Setup Essentials for Color Tattooing with Ali Marie | Painful Pleasures Community

Setup Essentials for Color Tattooing with Ali Marie

There are a few tattoo supplies you need for successful color tattooing in any style. Artist Ali Marie takes you through her own setup!
by Danny Tress Last Updated: June 4, 2024

you love tattooing in color, embracing pop culture themes, and bringing cartoon icons to life, a world of exciting possibilities awaits you. However, colorful pop culture tattooing requires a dramatically different setup than styles like micro-tattooing or realism. To nail your color work, you need the right tools.

Meet Ali Marie

Phoenix tattoo by Ali Marie

Ali Marie, also known as Alina Mehalshick, tattoos at Obsidian Parlor 2 in downtown Emmaus, Pennsylvania. A multi-talented artist, she specializes in bright, colorful, and vibrant tattoos. Her Instagram portfolio is filled with pop culture icons like Kirby, Studio Ghibli characters, various Pokémon, and Disney favorites like Stitch. Ali ensures she has all the essential tools to tackle this wide range of pop culture iconography. Let’s dive into Ali Marie’s go-to tools for kick-ass color work.


Howl's Moving Castle tattoo by Ali Marie

Quality Tattoo Ink

Quality tattoo ink is crucial for any artist, especially if you’re a color tattooer. High-quality pigments that stand the test of time are essential so your tattoos can heal up as brightly as they went in. Consequently, Ali Marie’s setup includes a mix of vibrant, high-quality tattoo inks, such as:

This “hodge-podge” of pre-dispersed, vegan-friendly inks ensures the best results. But even if you’re a color tattooer, don’t forget about black! Ali Marie recommends Allegory Ultra Blak for her crispiest line work that contains her vibrant colors.

FK Irons Flux Max

The FK Irons Flux Max offers adjustable voltage, eGive, and stroke length options up to 4.0, giving you the versatility you need for all the demands of color tattooing: bold line work, smooth shading, whip shading, and beyond. Ali Marie loves this wireless machine for its cordless freedom… oh, and she prefers it in Bubblegum pink, being a lover of all things bright.

Saran Wrap and Dental Bibs

They’re not the sexiest supplies in your setup, but saran wrap and dental bibs are essential for a clean, organized workflow. And it goes without saying, the more color ink you’re using, the more likely you are to spill something and make a mess. Ali Marie uses these to keep her workspace tidy and efficient, minimizing the risk of spills.

Saferly Rinse Caps with Foam

For seamless dipping, rinsing, and drying of needles, especially when working with multiple colors, Ali Marie relies on Saferly Foam Ink Caps. “Thingies” she calls them, and they’re handy thingies indeed. Some artists opt to use a standard rinse cup, and Ali Marie will turn to a plastic shot glass for her less colorful pieces. But for tattoos the require plenty of dipping, rinsing, and drying (i.e. ANY tattoo with tons of color) you can count on Rinse Caps with Foam.

Washer Bottles and Bottle Bags

Washer bottles wrapped in bottle bags keep your distilled water and soap organized and at the ready. Be sure your bottles are labeled, too—labels help you identify your soap and water at a glance during the tattoo process. This can only help you out in the long run because you’ll be reaching for your soap and water a lot. Color tattoos generally require a lot of wiping during the tattoo process. Your preferred soap is up to you, but Ali Marie has a soft spot for Peppermint Dr. Bronner’s soap. She loves the smell, and the soothing peppermint keeps her clients’ skin less angry and more workable.

Barrier Film, Paper Towels, and Medical Tape

Every artist wraps their machine differently—a lot of what method you choose depends on what style of machine you’re using. If you’re working with a wireless, pen-style machine, Ali Marie’s method might just be perfect for you. All you’ll need is barrier film, paper towels, and medical tape. This ensures a safe, efficient workflow. Check out her machine-wrapping technique in the video (coming soon!)

Recovery Aftercare

Aftercare is critical, especially for large color tattoos that tend to cause more trauma than linework or soft black and gray pieces. Ali Marie counts on Recovery aftercare. She namely uses Recovery Derm Shield to protect her clients’ tattoos while allowing the skin to breathe. She prefers Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap to avoid reactions with Green Soap.

Build Your Setup for Color Tattooing

Eevee tattoo by Ali Marie

Equip yourself with these essentials for the best color tattooing results. Many staples, like barrier film, paper towels, dental bibs, and saran wrap, are necessities for any tattoo artist. If they’re not already part of your checklist, add them now. Stay inspired and stay vibrant!

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