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How to Become a Tattoo Artist

Rohini Mohan
Have tattoos always fascinated you? Do you have folders filled with your designs? Then find out how to become a tattoo artist and turn your passion into a full-fledged career, with these simple tips.

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Nobody can stop you if you've made up your mind about becoming a tattoo artist. That being said, bear in mind that this profession is extremely tasking.
The amount of practice and hard work required to perfect this skill, will make you feel like you're in a boot camp! So if you're ready to face the challenge, then this is the right profession for you. It's important to know and respect the ancient and sacred culture of tattooing.
Tattoos existed before people began to write, and have thus, been an important and integral part of many great civilizations. Depending on your preference, you can seek inspiration from tattoos belonging to the Aztec, Mayan, Celtic, Japanese, Tahiti, Indian, Australian Aborigines, and Maori culture.

Requisites for Becoming a Tattoo Artist


There are no college courses that teach the art of making tattoos. What you do need, is the innate talent for sketching and painting. You can sharpen your talent further by studying the technique of other tattoo artists and practicing on artificial tattooing skin that can be purchased online or from specialty stores.
Talking to local tattoo artists, getting yourself tattooed, observing how it is done, and even taking specialized art classes, can help you gain a deeper understanding of this profession. You should prepare a portfolio which should ideally include all your tattoo designs, sketches, and paintings.
To a seasoned tattooist, your portfolio will reflect your style of artwork, level of talent, and potential. Therefore, try to make your portfolio as impressive and original as possible.
What you need most of all, is a good apprenticeship under a professional tattooist who has a work experience of 6-10 years or more. Choose an artist who will help you develop your skills and give you plenty of opportunities to learn on the job.
Apprenticeships are usually no longer free these days and have become very expensive. Therefore, be prepared to spend anywhere between USD 4000-5000. Some of you may need to start saving up, because trainees often do not get paid during apprenticeship.

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It would do you well to research and be aware about skin and blood pathogens. Your initial training will include, how to protect yourself and your clients by maintaining hygiene before, during, and after the tattooing procedure.
Also, to know how to trace designs accurately, choose the right color combination, lessons on how to hold the tattoo machine and make a tattoo properly, tips on tattoo care, how to sterilize and clean the machine and its parts.
Furthermore, ways to operate the equipment while controlling the power supply, analyzing the depth the needle should maintain while tattooing the skin, and understanding the various types and textures of skin.
Throughout your training, you will be expected to grow and improve, which means that there should be a drastic change in your drawing technique, tracing capabilities, thought process, and ideas. You should constantly try making tattoos with new styles on artificial skin, seek advice from fellow artists, ask your doubts, and discuss innovative concepts and designs.
Your teacher will let you know when you are ready to set out on your own as a tattoo artist. Only well-trained tattoo artists have the confidence to start off their own tattoo shops. The average annual tattoo artist salary can range between USD 32,000-80,000, and may increase exponentially depending on your quality of work and popularity.

Job Description

  • One important tip is to grow your interpersonal skills with your clients. In order to be successful, you must treat your employer, clients, coworkers, and other trainees with respect.
  • You should keep yourself updated about ever-changing tattoo designs and lettering.
  • Being aware of the new models of tattoo machines and how to upgrade your tools, can come in handy in later years.
  • Try to keep experimenting and drawing newer designs that are radically different from your older artwork.
  • Get to know your clients better, request them to describe the tattoo they wish to have in greater detail, and what it signifies to them.
  • Make a rough sketch of your client's tattoo and get it approved by them, also try to give them a design that will definitely satisfy and please them.
  • Make your client feel welcome and comfortable, so that their nervousness may reduce.
Tattoos and piercings are amazing forms of self-expression. To create your own niche in the competitive world of tattooing, you have to stay true to yourself and your work. Once you accomplish that, creativity and originality will follow naturally.