The process of creating tattoo techniques isn’t a quick one. The methods of creating beautiful pieces of permanent body art that we have become so used to in tattoo studios today have taken plenty of time to establish themselves. Before the modern-day tattoo machine came along, cultures across the globe had their own means of making ink stay in the skin in intricate and unique designs. Looking back, many of the tools used in the various tattoo techniques might seem a little crude, but it’s important to think about just how impressive and effective these tools would have been at the time of their use. The tattoo techniques that were so readily used were achieved by making use of the materials that were easily found, these became the traditional counterparts of the needs and machines that are found in the hands of modern artists today. In years gone by, the familiar buzz of the tattoo machine that is commonly heard in studios around the world today would have instead been the sound of the tapping of wood to push the ink into the skin and create a design. Thanks to modern technology, artists today no longer have to sharpen animal bone or hand tap ink into the skin.


In Part 1 of this two-part blog, we looked deeper into the tattoo techniques that originated from both Ancient Egypt and later in Polynesia, but there’s so much more to discover. Each and every culture is unique and brought different tattoo techniques to the table for modern cultures and artists to use as influence. Let’s not jump ahead just yet though, before taking a look at some of the more modern inventions and changes in tattoo techniques, let’s uncover some examples of what tattoo techniques looked like across both Asia and Scandinavia.


Tattoo Techniques In Thailand  

The tattoo techniques that originated in Thailand have some serious longevity. Sak Yant tattoos are still going today with tourists often returning from exploring this country with a hand poked tattoo to showcase their experience to others. As a deeply rooted part of Thai culture, Sak Yant was taken up by Buddhist Monks to become just a small part of their rituals. Just like with many other techniques, Sak Yant tattoos are quickly recognisable with their geometric designs that are often incredibly intricate. To create these symbolic tattoos, one of the most simple tattoo techniques is used. Here, a stick of bamboo is split at one end and dipped in ink before being pushed into the skin to create one ink mark at a time. This slow and steady method is a prime example of the painstaking time and care that traditional tattoo techniques required in order to create a final piece.    


Japanese Tattoo Techniques  

Japan is the birthplace of yet another of the fascinating tattoo techniques of old; Tebori. Tebori is quite simply the art of hand tattooing that, just like Sak Yant, has its own tool that was designed specially to handle this style. As is the case with many other hand tattoo techniques, Tebori has all too often referred to as a type of ‘stick and poke’ tattoo. This might not be entirely wrong to say, but there are some clear differences that set this authentic method apart from the stick and poke tattoo techniques that became popular in Western cultures later on. One thing that’s for certain is that Tebori requires a huge amount of skill. To achieve the designs, a Tebori master would use a wooden handle with a row of needles set in one end that would be dipped into ink and poked into the skin. By resting the stick on their thumb, a Tebori master would be able to both tattoo the skin and hold it taught at the same time. As one of the most time-consuming tattoo techniques, Tebori would take hours upon hours to complete, making the continuous hand motion an impressive feat.  


Ancient Tattoo Techniques In Scandinavia  

Scandinavia has a significant association with the world of tattooing as the location of the discovery of Otzi the Iceman. The mummified remains of Otzi hold heaps of historical importance, but they also happen to hold some of the oldest evidence of tattoo techniques ever found. Dating back over 5,000 years, it’s thought that the tattoo marks on Otzi’s skin were also a sign of the first uses of acupuncture. The  techniques that would have been used on Otzi are believed to be very basic. Scientists and historians have come to the general conclusion that the skin was punctured to release pain in the area with the helping hand of a sharp bone before a material like charcoal was rubbed in to leave the tattoo marks. Despite pain relief being the main purpose of these tattoos, it’s interesting to wonder why these permanent marks were left at all and what tattoo techniques this ancient method influenced.  


Modern Techniques And The US

The US is home to some of the more modern tattoo techniques that artists, and those sitting in the chair, have now become more accustomed to. The tattoo techniques that began here weren’t just a natural transition from traditional methods though, these techniques were the result of some serious ingenuity and advancements in technology. In 1891, a humble New York tattoo artist from Connecticut would invent and patent the first modern tattoo machine. Samuel O’Reilly changed the way that tattoo techniques would progress for good with his startling and game-changing invention. Just a few years later in 1904, a fellow New York tattoo artist, Charlie Wagner, invented the first vertical position coil machine to take O’Reilly’s original invention to the next level. These inventions didn’t go unnoticed and sparked a domino effect in improvements to tattoo techniques that would continue to this day.  


The machines and tattoo supplies that are continually being imagined and manufactured today don’t just follow on from the more modern, notable inventions, they have emerged from the lessons that have been learned from traditional tattoo techniques that have long been practiced across the globe. We stock an extensive range of tattoo supplies for artists to perfect their up-to-date tattoo techniques, visit us at our Mansfield store or place your order online.