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Wrapping around the tattoo tube and tip, which together create a housing for the tattoo needle, tattoo grips are the artist’s main point of contact with their tattoo machine. A tattoo grip provides much greater stability, comfort, and control than would be possible gripping the tattoo tube directly.
Tattoo grips come in a variety of materials and sizes to suit your needs and preferences as an artist. Some artists prefer small, narrow grips, while others enjoy bulkier ones – the only way to find out which grip works best for you is to try different ones for yourself. As you test them, remember that you’ll be using them for many hours at a time. Even if it feels comfortable at first, will it stay comfortable throughout a long day of tattooing? You should also shop for tattoo grips with a specific tattoo machine in mind, as some grips may only be compatible with particular styles or brands of tattoo machines.
Aluminum tattoo grips have become increasingly popular because they are lightweight and can be anodized for a more attractive and personalized finish. On top of that, they are durable and reusable, as long as you have access to an autoclave and all the necessary autoclave equipment. Many of today’s aluminum grips also incorporate ratchet systems that enable needle depth adjustments without changing your machine setup.
Stainless steel tattoo grips are relatively cheap, durable, and autoclavable for safe reuse. They come in many different sizes, but may not be compatible with every tattoo machine or setup. Many stainless steel grips are actually complete grip/tube/tip assemblies, so be sure to keep your most frequently used needle sizes and configurations in mind as you search. While these single-piece units are less customizable, they’re also much simpler to autoclave than three separate pieces.
Disposable tattoo grips are a great option for artists who don’t have access to an autoclave, or for those who travel more than they work out of a studio. Disposable grips are typically made of soft foam for a comfortable and ergonomic feel. You can also find plastic grip/tube/tip combinations to simplify your setup even further.
There are tons of tattoo grip, tube, and tip options out there. If you’re just getting into the business and still aren’t sure where to start, you can find more information in the Tattoo Tubes, Tips, and Grips article from our Help Center.