It’s 2019 and whether you want to accept it or not, smart devices like iPads, iPhones, and more have become a huge asset to tattoo artists. The apps available to tattooers make it easy to see why.
New tech adopters, current users, and artists who want to step up their resources or social media game this year can benefit from this list of our top 10 favorite apps for tattooers, plus the one app all tattooers need.
SOCIAL MEDIA APPS
1. CANVA (Free)
This app is crazy easy-to-use and completely FREE. It is constantly updated with new, sleek, professional looking layouts and templates for literally all types of digital content — Instagram stories and posts, YouTube videos, Facebook banners, collages, posters, ads... the list goes on and on. Plus, this app offers plenty of stock photos and has a HUGE font library. This is one app you absolutely NEED for stepping up your social media game.
2. SALT (Android Only)
SALT is the absolute best when it comes to quickly watermarking your images. Simply upload your PNG file watermark. Then, it’s as simple as opening the photo you want to watermark in the app and hitting save.
The only issue I have with SALT is that it’s not available on iOS. Consequently, this is one of the main apps that will keep me loyal to Android for many years to come.
SALT is free for the first few weeks; then, to continue using the app, you can buy credits or watch ads to earn credits. While this may sound like a downside, it’s so freaking cheap that you really can’t argue or complain. I bought credits one time and have been using those same credits for the past year.
If you’re loyal to your iOS device, the best substitute for this app is Watermark PRO (more on this app later in the blog). This app is pricier, so I’d recommend saving the money and just using Procreate.
3. Facebook Ads & Pages Manager (Free to download)
I use Facebook for targeted, easy-to-use, and cost-effective ads. With Facebook, you get double the exposure when you create the ad and you can also target clients on Instagram. You can spend as little as $1 per day and target your audience right down to their age, gender, location and shopping habits online.
4. Preview (Free/Monthly)
This is my go-to app for insight on my followers and researching my target demographic,engagement,and overall Instagram statistics. A free membership with this app is for one user and offers basic analytics. A pro membership with this app is $7.99 a month and offers full analytics including hashtags and reposting. A premium membership is for unlimited users. I personally recommend the $7.99/month membership option for individual tattooers.
The full analytics include the best days and times to post; what content is getting the best engagement including stories, videos, and carousel posts; and information about which hashtags are getting you the best results.
Another bonus feature of this app is its ability to schedule posts and to curate your feed; it plans what your feed will look like ahead of time. I never use this feature, but it could be beneficial for other artists.
5. CamScanner (Free)
I use this app almost daily. It’s amazing for taking paper illustrations or notes and turning them into high-quality PDF or JPG files that can then be opened and edited in other apps. It also works amazingly at conventions, negating the need to play the fun game known as “find a scanner.” Likewise, you won’t need to wait till your next birthday and obtain a Master’s degree in Computer Science only to discover that the scanner you’re using is total shit, you can’t get the file onto your device anyway, and you’ve just wasted precious daylight trying.
This app is a tattoo artist’s dream if they actually use it to full advantage. The app allows you to create notes that sync between all your devices. You can create notes from your consultations including photographs and scans; links to webpages and social media accounts; and more options to ensure you don’t forget any key details about your client’s piece. These crazy detailed notes are super handy for an artist on the road or who handles their own bookings.
7. Schedulista (Monthly)
This app and web service is my favourite scheduling app for tattooers. It’s incredibly streamlined, fast-performing, and easy to set up and use daily. You can conveniently book appointments through iCalendar, Google Calendar, or through the app itself; add clients and automatically send reminders through email, text, or both; and then send follow-up emails or texts after appointments. This app also permits online booking and capturing credit cards to charge no-shows. It even syncs with Square and other payment processing services, showing you each client’s history.
DESIGN & EDITING
8. Amaziograph ($1.39)
While this app is super-specific to the geometric/ornamental and neo-traditional styles, the ability to create intricate mandalas and other symmetrical designs super quickly is extremely valuable and also weirdly enjoyable. I find myself playing with this app when I’m stressed, solely because it’s mesmerizing to watch.
9. Snapseed (Free)
This photo editing app is amazing for quick photo edits. You can quickly clean up poor-quality reference photos with features that allow you to change contrast, sharpen the image, or remove redness and spots instantly and super easily. This app is also fantastic for Instagram photos and general selfie-taking (in case you’re into that). After finishing a tattoo, use this app to quickly edit your images by blurring the background, reducing redness, and removing unsightly skin blemishes to make your tattoo the focal point.
10. Lightroom (Free) or VSCO (Monthly)
Lightroom, the original filter app, is a photography staple. Change the tones, colours, and mood of your images with presets or custom design your own presets to help take your reference images from boring stock photos to dynamic, moody photographs. After editing your reference photos, they are ready to be printed and turned into a stencil.
VSCO is a paid variant of Lightroom. It is designed to be faster than Lightroom and offers more vintage presets. I personally prefer Lightroom for photography and VSCO for selfies, but you may have a different preference.
THE ULTIMATE, NUMBER ONE MUST-HAVE APP FOR YOUR iPAD PRO
Paint Storm Pro ($17.99) and/or Procreate ($13.99)
I first heard of/saw the Paint Storm Pro app thanks to one of my all-time favourite tattooers, Chris Rigoni (@chrisrigonitattooer). Chris Rigoni uses the app to create his insanely unique tattoo designs. This app is definitely created for painting on the iPad and is very similar to software used for a desktop computer. The free version is limited, but the paid version is $17.99.
I personally prefer Procreate. Procreate is more intuitive for the iPad medium. This app offers features like hold options to create straight lines and layers, a double tap option to erase your previous action, and much more. Artists should note that Procreate does come with a long learning curve, because it is so powerful and in-depth. This app also allows you to import PSD files and add PNG watermarks to your photography. Procreate does not have a free version, but if you don’t buy anything else on this list, the $13.99 price tag on this app is well worth the investment.
If you haven’t already picked up an iPad Pro, now is the perfect time. You can pick up older generation iPads for a couple hundred dollars, especially around the releases of new generation devices. You definitely don’t need the newest model or even the largest version of the iPad Pro. The ability to zoom in will allow you to maximize your experience no matter the model. However, if you are purchasing an iPad to use for tattooing, it must be a PRO; the standard editions do not support the same apps, experience, speed, or graphics.
Make sure to pick up an iPad Pencil as well — the iPad without the pencil is nowhere near as intuitive and powerful!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.
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Edited by PainfulPleasures Content Dept: Meeseun Kwoun & Danny Tress