Tattoo Lingo

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There is specialized lingo associated with the tattoo world, including scratcher, barrel, prison tat and tramp stamp. Learn the meaning of different words in tattoo shops with information from an experienced tattoo artist in this free video on tattoo lingo.

Part of the Video Series: Tattoo Artists & Advice
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Lenny of Addictive 2 Tattoos; I'm going to talk to you today about tattoo lingo. This is a specialized field where you're going to see the people using words that perhaps you've never heard but perhaps you have heard some of them. One of our most popular ones that people use is scratcher. A scratcher's someone who doesn't really work in the shop. That means they're not following health department guide lines. That means perhaps they've never had any professional training. It also means they may not be giving you the safest tattoo you can get. So my advice first of all is stay away from a scratcher, go to a professional shop. When you get into a tattoo studio you'll hear people refer to our tattoo machines as guns. They're not guns. Guns have bullets, tattoo machines have needles. Our tattoo machines are made specifically for what we use them for and they're basically the same design that we've been using since they were invented around the time of Edison. In this business also you'll hear comments about things like how well does the ink show up on my skin? Am I light or am I dark? Well light and dark doesn't have that much difference as far as the ink showing up. What makes the difference there is the tone of your skin. If you're yellow or you're red based then we know we need to use contrasting colors with that. In this business also you'll hear people talk about their barrels. Well the barrel is actually the piece of the machine that holds the needle that allows the needle to run up and down from the tattoo machine into the skin. A barrel is simply a device that holds the needle in place and gives us something to hold onto when we're doing our tattooing. In this business also you'll hear people use words like prison tats. Well prison tats are definitely a different variety of tattoo. Mostly these are being done in places where people are being incarcerated. They're generally illegal in a jail or prison to do tattooing. In this case the reason is because they don't allow them to have tattoo equipment in the prison. So they have to make their own tattoo machines out of things like little motors from voice recorders, using toothbrushes that are bent, using sharpened guitar strings, using the soot off of burned up Styrofoam cups or scraping that off the bottom of their shoes and making ink form that, and mixing it with urine and then tattooing that into peoples skin. A prison tat is not something you'd probably want to get if you can help it. It would advise against it in fact. And another thing you might here people talk about is the world famous tramp stamp. This is a tattoo generally put on the lower back portion of a woman’s body. The word came about because people that were getting these were often living in trailer parks and didn't have a lot of money, and they were considered to be tramps and the name stuck. And so today when you hear people talk about a tramp stamp, that's a woman who has a tattoo on the lower part of her back. I'm Lenny at Addicted 2 Tattoos, have a good day.

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