Things certainly have taken a broad leap forward. It used to be that tattoos were vexed, a mark of sin placed on rugged outlaws, profanity-ridden sailors, and jailhouse dogs. Now though, it is hard to find someone who doesn't have at least one tattoo. These permanent forms of self-expression are widely sought after by people of all walks of life, the young and old alike. However, tattoos are a choice, and they end up on the skin somehow. The safest and, obviously, the most contemporary tattoo application technique is notably the tattoo gun. However, the tattoo gun, while widely used, is not the only tool utilized to lay ink into the skin.
Tattoos have been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Although, you can imagine that the extremely sharp, sterilized tattoo needles were not in existence then. Instead, if someone wanted a tattoo, he or she had to undergo a more crude and primitive process. Typically, the first tattoos were applied meticulously with anything that could be fashioned into a point. This could range anywhere from a simple stick sharpened to a point, to bits of turtle shell, to the bone of an animal taken for food. While these methods were not as sanitary as the modern methods utilized today, tattoos performed this way was a rite of passage, an entryway to manhood for some cultures. Still today, some tribes and cultures still practice primitive, often painstaking methods of tattooing.
The "jailhouse" tattoo has been and still is a prevalent method of tattooing for, not only incarcerated persons, but for younger kids not yet old enough to acquire a tattoo legally. A jailhouse tattoo, essentially, is just a homemade tattoo. This method originated in prisons and penitentiaries around the world due to the demand by inmates for tattoos, coupled with the lack of proper equipment. Just as with primitive tattoos, jailhouse tattooing methods were similar in regards to the diversity of the tools used. Common tools used in conjunction with this method are guitar strings, nails, sewing needles, electric toothbrushes, pens, and batteries.
Now, the most recent method of obtaining a tattoo, the tattoo gun. While there are several different types of tattoo guns, they all follow the same general concept. The "Shader" and "Liner" style guns are the two most popular types of guns among tattoo artist and advocates alike. Just like its name suggests, the liner-style gun is used to create the outline of the tattoo, the first initial "lines." Once a healthy foundation is laid, the shader-style gun is used to "shade" the tattoo according to the desires of the person receiving the tattoo. Skilled artists are now able to add realistic texture, depth, and even three-dimensional effect with a combination of lines and shading.
Unless you are an actively participating member of certain cultures, the tattoo gun is going to be the method used to apply tattoos. Primitive and jailhouse tattooing methods are notably more painful than the convenient gun method. Not to mention, autoclaved, sterile equipment are much safer too.