Top Tattoo Innovations of 2021 | Painful Pleasures Community

Top Tattoo Innovations of 2021

Tattoo technology and innovations came a long way in 2021. Learn more about the best innovations this year, from wireless technology to better ink.
by Danny Tress Last Updated: June 1, 2022

2021 has been a wild year for tattoo technology and innovations. From upgrades in wireless tattooing to better inks for color packing and linework, this year is one for the books. 

We’ve seen 100% fire advancements in tattoo technology that not only change the way you work but have permanently impacted the industry. Here’s our recap of all the most exciting innovations and industry-shaking events that changed the game this year.


 If you’re wondering, “Has tattoo technology improved?” the answer is a resounding “YES.” Let’s start with some dope technology advancements that have made tattooing more efficient and versatile.

Don’t Let Glycerin Slow You Down

World Famous Blackout tattoo ink as an 8oz bottle

In the spring of 2021, World Famous introduced Blackout to your ink caps. Not only is Blackout the blackest ink World Famous has ever made, but it’s also got a revolutionary glycerin-free formula that is changing the game.  

What does that mean for you?  

Glycerin is a thick, dense substance that can slow an ink’s flow rate. Because it is glycerin-free, Blackout has a super-fast flow rate that makes packing in the black or pulling crisp single-pass lines easier than ever. Some say that its consistency is smooth like butter,  take it from TikTok star and versatile tattooer Jake Karamol. If you’re thinking about giving Blackout a try, check out how it compares to other black inks on the market.

Make Way for US-Patented Linear Technology 

Triton cartridge needles by Peak featuring US-patented tattoo technology

For years now, Peak has delivered quality tattooing results with their artist-favorite cartridges: Blood, Onyx, Quartz, and Cerus. This October, Peak introduced artists to their one-of-a-kind Triton cartridges. These push new boundaries with the first-ever tattoo cartridge needles to have US-patented linear technology.

This new tattoo technology is simple but effective. Each cartridge has a linear guiding mechanism that gives you ultimate control over your needles. That means you won’t experience any wobbling or shakiness, even when packing in color with your largest magnums. This patented tattoo innovation only improves upon Peak’s already high-bar standards for quality, including top-of-the-line inner membranes and durable stainless steel needles. These needles have quickly become a go-to favorite of many of our ProTeam artists.

Celebrate the Rise in Wireless Tattoo Technology 

Wireless tattoo technology improves with the LightningBolt Uni 

2020 gets credit for the wireless revolution (among other things…)

But 2021 continued to build on wireless technology, making it even more accessible for artists looking to give it a try. Most recently, FK Irons dropped the LightningBolt Uni battery pack. This godsend is uniquely designed to fit ANY of your favorite tattoo machines. So, haven’t given wireless tattooing a try? Simple snap the LightningBolt Uni onto your favorite RCA machine and turn it into a wireless powerhouse (with up to 10 hours of battery juice per charge). The LightningBolt Uni also has the tattoo innovations we all know and love, like Bluetooth-enabled controls and E-give capabilities when paired with the darklab app.

Necessity is the Mother of… Ink Innovations

This year saw an EU ban on two pigments crucial to tattooing: Blue 15:3 and Green 7. The EU announcement came as bleak news to tattooers all around the world… but there’s more hope. In response to the EU ban, the team at World Famous Tattoo Ink has been hard at work developing a solution. After 6 months of research and testing, World Famous is proud to announce their World Famous Limitless ink line. Launching Q4 of 2021, these new colors meet all new EU requirements and regulations.  And if you haven’t heard about the EU ban, here’s our article all about it, including a link to join the petition and take action.


But it wasn’t just new tattoo supplies that changed the game. New tattoo technology also happened in a cultural sense, changing (or starting to change) the industry as a whole.

Beyond the Sketch Book

For many years, Procreate has been a critical tool for tattoo artists. Now, Procreate is taking the idea of a 3D portfolio to new heights.

Procreate’s 5.2 version lets you push the boundaries with its all-new 3D modeling feature. This 3D feature lets you see your sketches come to life before even touching stencil paper. Plus, 3D modeling gives you total creative freedom when it comes to lighting, color, subject positioning, and exporting to a 2D format. Sharing your work is easy, too, so clients can see what you can do from all angles.

NFTs: A New Way to Sell Art

Tattoo technology evolves with the use of NFTs

Ok, you might be asking yourself: what the hell is an NFT and why should Tattoo artists care?

The answer is: non-fungible token. That means it’s a complete original token that’s 100% unique and original. Like your art. Or anything digital and one-of-a-kind. If you’re a versatile artist who likes to create digital art, this is a great outlet for you to share your work: fractal art, computer graphics, short videos, pixel art, and beyond are fair game for NFT trading.

And, yes, NFTs are a form of cryptocurrency that’s part of a blockchain called Ethereum. But before you roll your eyes or get too confused, know that these NFTs are working in your favor. They provide another avenue for artists to sell their original works outside of the tattoo shop and other traditional means.

Of course, the art can still be copied or reproduced… but only one person can own the original piece. This trend has gained a lot of momentum in the last year, and as it has gained in popularity, many folks are paying big money for that opportunity to own these original pieces. What is revolutionary about NFTs is that you, the artist, still get copyright and reproduction rights of your digital art. It’s a great way to expand your name, make some money, and grow your business as the world of art and tattooing becomes more digital. ProTeam artists like Megan Jean Morris, Javier Antunez, and Nick Baxter are hopping on this new trend.   

Squid Ink: Taking Tattooing To The High Seas

Tattooing comes to the high seas on Squid Ink

Virgin Voyages had a big idea in 2020: to launch the first-ever tattoo studio to be on a cruise ship. The studio is called Squid Ink, and this year it’s on the high seas. After a successful trial voyage, Squid Ink officially set sail in 2021 with big aspirations and exciting possibilities. Squid Ink challenges formerly high-brow cruise-line culture, encouraging guests and staff to let their hair down, roll up their sleeves, and celebrate body art.  

So for the first time ever, artists like you can pack your suitcases with your favorite rotary machines and tattoo while on a luxury cruise. To apply for your spot and learn more about this innovative opportunity, check out our blog on Squid Ink, including voyage dates.

Advancements in Inclusivity

A Pound of Flesh tattooable limbs in Fitzpatrick skin tones

A Pound of Flesh continues to pump out new practice skins for more authentic, life-like tattooing practice. Now, you can own APOF tattooable limbs and canvases in four Fitzpatrick skin tones (2-5). In the past, apprentices have practiced on orange rinds, grapefruits, or white synthetic skins to grow their skills. But neither fruit nor white-only skins give true-to-life practice for varied clients of all skin types and colors.

There’s still a long way to go for inclusivity, but now, apprentices and seasoned artists have more opportunities to learn the important art of tattooing a variety of skin types. Not only do these new APOF skin tones give you the opportunity to practice on a variety of skin tones, but they will help to diversify your 3D portfolio, so potential clients can envision how your work will look on them. 

In fact, A Pound of Flesh is one of the few sources you’ll find that offers more than just flat practice skins in multiple skin tones. The APOF 3-dimensional hands, arms, canvases, and micro-series shapes also come in Fitzpatrick skin tones for more versatile practice. That’s a great, inclusive start as we head into 2022! Learn more about the 4 new APOF skin tones here.


Eco-friendly tattoo technology including Fellowship Clean Caps

We all know the tattoo industry generates a ton of waste. But it’s getting better. In 2021, brands and manufacturers worldwide paid more attention to the problem, creating biodegradable, single-use medical supplies that are planet-friendly and safe to throw away.

Get Eco-Friendly with Fellowship and More

With tattoo innovations like Clean Caps and biodegradable razors, Fellowship is making small strides in replacing the countless plastic single-use items you count on in the tattoo shop. And don’t worry — this technology isn’t a step back in efficiency. Sure, Clean Caps are made of wood pulp, but they’re just as durable as your run-of-the-mill plastic ink caps. In fact, we tested them. Check out how they hold up in our time-lapse video.

And Fellowship isn’t the only manufacturer who’s producing eco-friendly materials for cleaner, greener tattooing. Check out our Earth Day feature on all the eco-friendly options available from top brands today. If you’re looking to go green in 2022, the time is ripe. 


The future of tattooing is brighter than a full-color back piece. Industry leaders like World Famous, FK Irons, Fellowship, and more only continue to deliver products that not only improve tattooing but help keep this industry going strong

We’re stoked for a future full of greener tattoo supplies, open-minded culture, creative thinking, and innovations that produce the best body art possible. We also look forward to seeing what you create in the new year. 

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