High Quality Materials
Underground Tattoo uses Eternal and Empire inks. I primarily use an FK Irons Xion Spectra tattoo machine with Cheyenne Safety Needle cartridges.
Many tattooists complain about the high price of the Cheyenne needles (myself included), and most turn to cheaper knock-off brands instead. I have tried many different brands of needles but have chosen to stay with the higher-priced Cheyennes because for me they are more consistent and reliable. If a needle becomes clogged with ink, the Cheyennes have a removeable tip that allows for direct cleaning of the needles. The higher price is worth it.
Same with the inks. If clients are spending thousands of dollars on their tattoos, they want to feel like quality products were used. Eternal inks are a safe, vegetable-based product manufactured in America that have continually impressed myself and my clients. And for my black and gray work I like to use Empire's white wash series.
I have used many tattoo machines over the years. The Xion Spectra is my most favorite thus far, and also the most expensive. I put in the needle cartridge, adjust the depth, and I tattoo. I don't waste time fiddling with parts, changing out tubes, filing points, replacing springs, troubleshooting issues...this machine just lets me work. I like well-built tools.
For those who don't know the term, flash refers to all the designs on the wall that you can pick from in most tattoo shops. If you choose a design off the wall, chances are there are hundreds of other people out there with the exact same tattoo as you.
We are in the internet age, and clients do find cool art designs online that they fall in love with, so I don't always do custom original tattoos on everyone. But I do offer the service.
Custom design means I spend time listening to my clients' ideas and visions. I sketch and share my designs with them and whittle away at it until we have something that only they will have. Here's an example:
A client found this cool firefighter tattoo online. Since he's a firefighter, I asked if I could take photos of him in his gear to use as reference to create something more unique to him.
And get this - I made my own tattoo practice app in 2018 for the iPad Pro that lets me practice tattooing by simulating the needle patterns going in and out of the surface. For this particular design, I decided to practice first since it is very elaborate. And I was very happy with the results:
Tattoo sessions are private. People are not coming in and out and disrupting my work flow. I've spent years developing a business model that caters to the client and to myself. I've put quality over quantity. I don't make nearly as much money as other tattoo shops, but I don't get burned out, I enjoy the experience, and I keep improving year-after-year.
I don't do 6 to 12-hour sessions. Most clients sit well for 2-3 hours, and if there is more to do then we schedule another session. The downside to how I run my shop is that as my client list grows, people have to wait longer before they can get a session. Weekends book up the fastest. I don't work after 5pm so that causes scheduling problems for lots of people. But hey - I get up at 6am every day. After 5pm I am too tired to start work. You don't want me tattooing on you when I'm in no mood to tattoo. That's just how it is. I just hope the wait for most people is worth it.