the right place if you’re eager to learn to tattoo.
In a moment, we’ll review the best tattoo starter kits and tattoo machines for beginners.
First, let’s talk about what you need to begin tattooing.
What equipment do you need to start tattooing?
When you get a starter kit, you’re looking for the best tattoo setup for beginners.
But it’s hard to find everything you need in one package. You’ll probably need to make a couple other purchases.
Here is the basic tattoo equipment you’ll need:
- A tattoo machine, also known as a tattoo gun or iron
- Power supply for the machine
- Ink caps or cups
- Disposable gloves and paper towels
- Green soap and alcohol
- Vaseline or another glide
- Practice skin
- Transfer paper for stencils or a Sharpie marker
- Disposal container for used needles
Let’s go a little more in-depth on these items.
First, it doesn’t matter whether you start with a coil or a rotary tattoo machine. There are advantages to both kinds.
For example, beginners find that rotary machines are easier to control. Plus, you can use them for lining and shading.
On the other hand, coil machines are the most common type, and they are less expensive. But you’ll have more work to set them up.
Next, the power supply has to match the machine you’ll be using. It has to have the right kind of connector and supply enough voltage. You might also want to get a foot controller if it doesn’t come with one.
Needles are a no-brainer. When lining with a coil machine, you’ll use tight rounds. When filling color, you’ll probably use magnums or wide-spaced rounds. Rotary machines use different needles.
Ink is crucial. Most of the tattoo beginner sets come with ink, but it’s not the best for human skin. Use it on practice skin or fruit peels. Be sure to purchase professional tattoo ink for working on people. Then, pour it into the ink cups to keep things sanitary.
Speaking of sanitary, you need gloves because you’re working with blood. You might think if you’re only tattooing yourself that gloves don’t matter. This is not true, as you’re likely to stain your skin with tattoo ink. The paper towels will help you keep things tidy.
Also, it’s essential to have green soap to wash the skin in preparation for the tattoo. Then, you need alcohol to sterilize equipment, including the working surface.
Vaseline keeps the ink from discoloring the skin that’s not being tattooed. It also makes it easier to move your hand around on the surface. But feel free to use a better quality glide like Hustle Butter.
If you’ve never used a tattoo machine before, it’s an excellent idea to work on practice skin. No, it won’t be the same as tattooing a person. But it will allow you to get familiar with the process.
Instead of free-handing your first tattoo, try using a stencil, or at least a Sharpie, to outline it. It might prevent the need for cover-up work later.
Finally, be kind to your garbage collector and use a hazardous material container to collect used needles instead of tossing them in the trash.
Best Tattoo Starter Kits & Tattoo Machines for Beginners
Now, let’s take a look at tattoo beginner kits.
A coil machine is the iconic tattoo gun that buzzes. Professional machines are designed to handle a specific function like lining, shading, or filling.
Inexpensive beginner irons might require you to make adjustments to them to change between tasks.
Hildbrandt Tattoo Kit Pro
Out of all the beginner tattoo kits with practice skin, Hildbrandt’s is the most complete. It’s designed for apprentice artists.
It provides premium learning material like a textbook and a DVD. The cost includes membership to a site online with more video tutorials and guides. There’s also a forum for the tattoo artist community.
This kit is the closest you can get to an actual apprenticeship. Moreover, Hildbrandt is a trusted brand of tattoo supplies, not a company pushing cheap knockoffs.
In the box, you’ll get two coil tattoo machines: a liner and a shader. They run off the dual power supply. You can plug them both into one power supply and keep them ready to go without further adjustments.
Next, the digital power supply has features that are suitable for professional artists. The presets allow you to program it for shading or lining, then switch between functions with a tap. It comes with a foot controller and all necessary cords.
Finally, there is a large assortment of accessories that come pre-sterilized and blister-packed. They include razors to shave the skin, practice skin, transfer paper, ink cups, disposable gloves, and bottles of Radiant Colors ink.
Dragonhawk Complete Tattoo Kit
Another of the best tattoo kits for beginners is made by Dragonhawk out of Hong Kong. To be honest, they offer more than one beginner kit. Each one has slight differences with regards to accessories and the machines included.
The Complete Tattoo Kit comes with two cast iron coil tattoo machines with 10-wrap coils. They run off the digital power supply with foot pedal and clip cord.
The 10 bottles of ink are from the American-made Immortal brand. Then, there are needles, gloves, stencil paper, practice skin, tools for adjusting the machines, etc.
Grinder Tattoo Kit by Pirate Face Tattoo
It’s cheap, but this tattoo kit has a lot of goodies. It includes 4 coil tattoo machines as well as a power supply.
Next, there’s an instructional book and DVD. That should get you started setting up the machines to use the 7 bottles of Radiant Colors ink and the assortment of liner and shader needles.
Also, there’s only one pair of disposable gloves, but you’ll get tattoo practice skin and stencil transfer paper.
Among the miscellaneous accessories, there are ink cups and a holder, as well as disposable tips.
Solong Tattoo Complete Tattoo Kit
This beginner kit also comes with 4 steel-framed coil machines for lining and shading. It has a digital power supply, foot pedal, and clip cord.
The attraction here, though, is the incredible selection of ink colors. There are 54 bottles in total. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good look at the brand.
Besides the basics, you’ll get 50 needles, tips, grips, ink cups, practice skin, and a free tattoo teaching video online.
Wormhole Tattoo Complete Tattoo Kit
If you hope to spend as little as possible to get your hands on a coil machine, check out this kit from Wormhole.
The solitary cast iron machine serves as both liner and shader depending on how you adjust. Of course, it comes with the appropriate tools for tuning. It’s also rather decorative.
The basic kit includes a few bottles of ink, needles, ink caps, tips, practice skin, and a power supply. For information on how to set it up, you’ll get a link to a site online.
HAWINK Tattoo Complete Tattoo Kit
I was glad to see that this beginner kit offers a warranty with free replacement service.
It includes two 10-wrap coil machines for lining and shading, plus a power supply with foot pedal. There are needles, ink caps, tips, and accessories for the machines.
There’s also a rainbow selection of ink, although it’s probably best for practicing and not for actual skin.
Stigma Tattoo Kit Complete Coil Tattoo Machine for Beginner
Stigma’s kit is one of the better-quality offerings. It comes with a 1-year warranty. Moreover, the power supply is CE-certified for safety.
There is a single cast iron tattoo machine with 10-wrap coils. It runs off the included power supply with foot pedal.
Although there are only a few ink bottles, there’s practice skin and an assortment of needles.
Many pros use rotary machines for precision work. Imagine tattooing someone and having it feel as easy as holding a marker or a pen.
Rotary machines are low-vibration and low-noise. They tend to feel less painful for the client, too.
Dragonhawk Rotary Tattoo Pen Machine Kit
Dragonhawk sells both the Mast pen and the Atom. You might want to view them both before deciding.
The Mast rotary machine has a coreless motor with an anticipated lifetime of 3,000 hours or more. It’s excellent for lining, shading, and color packing. Furthermore, it hits fast yet softly.
The kit doesn’t include everything a beginner needs, but it’s got the basics covered.
It has the power supply for the pen, needle cartridges, 4 bottles of ink, transfer paper, grip wrap, disposable gloves, and practice skin. Everything fits into the hard-sided carrying case.
Stigma Rotary Tattoo Machine Kit
If you check prices, you’ll see that rotary machine kits are more expensive than coil machine kits. But since rotary machines can be used for lining, shading, and packing, it’s a reasonable trade-off.
This set comes with a rotary machine pen with a Japanese motor. The body is CNC-machined aircraft aluminum, which means it’s durable, and it doesn’t get hot in your hand.
Next, it comes with a compact power supply and foot controller. There are needle cartridges and disposable covers to keep the machine clean. It all fits in the carrying case.
Stigma offers a 1-year warranty.
Stigma Complete Tattoo Kit Pro
Not every rotary machine looks like a fat marker. Here’s one that resembles a coil machine. In fact, it comes with a coil machine. Both are appropriate for lining and shading.
If you’re anxious to try both kinds of tattoo machines, this kit is the answer.
There’s a power supply, a rainbow assortment of inks, needles and cartridges, and other accessories. Sadly, there’s no practice skin.
Also, Stigma recommends purchasing better ink for tattooing human skin.
Solong Tattoo Kit Rotary Machine Kit
Solong has crammed most of the essentials into this beginner kit. It offers a lot of value for the money.
For one, it has a pen-type rotary machine with 20 needle cartridges of the most common sizes.
Then, there’s a digital power supply with foot controller. It’s CE-certified and is covered by a 1-year warranty.
There are 8 bottles of ink labeled with their own brand. Plus, there’s transfer paper, practice skin, ink cups, disposable gloves, and a travel case.
Stick and poke
Get back to the basics and learn to tattoo the way it’s been done for millennia.
Stick and poke tattoos are how permanent body art got its start.
All you need is a needle and ink. But you might want to consider a kit few extras to make it more comfortable.
Dragonhawk Hand Poke and Stick Tattoo Kit
Instead of clenching the skinny steel needle in your fingers and trying to keep it steady while you poke holes in yourself, you need something to make it easier.
Some artists have taped needles to tongue depressors. But that’s not user-friendly as they are flat and uncomfortable to hold.
Enter this innovative piece of plastic. It’s a rounded grip for the tattoo needle that makes it more like using a Sharpie on your skin.
You can sterilize it and reuse it. The 3D-printed plastic meets FDA guidelines for Skin Surface Devices.
The kit also comes with needles, ink caps, a marker for outlining your design, disposable gloves, transfer paper, a razor, and a bottle of black ink.
This is the cheapest option to start tattooing. It’s never gone out of style.
Are you curious about tattooing, or committed to becoming an artist?
In either case, there’s a tattoo starter kit that’s perfect for you.
There are beginner kits for every budget, too.
But please keep things clean and safe for yourself and anyone you tattoo. Besides the necessary equipment, be sure you get supplies to maintain a sanitary workspace. Use the suggestions at the beginning of the article to fill in whatever lacks in the kit you choose.
Once you have your new setup and have broken it in, come back and tell us about your experience. It will help other novice artists on their journey.