There are a few different methods, and machines, that tattoo artists can use to do their work. Most choose a personal favorite based on ease of use and comfort, but there’s a big emphasis in the industry on style too.

Studios, and artists, spend a lot of energy and effort on cultivating an image that matches the style of their work. One way an artist can really express their unique perspective is with a custom tattoo machine.

Different types of tattoo machines

Before deciding on a custom tattoo machine, it’s good to know more about the different types of tattoo machine that are available. First there is the most traditional, and still most widely used option: the electromagnetic coil tattoo machine. Over the years the styling of this variety has pretty much stayed the same. Next is the rotary tattoo machine, powered by an electric motor that can be configured to work at different speeds with different functions.

Others options include the pneumatic tattoo machine, which is a different system altogether. Liner machines are used to apply line work with the use of round grouping needles. Finally, shader machines are used to create contrast with variants of black ink.

These aspects of tattooing can also be accomplished by using different frames, like those found at Defiance Manufacturing. Most machines have four parts—the needle, a tube which holds ink; an electric motor; and a foot pedal used to control movement—but the frame is the part that can be changed out to create different results. (1)

There are many reasons why tattoo artists opt for custom tattoo machines, and here are just some of the advantages:

  1. Personalization

Getting the chance to use your own custom tattoo machine can allow for experimentation. This can provide you with an opportunity to find out what works best for you. Some mechanisms might work better with your own particular tattooing methods. By mixing and matching parts, you might be able to come up with the perfect tool for your practice.

  1. Design and aesthetic

So much of what draws people into tattoo artistry is about design skill and aesthetics. Most people from the outside would prefer to walk into a studio to find a cool vibe that represents the artistic side of the people who work there. There are some really cool tattoo machine and frame designs out there, and being able to customize your own equipment can help showcase your artistic personality.

The most famous tattoo artists aren’t just good because they can draw, but because they are true artists, right down to the tools they use to create their work.

  1. Pushing the envelope

Despite its rise within mainstream culture, with nearly 36% of American adults having at least one tattoo, the industry is still all about pushing boundaries. To stand out in the profession everything needs to come together, from your skills, to your attitude and the tools that you use. If you want to be the best, then sticking to the same old machines that get the same old results isn’t going to cut it. (2)

With custom tattoo machines, you can create and modify your tools to look great and do things a bit differently. Tattooing is a risky game, you never know if your client is going to be happy, but you can make moves by experimenting, showing your keen artistic eye, and playing around with classic machine mechanisms and new frames to produce tools that give the best results for you.

  1. Different results

Different machines and frames are going to produce different results, which will also depend on your artistic style, your methods, and what you’re intending to create. A custom machine gives you all the control over what you are creating, especially if you are putting it together yourself. You can have better control, speed, ensure precision and accuracy, and match the tool to your own tattooing methods.

There is always risk involved in tattooing. If you’re creating your own custom machine, make sure you are familiar with all the mechanisms and that you follow all safety procedures to ensure you aren’t doing wrong by your client.


Custom tattoo machines can help set you apart from other artists or studios that use more classic or traditional tools. It can help you nail down an awesome aesthetic to bring in customers while also allowing you the chance to experiment with different frames and configurations that suit the way you work. Tattooing is an art, and the machine you use is the tool of your craft, like a paint brush or a pen. A custom creation could make the practice more comfortable and produce better results too, leaving both tattoo artist and client very happy.