Have you ever wondered why tattoo artists use grip tape? Apparently, there is more than one option for them to choose between, each with advantages and drawbacks. It is crucial for tattoo artists to make because grips, tips, and tattoo tubes are the key components of their toolkit.
Tattoo artists use grip tape to provide additional cushioning as well as grip for their hands while tattooing. The tape is usually self-adhesive and can be made from paper, cloth, or plastic. Using grip tape can help prevent degenerative problems that come with everyday tattooing.
Whether you are an experienced or beginner tattoo artist or just someone interested in the mechanics behind the ink, it is important to understand why artists use grip tape and which type of tape is the most beneficial to use.
What Do Tattoo Artists Use Grip Tape For?
Tattoo artists use grip tape to bulk up their existing tube grip, allowing additional cushioning and comfort. Grip tape is an easy way to comfortably widen the artists’ tube grip while also preventing degenerative problems that arise when tattooing frequently.
Grip tape minimizes the damaging vibrations caused by the machines and tubes used by artists’ hands. Therefore, a tattoo artist will be able to have an extended career by preventing issues such as carpal tunnel, numbness in their fingers, and calluses.
There are three different types of grip tape:
- Paper tape
- Cloth tape
- Plastic tape
Autoclavable Vs Disposable Grips, Tubes, Or Tips
Who would have thought there would be more than one type of grip tape? Tattoo artists can choose between autoclavable or disposable tattoo grips, tubes, or tips. Both choices’ positive and negative features are analyzed below, so keep reading if you’re interested!
Autoclavable Grips, Tubes, Or Tips For Tattoo Artists
The various parts (grip, tube, and tip) are most likely sold separately when heading in the autoclavable direction. Having to buy separate components may seem like a drawback, but it does have its benefits.
The benefits of utilizing reusable autoclavable parts are:
- Less equipment required – autoclavable units can be reused for an infinite number of tattoos, whereas the tattoo artist would need at least one disposable unit per tattoo. The artist may even need more than two disposable units per tattoo if they do a tattoo with numerous style tips.
- Lower long-term costs – although autoclavable units can cost more upfront than a disposable set, the tattoo artists’ costs will be saved in the long run.
Disposable units can only be used once before needing to be thrown away, which means that for each tattoo the artist does, they will be spending from $0.5 to several dollars on each tip, grip, and tube.
This will add up to an enormous amount for a tattoo artist who sees various clients every day!
After just a few uses, the autoclavable sets will be worth the higher upfront expense, and the only running costs will be those associated with sterilizing and cleaning the unit between uses.
- Customizability – tattoo artists love to be able to customize their equipment, which is why the autoclavable units can be seen as more desirable. With autoclavable units, tattoo artists can mix and match the components to suit their style and current type of work as the parts are all separate.
When customizing disposable tattoo units, because the parts of units are fixed, the only part that can be modified is the type of grip tape used to pad it. Not very exciting!
There are various different brands, styles, shapes, and material options for the autoclavable option to choose from when it comes to the grip. This way, tattoo artists can easily find a grip that feels the most comfortable and fits their hands the best.
One downside to using reusable autoclavable units is the extensive maintenance and cleaning required. The cleaning utensils and supplies that you will need to preserve the various components are:
- Latex gloves
- Ultradose germicidal solution
- Tattoo tube cleaner
- Scrubbing brushes
- Ultrasonic cleaning fluid
- Ultrasonic cleaning tank
- Sterilization pouches
- An autoclave
Disposable Grips, Tubes, Or Tips For Tattoo Artists
If you are looking at the disposable option, the grip, tube, and tip can be purchased as one singular unit. Each unit is pre-sterilized, so you can pop open the set and get straight to work as a tattoo artist, and you do not need to worry about sterilizing costs.
When you are finished tattooing, tattoo artists can throw the set away; instead of having to scrub each component, run it through an ultrasonic cleaner and finally autoclave the set (as you would have to do with the autoclavable unit).
For a tattoo artist who travels to work with clients or works in multiple shops, the hassle-free disposable grip, tube, and tip make more sense than using an autoclavable set.
Although using disposable grips, tubes, and tips may be more expensive in the long run, it is not always the case. If tattoo artists buy disposable units in bulk or from a wholesale or distributor store, it can sometimes end up being cheaper than the autoclavable option.
This is without a doubt the easier and more convenient option.
Deciding Factors Between Autoclavable And Disposable Units
Since the cost factor can be in favor of either of the two types of grips, tubes, or tips, you should make your final decision based on two other factors: convenience and customizability.
Which is more important to you as a tattoo artist? Do you want to be able to open the packaging and get straight to work without the hassle of having to sterilize the unit, or would you rather be able to customize your components to suit your style?
Some tattoo artists find it most convenient to have both autoclavable and disposable units on hand, as they can take advantage of both of the units’ benefits.
What you could even do is mix and match – pair a disposable tip and tube with an autoclavable grip. This way, you can have the benefit of the convenience of the disposable parts while also being able to customize your grip.
Grip tape is clearly a vital component of tattoo artists’ toolkits, and they need to decide which type of tape works best for them to make their job a bit easier. This extra layer of material provides additional comfort and prevents degenerative issues in the future.
Alternatively, tattoo artists can choose between reusable autoclavable or disposable grips, tubes, and tips. While both have pros and cons, the cost (if planned sensibly) of the two options can be fairly similar. The final decision will be based on whether the tattoo artist prefers convenience or customizability.
Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you
Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.
Design and tattoo ideas
For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):
- Great Book of Tattoo Designs, Revised Edition: More than 500 Body Art Designs (Fox Chapel Publishing) Fantasy, Celtic, Floral, Wildlife, and Symbol Designs for the Skin by Lora Irish
- The Big Book of Small Tattoos – Vol.1: 400 small original tattoos for women and men by Roberto Gemori
- Tiny Tattoos: Over 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks by Rebecca Vincent.
If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).
The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):