Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tattoo Practice Skin vs. Grapefruit

Sounds like an epic battle...or not but I can now offer a little perspective on both, pros, cons, and personal preference. There are substantial differences between the two and I went into my testing thinking that practice skin would be far superior because it was supposes to mimic skin, but after testing both "products" I have come to a different conclusion.

Practice skin is manufactured by a few companies and mine came from MOM. Upon opening the package I found it to be a little rubbery but not nearly as flexible as I had hoped. The one cool thing about this is that you can rubber band it to sections of your body if they aren't too curvy so that you can simulate tattooing on a specific area which is a huge plus. As I started using it I noticed something right off the bat, the ink didn't seem to take very well (this could be my lack of experience and being a total newb), this bothered my greatly because I was having to overwork areas. One of my problems I think was after reading the Guy Aitchison manual he talked about running his machine at as low an ampage as possible so that he can make lots of passes over it. I had been working it at 6-8 but when I cranked it to the 10-12 range I found it going into the practice skin far easier.

Now for the grapefruit I didn't make a stencil to transfer, just freehanded a nautical star. One of the more inherant problems with grapefruit are their shape which makes stencil transferring pretty difficult...plus I suck at it still. I personally don't like the shape of the grapefruit because even for small designs it obscures your lines from your vision, it makes the process a little slower because you have to readjust so often. Despite these flaws, the ink goes into the grapefruit effortlessly... and even more so when you clean up your work you don't lose the ink as much.

The problem that I now face is which is more accurate? You can't practice your stretch on grapfruit but I'm pretty sure it's a more skin realistic surface, I'm going to continue working with both because I need to build up handstrength, and practice is practice but this is one of many reasons I am discovering I need to get into an internship fast, I have too many questions that my materials don't answer, and that other people won't help me with.

12 comments:

  1. I've been asking questions and getting mentored by one of my friends who is a really good tattoo artist. Up to this point, I've been reading about sanitation, blood born pathogens, machine setup, technique, etc. I finally got some pretty beginner equipment in yesterday and I'm itching to tear it apart and reassemble it with better parts. Once that is together, grapefruit tattooing is a priority, and a long-term activity I plan on taking up. Keep up the good work! From what I've read, the practice skins are shit. Keep posting your work... I'm interested to see how it comes out.

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  2. Hey Nick,
    Try your local butcher, I found one that supplies me pig skin and it's great for practice,... plus you might be able to get it for free.

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  3. Those are some great comments, I'm another new guy trying to get answers about tattooing, but it seems unless you KNOW someone in that field, nobody really wants to help. I put some videos together in a blog called NEW2TATTOO on blogspot that might have some answers that you might have the link is on the top of my site 365-skulls. Keep writting.

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  4. I myself am a newb and started using practice skin assuming it would be the best bet but then as you mentioned the ink didn't want to take to it too well and I was having to over work areas and couldn't figure out wether it was me, the skin, or the ink but having read this i'm convinced that it's the skin, definitely not spending the money they want for it again. Thanks for info and keep up the good work

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  5. definately.build your hand strength!!! i recomend pigs skin because it is most similar to human skin and it takes ink very well, as for the curveture of the grapefruit- you should get use to the angles and curves simply because the human body isnt flat and as an artist you will have to tattoo shoulders elbows knees etc and its good to have experience with curved objects before you commit to human skin hope it helps!

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  6. Only inked myself, but i've herd greypfruit n' pigskin r' the best. eech for it's own reesons.
    sorry, missing uh key on my keybord. hnd control, proper ink uhmounts n' direction, n' most of ull, equipment...know your equipment. mess round' with it until you know it inside n' out. peece.

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  7. wow, yeah i just bought a whole pack of fake skins and it basically feels and acts like a giant sheet of pencil eraser. It barely holds the ink, very frustrating to work with. The ink is also really hard to wipe off no matter how much Vaseline i use lol. The entire sheet was gray by the time i was done.
    Def. not worth it.
    Im going to try the grapefruits next and maybe get some pig skin after that.
    Thanks!

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  8. Hi , as the last guy said .. The practice skins sold on ebay are really making you feel like you're tattooing on a big eraser.. Which is in no way accurate. Grapefruits are the way to go and then move on to pigskins. There's no way someone can learn anything appart from hand strength from inking those rubbery skins.

    To the fruit section !

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  9. No one can learn from grapefruit either! its a friggin waste of good fruit! SERIOUSLY!!
    Love me, (professional tattoo artist of 4yrs and counting)

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  10. I've used the fake skins and found with each one i ink it looks 100 times better then the one before it.I found don't use vasaline untill your ready to wipe your work. It is definatly harder to get it to hold the ink then real skin but I feel if Ican get a tat to look good on a piece of rubber its gonna look sick in real skin.

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  11. no human skin , no grapefruit ,no plastic skin so how did you learn?

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  12. Everyone has to start somewhere you fool you just don't pick up a machine and go straight on to skin it's dangerous if you don't know what your doing. I used practice skins 4 times then a pack of oranges before I tried skin and before someone says scratcher that term is bull crap everyone has to start somewhere.

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