Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown

Monday, May 21, 2018

Carpe Diem! - Setting Up A Tattoo Shop!

Bertie Keeping A Watchful Eye On My Progress
Becoming a Tattoo artist has been as much about starting a new part (full?) time career as it has been about challenging myself to re-define my understanding of happiness - particularly where work is concerned. Academia has and continues to wane in favour as the issues around the profession has been nothing if not frustrating even at the best of times as academic mobbing seems to be suffocating the energy and optimism out of so many good teachers. Adding to the latter the recent disappointments I experienced when trying to invest in other people's businesses and its become clear to me that I am holding myself back compared to so many younglings starting out in the tattoo profession. Hence my recent purchases ranging from a 1972 VW Bus (aptly named Bertie) to my most recent expenditure at World Wide Tattoo Supply Canada.

Update On Bertie

Bertie's Former Owner Takes One Last Ride!
Picking up my 1972 VW Bus was a straightforward matter. I had essentially contacted CAA to collect Bertie and transport him to Belmont Pneus Inc. I had hoped to get the little fella into a paint booth by June but unfortunately, that doesn't look like its going to happen. Bertie needs much TLC and its unlikely that he will be up and running this summer as I had previously hoped. I am waiting to hear back from the friendly folks at Belmont Pneus but the truth is, whilst the body is in pretty great shape, the underside of the bus needs to be fixed (e.g. cross members).

The Saddest Little Bus Ever To Be Towed - Poor Thing. 
Just the other day I found myself driving along and saw a mobile barber shop here in Sherbrooke. It seems I am not the only one with the intention of making a mobile business! It isn't clear yet whether or not Bertie will actually ever be mobile again or if he will be a standing fixture in a future shop that I plan on opening.  Regardless, these little busses are becoming crazy expensive and having seen one in worse condition than Bertie going for a thousand dollars more than what I paid, I am still delighted to have him on board. Who knows, I may just trailer the little bastard around with me and set up shop at whatever festival and or concert I want in future! Either way, by the time I am done with him he is going to be a great marketing tool.

Setting Up A Tattoo Shop!

All The Pretty Colours
Pic © Todd Beck Tatouage
Taking a page out of Todd Beck's book, I decided to seize the day and set up shop out of a new house my wife and I recently purchased. Whilst not a permanent solution, it will at the very minimum give me the opportunity to continue my apprenticeship with Todd (he lives nearby) and begin taking customers on a regular basis. I have been looking over the equipment lists available on various websites over the course of the last eight months and have noticed that the prices can vary from one place to another. What is even more frustrating, adding the word "tattoo" in front of any product tends to increase the cost fo said item rather significantly (more on this later). Whilst other places, including Eikon Tattoo Equipment & Supplies and Equipements Tatouage Extrême will only sale to you if you are a verified Tattoo Artist. Verification means providing them with your portfolio, website and or reference from someone (e.g. whomever you are learning from) before they will even let you add something to your online shopping cart. On the one hand, I applaud their approach. However, as evidenced by my recent purchase with World Wide Tattoo Supply Canada, it can be easily circumvented. I did register with Eikon in particular but inevitably was too impatient to wait for "their approval" as the costs of setting up a shop is not for the faint of heart and I didn't want to put it off any longer. Below is the list of gooding that I purchased. Everything was purchased at World Wide Tattoo Supply Canada unless otherwise stipulated.

Cheyenne Hawk Pen

Click Here For Technical Information
After Crystal-Marie kindly loaned me her Cheyenne Hawk Spirit Tattoo Machine for a few weeks to tryout, I have to confess, I was chuffed at how light and effortless it was to use. It was a prelude to figuring out if I would like the Cheyenne Hawk Pen, which she also has. The Cheyenne Hawk Pen is similar to the type of machine that aestheticians use when applying permanent make-up. This was being sold for around $35 to $40 less than their competitors (listed above)! 😏 I have done my apprenticeship using traditional coil machines and whilst I have no issue with them per se, I wanted to try something different and the Cheyenne warranty seems to be the best in the market even if problematic to get started (so I have read). I bought the power supply adaptor and a spare Cheyenne machine cord as well.

Liner & Shader Needle Cartridge for Cheyenne Machine

Apparently the ink cannot escape the cartridges?
I purchased two sets of the following needle cartridges for my Cheyenne pen: 7, 9, and 11 were liners and 1 and 9 for the shaders. Specifically, I purchased Round Shader Needles. Cheyenne really took the work out of prepping a machine when they up with this system. It is effortless to install and remove and saves time. Whilst a tad pricey, they do sell knock offs but the latter does allow ink to escape the bottom of the cartridge. I know Todd is curious about them and will likely be giving the machine a go when I receive it.

iPower Watch Power Supply

Battery Life 4-5 hours For a Cheyenne Hawk Pen.
In addition to the Cheyenne Power Supply #1 (PU1), I also purchased the iPower Watch Portable Power Supply. It allows tattoo artists to work independently from traditional power sources and is presently the closest thing to cordless as you can hope to get. I have seen them sell for as cheap as $90 on eBay (but am suspicious of their authenticity) to upwards of $235. I bought this because when Bertie is up and running it would be nice to have something portable and useable at all times.

Stencil Fax Stencil Copier Machine

Mid-Range Pricing For This Particular Model
Who knew a stencil machine could sell anywhere between $130 to $1200!? I purchased this Stencil Fax for $260 along with some Atsui Transfer Paper. There were smaller, more expensive models available. The Atsui paper will work on both the machine and by hand. It's one of those things that you just need in this day and age as customers have less and less confidence in the hand drawn abilities of their tattoo artists.

Eternal Ink Set

Feel The Rainbow!
In addition to a set of 50 1oz Eternal Ink, I also purchased an 8oz bottle of Lining Black, Triple Black, Eternal White and 1 4oz of Eternal Gray. Whilst I plan to focus predominantly on black and white for a while, I am not adversed to throwing in a splash of colour from time to time. These are the inks that Todd uses and I have really liked the way that the colour works with skin. Some of my tattoos are over a year old and still look fresh and vibrant.

Tattoo Safety First (DVD)

Partly because I want to use this for a class that I am teaching in the autumn (nursing ethics) but also because its an important part of being a tattoo artist, this is a great alternative for those who can't afford the $120+ - 8 hour class being offered in the Eastern Townships. It will compliment my Heart and Stroke Foundation First Aid Certificate, let alone my previous experience working as a patient care attendant. In any case, there's no such thing as being too prepared!


5 drawer Combo with Storage Compartment
This 5 drawer Combo with Storage Compartment cost me $138 ($158.67 including taxes) from Rona and shipping was free. Need I say more?

3" Padding Portable Wooden 2 Fold Massage Table
Salon Hydraulic Rolling Stool
I purchased this Portable Wooden 2 Fold Massage Table from Greenlife SPA Supply for $129.99. Similar versions of this are being sold for upwards of $266 on tattoo websites. So the lesson for today kids is to shop around. I also purchased a Salon Hydraulic Rolling Stool from them as well. Admittedly, there were cheaper stools to be had but I kinda just dig this one.

Tattoo Armrest

Tattoo Armrest

I purchased this Tattoo Armrest for a grand total of $70.00 new including shipping via eBay (again). I saw this model and similar going for over $140 on a variety of tattoo websites. Ridiculous. These things have a limited life span anyways so may as well save in the process.

OTTLITE® 24 Watt Wingshade Floor Lamp
According to their website, "OttLite natural daylight illumination helps reduce eyestrain for hours of creating in comfort. OttLite allows you to see details clearly and colours accurately". What more can a tattoo artist ask for?

Gracefulvara Tattoo Squeeze Bottle Diffuser Green Soap Wash Lab Tool
Who knew a squeeze bottle could cost nearly $20 from a tattoo supply shop!? Got this Gracefulvara Tattoo Squeeze Bottle (500ml) for $4.59 cents ($8.59 including shipping) on Amazon. With all the plastic bottles floating in the ocean these things should be made from that and given to Tattoo Artsists for free.

Hustle Butter Deluxe Tattoo Aftercare Ointment Vegan Individual Packs
I love Hustle Butter. I started using it back when I was getting my left arm tattooed at Nepthys Tattoo. It's a great product and having used several others over the years, this is the one that I keep coming back too with one exception (see below). This is also where eBay can shine from time to time. I picked up a box of 50 individual packs and will using these as complimentary gifts for my first fifty customers!

The only thing better than Hustle Butter (though HB smells nicer) is Bepanthen. This is an ointment used for a variety of purposes including burns, baby rash and yes, tattoos. It was Todd who introduced me to this product and with the exception of Hustle Butter, I haven't used anything else since. This will literally help your tattoo heal in such a way that peeling is minimal. Its a great item to have and a 30gr tube will last for a quite a while for average sized tattoos.  Finding this for sale online wholesale can be tricky though so shop around as deals are to be had. Again, eBay can be helpful.

Other Essentials Purchased From 
World Wide Tattoo Supplies Canada:

  1. Green Soap - Green Soap (Gallon) GSL
  2. Medical Tape - Invacare 1" Clear Transparent Surgical Tape (12pcs/box)
  3. Dental Bibs & Flat Bib Sheets - 3 Ply Dental Bib Tissue 13"x 17" (500-pack) Blue
  4. Sharps Container - Sharps Biohazard Container (1 Gal.) Large BC-L
  5. Tongue Depressors - Tongue Depressor 500/Box TD-500
  6. Skin Scribe - Sterile Skin Scribe w/ ruler (10pcs Pack) SS-10 Pack
  7. Stainless Steel Trays - Large Stainless Steel Tray 9.5" x 6" x 2" (With Lid) SSTRAY-L
  8. Spray Bottle 8oz - Aluminum Spray Bottle (Silver) SPRAY-SMALL
  9. Clip Cord Covers - Clip Cord Cover Roll (1,500 Feet Long) TMPC-COVER-ROLL
  10. Tattoo Machine Covers - Tattoo Machine Bags 500 TM-COVER
  11. Petroleum Jelly - 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly TA-JELLY
  12. Disposable Razors - Disposable Premium Razors 10 Pcs.
  13. Dettol Stencil Transfer Liquid - Dettol Antiseptic/Stencil Transfer Liquid 16.9 oz
  14. Squeeze Bottle Bag Covers - Squeeze Bottle Bags Covers 250pcs/box SQZ-BAG
  16. Cavicide Wipes - Cavicide Wipes- Surface Disinfectant (160 Wipes) CAVICIDE-WIPES
  17. Ultra Ink Cups - #24 Ultra Ink Cup (500 pcs)
  18. Ultra Ink Cups - #16 Ultra Ink Cup (500 pcs)
  19. Cohesive Bandages - BLACK Cohesive Bandages (1" inch wide x 5 yards) TAPE WRAP-BLK
  20. Mixed Stencil Ruler - Mixed Stencils of Random Shapes with Ruler TA-STENCIL-MIXED
  21. Large Circle Stencil Ruler - Large Circle Stencil Ruler TA-STENCIL-CIRCLE-L
  22. Circle Stencil Ruler - Circle Stencil Ruler TA-STENCIL-CIRCLE
  23. Oval Stencil Ruler - Oval Stencil Ruler TA-STENCIL-OVAL
  24. Tactical Black Nitrile Gloves - Tactical Plus Black Nitrile Gloves (Latex Free)
  25. UltraDerm Film Bandage - Ultra Derm Film Bandage 8 Yard Roll
  26. Tat Tech Light Box - Tat Tech Dimmable Ultra Bright Light Box

Remember Kids, Tattoos Are For Life
(Unless You Can Afford To Go Through The Painful Process of Having It Burned Off Your Flesh)
The list is never ending and I still have the following things to buy: Saran Wrap, Rubbing Alcohol Pads Lamp, Autoclave, Paper Towels and the infamous Tattoo Chair. The latter in particular seems to be one of the biggest ticket items for many professionals and the prices range from $750.00 to well over $3000. I had purchased two "regular" chairs for Bertie (regular Tattoo Chair wont fit inside the van) and may use those in the interim. I have seen dental chairs go for much less (used) and I have even toyed with the idea of buying an old barber chair. The dental chairs in particular seem better money for value. Time will tell. I am undoubtedly missing things from my To Do List so if you think of something, drop a note in the comments section below. But as just getting started, the above pretty much explains why I will be eating Kraft Dinner for the next month.

Complimentary Aftercare Package Provided With Every New Tattoo!
À la fin de votre nouveau tatouage, vous recevrez un mini paquet de soin offert par Ye Olde Cock Tattoo Emporium. Cela comprend un morceau de pansement film UltraDerm (similaire à Saniderm), un sachet gratuit de Hustle Butter (0,25 oz) et un pain de savon Art En Bulle (savon Pur ou savon 100% Olive) pour les peaux sensibles. Nous proposons également des tubes de Bepanthen et / ou Hustle Butter (1 oz ou 5 oz) à des prix compétitifs. Si vous êtes intéressé par un tatouage ou souhaitez même rafraîchir un ancien tatouage, n'hésitez pas à nous contacter dès aujourd'hui!

Upon completion of your new tattoo, you will receive a mini care package courtesy of Ye Olde Cock Tattoo Emporium. This includes a measured to fit piece of UltraDerm Film Bandage (similar to Saniderm), one complimentary sachet of Hustle Butter (.25oz) and one bar of Art En Bulle soap (either Pur soap or 100% Olive soap) for sensitive skin. We also offer tubes of Bepanthen and or Hustle Butter (1oz or 5oz) at competitive prices. If you are interested in getting a tattoo done or would like to even have an old tattoo refreshed, don't hesitate to contact us today!

Réservez Dès Aujourd'hui Pour Une Consultation!
Book Today For A Consultation!
Ye Olde Cock Tattoo Emporium
Service Bilingue - Bilingual Service
339 Rue Alexandre,
Sherbrooke, QC, J1H 4S9
Ph.: (873) 662 1701


  1. What a groovy idea with the VW bus! Wish you all the luck with whatever way you choose to open :)

    1. That Van is too awesome not to do something with! Thanks for the kind words! Enjoy your summer and ride safe! :)

  2. Congrats Mario! Pump up the ink :)


  4. Thanks for sharing. Great post very Informative, also checkout Paris Ink

    1. Thanks. However, whilst I don't mind you linking your website on my blog, take note, the majority of the pages on your website do not work! Thought you would want to know.