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Business and Mindset: Are Tattooers Losing Control of Tattooing Carson Hill EP 270

Are Tattooers Losing Control of Tattooing? | Carson Hill | EP 270

Tattooing has obviously been through an incredible period of growth over the last couple of decades.  But at what cost? As large corporations and investment groups buy their way into our industry and gain influence, the tattooers, artists and innovators who contributed so much to this craft get swallowed up or drowned out.

In today's episode, we sit down with a true innovator from the tattoo community, Carson Hill, to discuss this topic.


This episode was made possible thanks to:

Interview by By Jake Meeks —

Writing By Daniel Pushcarich —

Topics:Manufacturing Tattoo Machines, Distributing Tattoo Equipment, Tattoo Machines, Business Mindset, Tattoo Business, Tattoo Shops, Amazon, Neuma 4, Neuma Macro, Neuma Modus


Neuma Tattoo Machines



“I’ve heard rumors that there’s companies that sell dog hair clippers, motorcycle parts, and tattoo machines…and there’s nothing wrong with that from a business standpoint…BUT, because we care about our industry so much, and we want to see it tailored to our needs or desires, then those are getting lost along the way”

— Carson Hill

Carson HIll (@tattooistcarsonhill)  Is the creator of Neuma Tattoo Machines. He understands the importance of having proper tools for each tattoo project, and believes that he has a duty as an artist and machine designer to make the best possible tattoo machines.

His mission as an artist is to improve and gain depth of experience and knowledge so that he is always improving technically and creatively.

Carson’s ultimate mission is to make the best possible tattooing equipment solutions. With Innovation, technology, and ground-breaking design, he has accomplished just what this industry needed with the Neuma FOUR.

Carson is based in CA and owns Neuma Tattoo Machines

Please enjoy!

Biomech leg and arm sleeves, by Carson Hill



  • Connect with Carson Hill:

IG | Neuma Tattoo Machines

Bio mech shoulder cap, by Carson Hill


  • [00:51] Enter Carson Hill, On The Corporatization of an Industry
  • [03:20] Industry Stagnation Effects to Tattoo Equipment
  • [08:24] A Stifle in Tattoo Machine Innovation
  • [10:30] Where are the Experts in these Companies?
  • [14:11] Without Passion for the Tattoo Industry Then Purpose is Lost
  • [17:54] Conventions
  • [20:05] What Can We Do About The Shift? But Some Tattooers ARE Still Innovating
  • [25:31] Tattoo Outsiders Looking In. Is it a good thing?
  • [28:04] Getting Tattooers to Pay Attention
  • [30:27] Underfunded and Over-Regulated, Health Department Crisis!
  • [34:15] Too Big to Provide Real Service to Tattooers
  • [40:59] Leveling the Industries "Paying Field"
  • [42:35] What's happening with Neuma?
  • [44:23] Outro


Too Big To Provide Real Service To Tattooers

[34:15] “Step one, Stop doing the thing that you think is feeding the beast, and then start to take steps in a new direction.Then It’ll force us into researching and having more information and knowledge about the industry.”

— Carson hill

Convenience is an incredibly valuable asset, particularly in the realm of tattooing. For many tattoo artists, having a local tattoo gear store just around the corner, fully equipped with a wide range of inks, cartridges, paper towels, glides, and antiseptics, is a luxury they might not have. The usual scenario would involve trekking across town, potentially coming up empty-handed except for MAYBE the paper towels. This is where platforms like Kingpin, Tatsoul, or even Amazon come to the rescue – everything you need, delivered right to your doorstep.

However, these platforms are essentially the equivalent of "big box" retail stores. No longer tattooer-owned, they seem to have lost that personal touch and connection with the tattooing community. Are they genuinely invested in the art and the practitioners? While they sell the products, do they truly understand what they're selling?

This is where tattooer-owned supply companies come into play. They offer more than just products; they bring an understanding rooted in the art's nuances. Unlike corporate retailers, these companies comprehend the why behind every product they offer. They aren't just providing physical supplies; they're invested in the essence of tattooing itself. Supporting tattooer-owned supply companies is a way to maintain authenticity in an industry where convenience often overshadows connection. By doing so, we actively contribute to nurturing the art's core, ensuring its integrity endures. 

full biomech lower leg sleeves by Carson Hill

Industry Stagnation Effects to Tattoo Equipment

[03:20] “That’s one of the big prices that we pay by allowing the industry to go in that direction is that innovation is lost. And you do have companies that have innovation to offer, but they’re overshadowed by these enormous companies that are basically branding agencies for other industries.”

— Carson hill

The issue of stagnant innovation in tattooing prompts us to ponder its roots. Whose responsibility is it, ultimately? Consider this for a moment. An artist establishes a successful brand and company, and another entity offers them a substantial sum to acquire it. Many would be enticed by such an offer, often without realizing that the acquiring company might not possess the same dedication or love for the industry. And really that tattooer just wants to live a less stressful life, so they take the paycheck.

But I’d like to dovetail on the last section a little bit. This is really a similar problem – the removal of the very tattooers and industry experts who bring a product to life. The larger companies claim to introduce innovations, but in reality, they often merely tinker with or minutely refine something that's been in existence for years. The result? No real progress is being made.

This scenario raises a crucial question: How can the industry foster genuine innovation while ensuring that the passion and expertise of those immersed in tattooing aren't compromised or diluted? By addressing this challenge, we can hope to infuse the field with fresh ideas, authentic improvements, and a continued commitment to pushing the boundaries of tattooing.

Underfunded and Over-Regulated, Health Department Crisis!

[30:27] “It’s not the guy that you’re talking to who is gonna make those changes. It ends up going further up the ladder to bureaucrats of some type who are gonna ultimately determine what are the protocols and the standards of this industry”

— Carson Hill

Taking the reins on regulation is a must. If we let things slide, we could find ourselves tangled in excessive bureaucracy, and that's not where we want to be. It's vital that we take an active interest in defining the standards and guidelines for our industry. If we don't, there's a real risk that government bodies could tighten the screws on the very progress we're eager to achieve.

This is where groups like the APT and those advocating for tattoo-run agencies come into play. They need our backing to push against legislation like MOCRA or REACH that could strangle our room for creativity. By lending our support, we're not just safeguarding the industry's future, but also safeguarding the freedom to innovate and flourish within it.

super cool neuma tattoo machine advertisement



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Transcript for this video can be found (here). All transcripts can be found (Here)

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The Fireside Tattoo Network is home to the Fireside podcast, Fireside Technique video series and our Fireside Weekly blog.

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Business and Mindset

Running a tattoo business requires a completely different skill set than putting tattoos into skin. As tattooers, we tend to put all of our emphasis on the technical aspects of tattooing. Unfortunately for shop owners and tattoo entrepreneurs, tattooing is only one small piece of the puzzle when it comes to the business of tattooing. 

Fireside is here to help:

  • Tricks for ordering supplies for your crew
  • Creating goals for your shop
  • Upholding tattoo shop values 

We also have plenty of Business and Mindset Deep Dive content to help you avoid the most common pitfalls of shop owners.

Check these pages out

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