What are good markers for use on the skin?
November 30, 2012 11:01 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend any good tattoo markers, and/or other markers or pens that can be used on the skin (whether or not they are specifically for tattoos)?

I am trying to build a robotic device that will mark the skin for decorative purposes. Wondering if there exist any good tattoo markers or pens with nice features, such as:

- long lasting
- doesn't bleed too much from where you initially put it
- non toxic
- comes in colors
- variety of widths

Any ideas? I'd be especially curious to hear from anyone who has real life experience with this. Also interested in inks and DIY solutions if those are better than pre-packaged markers.

posted by kellybird to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My dad's a plastic surgeon. Growing up in emergency rooms, we always used to draw with markers like this while we were waiting for him to finish cases. I suspect that's pretty much what you want. Not so helpful on variety of colors, but they do what they're supposed to do.
posted by mykescipark at 11:36 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

What do you mean by long lasting? Like, to the end of an event? Or days? Because the two are going to require different media.

I used these graffiti markers in darker colours on skin for some art photography and they worked SO beautifully. (Send me a message if you want to see some photos of how the paint interacted with the skin on my model.) Being acrylic it's pretty inert on the skin, and it washes off cleanly, even with super dark, saturated colours (the white wasn't quite opaque enough though, so you may need to experiment with colours). These markers also come in bigger widths, like everything from chunky sharpie-sized, all the way up to 4 inches across or so. The only issue is they occasionally need a pump against a surface, but that could be part of the machine?

If you're looking for longer lasting you'll probably want an archival pigment ink of some kind. I know I've doodled on myself with Sakura Pigma markers and although it takes a little bit to dry (like maybe, 10-15 minutes?) it lasts for days, even through showers if you don't rub at it.

Feel free to memail me if you want to kick around ideas. Ink and paint on skin is my jam.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 1:06 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I used copic markers to draw a tattoo on myself for a costume party one year. (Ana Matronic costume, holla!) They worked really well for details, and lasted through the party and probably longer or required some serious scrubbing in the shower to get off.
posted by emkelley at 6:38 AM on December 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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