Tattooing Close Up (in Slow Motion)

Tattooing close up in slow motion
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Video Transcript:

Hey it’s me, Destin welcome back to Smarter Every Day. Not really sure how this is gonna work out but I want to know a little bit more about tattoos. So I’m just walking up to a tattoo parlour and seeing if they will let me video a tattoo being applied in slow motion with a Phantom. Let’s see how this works. [tattoo machine buzz] OK we’re in the shop, this is.

. Leah? Right? – Mm hmm. Hi.

– OK this is Leah and she’s an artist. We’re not supposed to say.. What, is that what we call you? – A tattoo artist, tattooer, tattooist, in England they use tattooist.

– Excellent. OK so, can you teach us how to tattoo somebody with.. I guess this is the gun right? – Well machine, we don’t call it a gun, that’s a no no.

– So what do we have here? – This is a rotary machine. There are a few different types of tattoo machines but the most commonly used is the coil and I would say the second most common is the rotary machine.

– Oh really. Can you show us how it works?

– Sure. This itself is the motor. – Ahuh. – The head of the needle, actually the needle bar connects here, and it goes through a tube, which this is. – Is that what you hold?

– We hold this. This is technically the grip. I’m gonna put on gloves. Not because I really need to in this case because I’m not tattooing anyone and all of this is sterile, but it’s habit.

It feels strange to open a bag without gloves on.

– Oh really? – So I’m just gonna do it. – So it’s kind of an important thing? – Yeah. (Destin) I used to think that a tattoo machine came to a single needle point and it injected ink under the skin.

It’s actually multiple needles and they’re grouped together for lining, however for shading it’s more like a paintbrush. Ink is held in between those multiple needle points using capillary action and when it punctures the skin it drags the ink down into the dermis. – Tada! – Gotcha. So you’ve got.

. Now you have a needle in a tube attached to a machine, and you’re ready to make that machine work. So what do you do? Power I’m guessing? – Power.

– Rotary machines are pretty easy to understand. Here this motor has rotational motion, and it’s translated to linear motion here at the needle bar. That’s pretty simple right? Coil machines however are a bit more complicated. When Leah steps on this foot pedal, that direct current is applied to the two coils.

This turns those coils into an electromagnet and it pulls this armature bar down, moving the needle. When the armature bar moves down, it breaks the circuit away from the contact screw and that causes the electromagnetic field to collapse. The spring then returns the armature and it reenergizes the circuit. This just happens over and over again and that’s it. That’s how a coil machine works.

One word of caution though. Just because you understand how a coil machine works, doesn’t mean you know how to use it. Did you really tattoo yourself? You did it? Let me see.

– Yeah it’s ridiculous. – Oh that’s.. – That’s what happens. – So it’s a bad idea?

– It’s a very bad idea. – What’s your name? – Shawn. – Shawn says do not tattoo yourself. Go to a professional like Leah right.

– Yes. (Destin) OK now that we know how the machines work it’s time to investigate what the needles are doing to the skin. I brought special lights and a special macro lens so we can record it at first 1500 frames per second and then ramp it up to 3200 frames per second. This is why tattoos hurt. [music] OK I have decided that I want to feel what this needle feels like because it’s actually going in the skin and pulling it up and you said you can do this without actually tattooing me.

– Yeah I’m not gonna use.. I’m just gonna use a needle.

– I’m a little nervous. I want to know what it feels like, but I don’t want a tattoo.

This is the next best thing right? – Yeah exactly. – OK, deep breath in. – Deep breath in, breathe it out slowly. [tattoo machine buzz] – Whewhoo.

That wasn’t bad. – OK. – OK I can handle that. – That was it. – OK what did you do?

– See there? – Oh.

I can see why people get addicted to that. Because it’s like a..

it’s like fear. – Yeah. – So this was the line needle and this was the shading needle. – Correct. – And how many needles were on the line needle?

– Five. – And how many were on the shading needle? – Seven. – There you go. Smarter Every Day.

– On the front of your forearm I think it hurts more than the back.

– You think I could take it? – Of course you could. – Alright, so I hope you enjoyed this episode of Smarter Every Day. If you want to continue getting smarter by letting me do crazy stuff, please support Smarter Every Day on audible.

com. So go to and you can download any audio book you want for free. I have learned that Leah actually reads a lot. Do you have a book that you recommend?

– Yes I’d recommend Native Son by Richard Wright. – Yeah? – Mm hmm. – OK just..

just continue. – OK – Anyway, so uh.. Anyway, that helps Smarter Every Day and it’s probably gonna pay for Leah’s work here.

So, also, follow Leah and Seejay. I’ll leave links in the video description. She has a really cool Instagram account. – You see what I mean about the frosting right? (Destin) I do.

– How it elevates the top layer of skin there. – OK, so when you.. – Are we getting Smarter Every Day? – Yeah.

Do you actually know about Smarter Every Day? – Yeah I subscribe to it. – Oh fantastic. Was this done here? – It was.

Leah did it. – Awesome. Crazy. Did I just get cred because that guy knew who I was? – Yes.

– OK excellent. [laugh] – You’re not just some weirdo coming into my shop. [laughs] (Destin) Alright so this is your famous tattoo? – I posted on reddit and got a few hits. – That’s awesome.

Do you like macaroni and cheese? – Yes. – Anyway, I’m Destin. You’re getting Smarter Every Day. Have a good one.

This is fake by the way. We’re not actually tattooing me. [laugh] It was a good fake though.

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