From needles to furniture, the Californian supply company Tat Soul prides itself on “providing the best equipment and supplies to tattoo artists all around the world”. Esteemed for their quality and innovation, the company are now looking to add to their reputation with the launch of their ‘Second Generation Wrath Vortex’, range of disposable tubes which they claim are, “the best in the industry!”
Article – Pippa Blenkinsop
Photography – Rich Luxton
With their redesigned magnum, diamond, and round tubes, Tat Soul promise the artist “better ink flow, better needle visibility, and better grip control”, but the question is – do they deliver? Nine Mag asked professional artists Meehow Kotarski and Phatt German to give them a test drive!
Having reviewed each component of the product using artist feedback, perhaps the most noticeable change the company has made to the tube is its new and improved shape grip. It is now angular rather than cylindrical and made of a “specially formulated gel-like material” for “maximum comfort and shock absorption”. We asked the guys what the ‘patent pending Vortex grip’ felt like to work with. “I never really use disposable grips because they’re so light and feel cheap and tacky but this was really good. I was surprised; you get a good firm grip, they sit nicely in your hand and they’re a lot more comfortable than other disposable grips” says Phatt German. Equally impressed with its weight and shape, Meehow adds, “if it [the grip] was straight it would probably slide, especially if you’ve got gloves and Vaseline on your hands. The rubber is nice and soft to hold and the fact that it’s textured too means additional grip.” The company also explains how their Vortex grips are, “custom moulded directly on the tube to prevent any ‘spinning’ during tattoo sessions.”
However, like Phatt, for many of you artists what matters are the tips. “The grip is good but I’m used to having good grips myself; the tips are the best feature.” says the artist. “They’re well made and push the ink in well because they are a really good shape; they fit the needles tight and nice.” Of course this is no accident. Tat Soul use precise injection moulding technology to give their tubes smooth contours which prevent snagging, maximises ink flow and gives consistent needle support. They also use specialised plastic to ensure a thin profile tip for closer contact and increased precision; a plastic which also doesn’t compromise on heat resistance or durability.
But it isn’t just the shape that Tat Soul has considered; the tubes are specifically designed to be transparent to give easy viewing of the ink in the reservoir; a feature which isn’t necessarily beneficial. “I love everything about the product,” says Meehow, “but for me the tips shouldn’t be see-through, especially the lining tips. It’s ok for a magnum but with the lining ones, when the tip sucks the black ink, the top of it gets black so you can’t see the end of it properly which is important for me especially with precision work.” However, this would appear to be just a matter of personal preference. “I look more at the tip of the needle when I tattoo, not the tip of the tube, so I don’t mind,” says Phatt German. “I’m used to working with tubes which are completely metal and you can’t see anything but the tip of the needle anyway” he adds.
So it seems the tubes were a hit with the boys but were the benefits enough to convert them from metal grips? “I would definitely [use the disposable grips] just because they’re more convenient at conventions; you always have it clean, you always have it ready,” says Phatt. “Even if I have 20 metal grips with me, say I do five tattoos each with five different needles, I’m going to run out of grips pretty quick so it’s better to have disposable ones and it’s more hygienic in that way as well.” The decision was unanimous, with Meehow adding, “I would use them, especially for white ink and highlights because the metal grips are not good for it, only disposable.”
So they’re more convenient and better for light colours but Phatt also likes disposables because they’re more reliable. “If you use the metal ones (I’ve used mine for a couple of years now) they get worn because the needle is in constant contact with the tip and then you get a little groove which stops the needle from pushing through; disposables give you a clean, fresh tip each time” the artist explains.
Perhaps the only downside from a buyers’ perspective is that at £1.20 a grip the cost can add up. “If I use five different needles in one tattoo that’s going to be like £6, so it’s quite expensive to use in the long run” admits Phatt German, “but you get what you pay for, it’s definitely worth it.”