Tattoo Practice Skin

What is tattoo practice skin? These are small sheets of skin-like material, used by tattoo apprentices, or for self-taught (yikes!) attempts at becoming a tattooist, or even for those who are just thinking about trying out tattooing to see if they'll want to take the next step.

Sizes of these sheets range from smaller 6 x 8 inch sheets to larger 8 x 12 sheets. Thickness is around 2 millimeters, and you can tattoo on both sides of the sheet. Sheets of tattoo practice skin are made from synthetic materials; no, they don't go ripping skin off enemies and pickling and preserving it just for your learning pleasure. They make the stuff out of chemicals, carefully formulated to feel like real skin, and to react to a tattoo needle and ink like real skin does.

Note that they are specially crafted to approximate real skin's response to being tattooed on, they are formulated for tattooing in particular, not just to 'seem like skin'; so don't go grabbing a, ahem, 'play doll' or certain anatomically-correct body parts from your local 'adult shop' and think you can whang away on it with your tattoo gun. They don't make the flesh out of the same stuff and it will not react well to the tattoo needle or ink. You must understand I have never, er, actually had one of those dolls around or practiced tattooing on it, myself, ever, but I somehow just intuitively know they are made from a different material and it doesn't respond well to tattooing. Let's move on.

The practice skins that come packaged with tattoo starter kits are often inferior, made of cheaper material that smears or tears easily and does not well approximate human skin for practice. So even if you purchase a tattoo starter kit, it's advisable to also purchase better-quality, separate tattoo practice skin so that right in the beginning you are starting to learn with a quality material that approximates human skin. Some starter kits do come with better quality skin, so check the skin out first and if it seems too 'plasticy' or too soft or too brittle or too thin and just doesn't have the 'feel' of skin, etc., then order some better quality skin.

Tattoo practice skin can be plain, or can be ordered with simple tattoo designs already on them for you to practice tracing over. If your art skills are a little rusty this may be the way to start, until you bring your drawing up to a better level where you can draw your own tatt pics and transfer them to the practice skin. If you're buying plain practice skin, you can transfer original (or 'borrowed') art just the way you would to real skin: with a stencil, with transfer paper, or drawing directly on the skin with a marker.

Where do you buy them? Most tattoo supply shops will carry packages of tattoo practice skin. There aren't that many tattoo supply shops around, usually a good craft or hobby store will have a section on tattoo supplies. Occasionally you'll find a tattoo parlor that also sells equipment. You can also order them online (see our store). Since they are a serious piece of tattoo equipment, they are rarely found in novelty shops or 'head' shops like a lot of tattoo-related items are; they are not novelties or toys, but aids to learning the art of tattooing safely, and accurately approximating working on real skin.