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If you are looking for a future career that’s creative, fun, and unique, tattooing might be your thing. But do you know how to become a tattoo artist?
There’s more to becoming a tattoo artist than a good sketcher or painter. You will need the right education, years of practice, and a passion for inking.
But no need to worry! With this guide, you will be able to discover all that you need to know and learn to make your dream job become a reality.
1. A Fun Guide: Tattooing 101
Everyone has their very own unique dreams of how they want to spend the rest of their lives. In the vast array of professions to choose from, most people veer towards safe and traditional choices like a doctor, engineer, or teacher.
Some choose to become something a little different – maybe a musician, painter, or actor. But as far as unique careers go, becoming a tattoo artist is undoubtedly a bold and extraordinary choice.
In case, you are here to learn how to become a tattoo artist, chances are that you already know who a tattoo artist is. But it is always better to start with the very basics and take the long road to success slowly and steadily.
A tattoo artist or a tattooist is someone whose job is to draw, paint, or ink tattoos on people’s bodies. Does this sound like your thing? If yes, you are certainly in the right place to pave the path to your dream job as a tattooist.
Becoming a tattoo artist involves more than knowing how to paint, sketch, or draw with skill. It takes years and years of hard work, proper educational qualifications, passion for the art, time, and experience. And this detailed yet simple guide will give you all the exciting and helpful info on the different steps that you will need to follow so that you can begin your dream job of becoming a tattoo artist.
1.1) Becoming an Artist
Before you learn about becoming a tattoo artist, first you will have to become a master at the art of sketching, drawing, and painting.
As has already been mentioned many times there is much more to a tattooist than just being a good artist. But the real journey starts there. Being a good and talented painter is not everything for becoming a tattoo artist, but it is undoubtedly the first step.
So if you want to know, pick up a pencil first and color your way to make your goal a reality. And like everything, becoming a good artist and later a skilled tattoo artist has some significant steps you cannot miss.
i) Practice Daily
You all know the saying “practice makes perfect,” and in the case of of becoming a tattoo artist, there is no exception. Even if you are super talented and drawing and painting come to you as quickly as breathing, practicing is necessary.
Even if you are already perfect, why not improve it? Practice is one thing that certainly does not mess with perception. So set a routine when you diligently practice for hours; that is the only correct way to start your lesson on becoming a tattoo artist.
If you feel like you have mastered the skills of drawing, sketching, and painting, try expanding your horizons.
Most likely you have a specific style that you study and follow. If that is the case, try to work on various contrasting techniques, experiment with colors, and push yourself to work on projects outside your comfort zone.
ii) Get a Proper Education
Quitting school to pursue an extraordinary dream sounds romantic and can be a good plot for a book or movie, but it is a terrible idea. Fast forward to a few years when you will miss the criteria for the perfect job due to the lack of a high school graduation, regret will be your only companion.
Maybe you have the raw talent and the passion for art, and maybe it is even enough for you to land a job after a few months of struggles. School might be tedious and painful for many but believe it or not, it does give you some insight into how the world works. Though formal education is not a requisite, a minimum education is always good for job prospects.
Primary education, including the tattooing industry, is necessary for any career field in today’s world.
iii) Get an Arts Degree
If you are into academics, don’t stop after school. A college or university degree goes a long way while looking for a job, no matter what kind.
And from your first lesson on becoming a tattoo artist, you already know the importance of art in this job. So getting a degree or, at the very least, a diploma in arts will help you start your career as a successful tattoo artist. Research carefully about colleges and universities that sound like what you are looking for.
There are countless prestigious and creative art schools and universities worldwide. Don’t be afraid to dream big – find your perfect school, learn everything you can, and no one will be able to stop you from filling the world with your art and colors.
1.2) Getting the Experience
While tattooing sounds like a fancy and unique career, it requires something as ordinary and mundane as experience. The more years of work and experience you have, the more likely you will get hired in a good tattoo parlor.
Taking some art classes is all good and well, but to know how to become a tattoo artist, you must also know how to get relevant and quality experience for the job. You can practice tattooing and drawing skills to help you build your career.
i) Work Under the Mentorship of An Experienced Tattoo Artist
Find someone working at an established tattoo shop and ask for guidance and mentorship. Observe how they operate in the work environment, interact with the customers, and handle the equipment. It can change aspiring artists to transform into skilled and professional tattooists.
ii) Get an Apprenticeship
Getting an apprenticeship is not easy, but it is worth all the hard work in the long run. Rarely an apprentice will give you any stipend. Instead, the complete opposite might be true – most likely, you will need to spend a considerable sum to work under a chosen mentor. Always carefully read the contract before signing it; it is best to hire a solicitor to protect your best interests.
Working with an established tattoo artist will teach and provide you with all the tips and tricks of the tattoo industry. You can try looking for such mentorship in your local tattoo shops.
iii) Learn How to Work in a Professional Environment
By working under a good mentor and completing a tattoo apprenticeship, you will learn about becoming a tattoo artist who knows how to work in a professional environment. It would be best if you remembered several things while achieving your goal of becoming a tattooist.
First, you will learn to design tattoos like an experienced and skilled artist. This lesson on becoming a tattoo artist is more than the creative part and art skills. Here, you will learn how to operate and handle tattoo machines, skin pens, ink, guns, and other equipment.
Another crucial thing to learn is maintaining hygiene at a tattoo place. Since tattooing is a kind of body transformation that penetrates the skin and can draw blood, there is a particular principle of hygiene that should be met for the safety of both the tattooist and the customer. You will understand how to build a clean and sterile workplace, the methods to maintain and clean the tattoo machine, when and how many times to change gloves, and much more.
Always remember that a good artist takes health and hygiene seriously to avoid undesirable hazards or infections.
A healthy environment will make your place happy – where employees and customers feel at peace.
Lastly, learning how to interact with clients and customers would be best. A happy customer is the best way to flourish business; thus, winning them over is necessary. Always be on your best behavior, understand their exact need and wants for a tattoo, and ensure their tattoo may heal without complication.
So by completing an apprenticeship, you will be well-equipped in three areas of tattoo artist jobs – proper health and hygienic practices, the right ways to handle the equipment, and the best manners to deal with clients and customers.
1.3) Selecting a Unique Art Style
What will make you different from the millions of other artists worldwide? That is the next question you must ask yourself in your course.
You must find a style that will define you, set you apart from all the other tattoo artists, and let you perform something magical on the canvas of human skin. There are a couple of things that you can try to figure out what kind of artist you are.
i) The Skills for Designing a Tattoo
Even though tattoos are art, not every kind of art can be considered a tattoo. You will have to understand who is competent in designing tattoos in such a way they appear beautiful on the body and stay the same for as long as possible without requiring any touch-ups.
The place on the body where the tattoo is, its size, shape, and colors, and how intricate it is all influence what it will look like after a period. Poorly placed tattoos with too many elements for the volume will heal poorly. This will result in the ink stretching out and parts becoming faint and indistinct. Checking the dye quality is also essential – Tattoo dyes of red, yellow, blue, and green can result in allergies like itching and rashes. Knowing a customer’s medical history is, therefore, helpful.
You will most likely cover this lesson on becoming a tattoo artist in the apprenticeship.
ii) Find Inspiration from the Works of Other Artists
Even though you need to pick a unique way to represent your art, studying the works of other artists is helpful. An ideal strategy to get a sense of the mastery of tattooing is to explore and examine the results of prominent and famous tattoo artists.
Look up some of the most notable artists with varied kinds of art techniques and find what they have been able to produce with just some colors and a tattoo gun. Find the style that speaks to you and what the business prospects are for the kind of tattoo you want to do.
Keith ‘Bang Bang’ McCurdy, Rob Kelly, Don Ed Hardy, Cally-Jo, and Ryan Ashley Malarkey are among the most skilled and famous tattoo artists. Study and explore their colorful and creative art; soon enough, you will find something that speaks to you.
But always remember – never copy the work of another artist. It is a crime that can mean complete and to your career. So find inspiration from others, but create different and unique tattoo designs that represent you.
iii) Learn All Kinds of Art Forms
If you love art but have not found the sort of art you genuinely want to do, check out and explore a ton of varied design styles before making a sure decision about your style.
Learn and try fine art, modern art, abstract art, and even stuff like graphics and logos.
Explore the works of famous artists and painters worldwide and get inspired by their colorful works.
Maybe it can be something like van Gogh’s vibrancy, Picasso’s cubes and Blue Period, or Monet’s brightness.
Self-expression is the root of such creativity; it will be the same for any artist.
iv) Choose Your Unique Style
So if you have explored all the styles, forms, and techniques, your course on becoming a tattoo artist is almost complete. Before approaching the final step of getting a license, job, or business, you must select a unique and new style.
With years of practice and studying all forms of art, you will undoubtedly find something that comes to you naturally, is unique, and feels like you.
You can be someone who specializes in inking quotes or words on someone. You must have neat and beautiful penmanship… or tattoo gunship. Or maybe you can be an artist distinguished for their use of vibrant colors – be it red, blue, or green – you can paint the body with the colors of the rainbow.
Some artists also specialize in inking stuff related to beloved fandoms. You can draw characters from books, movies, anime, or musical groups, and the fans will crowd at your shop’s door.
So as you can see, there are many ways to express your creativity and uniqueness. You will be a skilled tattooist if you are good at your work. But when you are good at something distinctive as well, that is when you become a memorable and gifted tattoo artist.
1.4) Become a Licensed Tattoo Artist
Congratulations, you have made it to the very last chapter on this guide. There are only a few steps left, and you are on your way to living your dream life by getting a tattoo artist license.
i) Find Out the State Requirements
License and authorization regulations frequently differ depending on your location – the country and the state.
For instance, professional tattoo artists in Oregon must finish at least three sixty hours of training with a certified tattoo artist, ink over fifty tattoos, and complete a written and practical inspection to get licensed.
On the other hand, in some other states, only tattoo shops require a license. So minutely study your region’s rules for licensure and the conditions for all other places you intend to tattoo in.
Similar to healthcare, you can have a license for tattooing in more than one state if you fulfill that state’s laws.
ii) Apply for the License
Once you have finished reading all the laws, regulations, and requirements and are confident that you meet every essential condition, you must apply for your licensure.
Most of the time, this is only a formality that consists of only a form fill-up with your regional branch and paying the requisite expense. However, this process also varies depending on the state and country.
1.5) Dream Bigger: Open Your Very Own Tattoo Studio
Since you know all about becoming a tattoo artist and getting employed at a decent tattoo shop, why not dream bigger?
You have the skills for inking and the passion for art; all you need is a place to call your own.
Start by learning the basics like rental room and space, furniture, and tattooing equipment.
Assess your competitors and target customers, and if necessary, you can even relocate to a neighborhood where you believe your style and artistry will be more loved and appreciated.
2. FAQs on the Topic
Still, have queries on how to make your dream of inking a reality? Read on to find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about becoming a tattoo artist.
2.1) How to become a tattoo artist?
Becoming a tattooist doesn’t come with a step-by-step manual. It takes years of hard work, practice, love and passion for art, proper education, and relevant experience.
You will not achieve any goals or dreams if you are looking for shortcuts. So if you pick up a pencil today and are determined to keep working hard for as long as it takes, only years later will you find yourself with a tattoo gun and ink and a proud owner of a tattoo license.
2.2) What are the educational qualifications for tattoo artists?
Technically speaking, formal education is not the first thing associated with tattooing. But graduating from school and having an arts degree certainly helps in becoming a good artist, a qualified and professional tattoo artist. Research the best art schools and earn a degree that will help you get employed in a reputable tattoo shop where you will get the experience of working in a realistic work environment.
Another thing that you can try after getting your degree or diploma is to apply for an apprenticeship under a skilled tattoo artist. While it may not pay, the experience and knowledge you will gain will certainly be rewarding and worth all the hard work. Making a comprehensive portfolio with the best results is another thing you should have while applying for your dream job.
2.3) How do you become a tattoo artist with your tattoo shop?
After getting the License, start looking for affordable and decent rental places, buy your equipment, and create a loyal customer base.
You can even use social media to share your art with the world, reach a greater audience, and get a more extensive client base. For aspiring tattoo artists, social media platforms can be an accurate guess.
Click Here: 21 Incredible Tattoo Ideas For Women
Endnotes: An Inspiration to Dream Big
So now that you have completed this class, what’s stopping you from chasing after your dreams?
Since this is not a traditional and secure career, you will find criticism every step of the way. But never let that discourage you because how else will there be an inspiration to dream big in this world?
Maybe you will not find support from everyone, but there will be those who will encourage you to fulfill your dreams. And with you, passion, hard work, and the motivation of some loved ones, achieving the goal is just within your grasp.
Being a tattoo artist is a unique and beautiful career for those looking for a creative and artistic way to live their life. With this guide on how to become a tattoo artist, you will be one step closer to achieving your amazing dream of making colorful memories for your clients and yourself.
An avid reader of all kinds of stories and fiction, Joshita has a Master’s in English Literature and has written on various fascinating topics across many sites. She wishes to travel all across the world and complete her long and exciting bucket list. Here, you can join her while she writes all about books, movies, traveling, health, fashion, and many other wonderful things to know, learn, and love.