At Ego, a UK Artist Rebuilds the Tattoo Machine to Save the Hand That Inks

Many professions with unique physical challenges come with corresponding ailments. For example, athletes suffer from ACL and hamstring injuries; astronauts deal with muscle atrophy and radiation exposure. Although it may be surprising, tattoo artistry also comes with its own health hazards.

“Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are common not only in tattooists but anybody holding something like a pen or pencil for prolonged periods of time,” says Richard Beston, a UK tattoo artist known professionally as Bez.

Richard ‘Bez’ Beston never expected to design tattoo machines, but he’s gone from self-learning Autodesk Fusion 360 to selling more than 3,000 products per year.

“When we draw or write, our grip uses more muscle power than we’re aware of, which causes strain to the body,” he says. “When we use a weighted, vibrating tattoo machine, the strain is amplified, so there’s more potential for health complications. Conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome are common in tattooists and can mean a short career.”

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