Are you sitting at your desk at a soulless corporate job wishing you were somewhere else? Maybe you’re feeling underemployed with your creativity untapped, dreaming about how cool it would be to live the life of a tattoo artist? You know you’d be great at it, but are you ready to make the leap into the unknown from a job that bores you but keeps you financially secure?
Wherever you find yourself, have no fear, a career as a tattoo artist can be both financially stable and artistically empowering. You might not realize it, but it takes more than just creative talent to be a successful tattoo artist—you have to be a tattoo artist entrepreneur as well! Here are our five top tips to help you make your business as a tattoo artist turn into a life-long career.
If people don’t know you are a working tattooist, potential clients aren’t going to find you and get tattooed by you. Unless you are already instafamous, this means you will need to set up social media accounts for your tattoos and artwork. And you will need to work to grow your brand visibility without falling down the rabbit hole of endless scrolling.
Assign yourself 30 minutes a day to cultivate your account by liking, commenting, and following other accounts that have interests similar to your brand. And remember, your account is the mouthpiece for your brand, so keep it professional! Post images of your tattoos, drawings you are working on, and glimpses of you as a tattoo artist. Avoid irrelevant content, controversial subjects, and personal oversharing. Having a robust social media presence gives you a great way to engage with past and future clients.
It might seem boring to think about something as mundane as accounting and bookkeeping, but setting it up right from the start is the key to running a successful business. Every entrepreneur will tell you, freedom from a desk job quickly becomes old if you don’t pay attention to paying your bills or paying yourself.
You’ll also find that there are plenty of expenses to offset your income when you are working as a tattoo artist, ranging from art supplies to buying your tattoo machines. Keeping track of receipts and the hours you spend on drawing for clients is not exciting, so figuring out an easy way to do it is key. We recommend the cloud-based accounting app Freshbooks to our artists as it gives a robust set of tools for invoicing, saving receipts with no paper, and time tracking right from your phone.
As an artist, you are always looking to improve your technical skills and grow creatively. It’s the same thing now that you are a creative entrepreneur! Keep learning and looking for new ways of doing things, so that you can spend your time more efficiently and enjoy seeing your career progress without burning out from working too hard or chasing unprofitable clients. Be sure to ask for help when you need it from your community of fellow artistic entrepreneurs. Chances are, someone you know will have gone through the same thing.
To run a successful face-to-face business you need to be as good with people as you are with your tattoo machine. People from all walks of life will be coming to you, and paying to get your art permanently added to their skin. You won’t get many return clients if you are unpleasant to be around! Hone your communication skills every chance you get as this will help you with clients who know what tattoo they want, but don’t know how to describe it. Some clients will have unrealistic expectations of time or cost for a tattoo, and with the right attitude you can turn this ‘no’ into a regular client who recommends you to their friends.
As a tattoo artist entrepreneur, creating and nurturing your robust network is one of the most important things you can do to build your business. Your network will include friends, clients, inspirational resources, and other artist entrepreneurs. Remember that one of the most important questions you can ask your network is: “do you know anyone who needs the kind of work I do?”
Even in this digital age, face to face interactions can be an important way to build your professional and client network. Make sure you have business cards and hand them out, but don’t forget to ask for other people’s cards too and always follow up on that introduction. (We recommend PsPrint to our artists for good quality and inexpensive printing.) Networking isn’t a fast process and isn’t about instant results, so much like cultivating your online presence, regular interaction is important. Before long you will have a wide circle of people whom are happy to recommend you when someone they know is looking for a tattoo artist.
As an aspiring tattoo artist, you are poised on the brink of an exciting and lucrative new career! Honing your business skills and setting everything up correctly from day one can make a huge impact on your future. Remember these top tips and experience success as a tattoo artist entrepreneur:
And if all of this seems a bit overwhelming, don’t worry, Ink Different Tattoo School has been training artists like you for over eight years. You can have a tattoo apprenticeship with a straightforward curriculum and we will be there to mentor you from the day you start to long after you’ve joined our staff as a working tattoo artist. We’re invested in your success as a tattoo artist entrepreneur! Start a chat on our website to find out how to get started.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, Ink Different Tattoo School will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that we recommend these products and services because we believe they are useful to our community.