Upon entering Rare Breed Tattoos and Body Piercing, you can hear the buzz of needles coming from the next room.  Vivid pictures line the walls, retired skateboards are propped up on display, and bright, simple jewelry sits in a glass case.

                This may not seem like an environment and an industry that breeds and uses technological advancements, but then, appearances can be deceiving.

In the display case are about a dozen bracelets, crafted from nothing more than old pop tabs and a bright lanyard lashing them together.  The old and new materials have been combined to make something greater than the sum of their parts.

This seems to be the case with the tattoo industry in Alamance County.  Ever changing technology is used in conjunction with the tools that artists know and rely on to get the perfect tools for the perfect tattoo.

According to Jake Edwards, a tattoo artist at Rare Breed, nine out of 10 tattoo guns that come into the shop are rebuilt once they get there to match the tastes and style of the artists who use them.

                Of different kinds of tattoo guns and advancements in technology, Edwards said “It just all depends on what you want to do with your art.”

                At Inferno Ink, the story is not so different.  In recent years, there have been clear advancements in technology in the industry, such as the pneumatic tattoo gun. 

                Unlike a traditional tattoo gun which runs off of electricity, a pneumatic gun is connected to an air compressor and the needle is moved by the air.   This causes the machine to be lighter weight and not prone to small surges of electricity.

                Kenneth Shane Wilson of Inferno Ink, who has been tattooing for almost 15 years, says he prefers to stick with traditional electric guns.

                “They’re my favorite,” he said.  It is not only the guns that change and advance in the world of tattoos and piercings.  The products that sterilize the store and its equipment also change rapidly.

                According to Doug York, an artist at Inferno Ink, advances in cleaning products occur every three or four years. Inferno Ink keeps up to date on all of its cleaning products.  Having a clean and healthy environment is a very important element of Inferno Ink’s business.

Heather McDaniel works at the front desk of Inferno Ink and is currently training with the head piercer. She says keeping up to date with sanitary advancements is a major focus of the shop.

                “We try to be as close as possible to a hospital.”

                New technology not only effects the artists at a shop like this, but the customers as well. 

                York says that up to 90 percent of their customers come into their shop with the tattoo idea or design that they have gotten off of the internet.  It is far rarer to see customers coming in with unique, hand-drawn ideas these days.

                Once a tattoo artist has a basic idea or is asked to design something, he will frequently draw it not on paper, but on a computer screen. 

                Tattoo shops in the Alamance region have plenty of advancements to choose from these days.  Some use more than others and some stick to what they know.  Most frequently, shops are creating their own blend of the old and new to change the face of this industry.