We all know that getting a brand new beautiful tattoo is amazing! But did you know that the experience of giving someone a great tattoo can be even better? If you love art and you’re a fan of tattoos, a career as a professional tattoo artist is artistically satisfying and financially empowering. If you want to become a good tattoo artist, the internet is overwhelming when you’re looking for advice on how to get started, and we know you have questions. How can I learn to tattoo? Will I like being an apprentice? How do I find a tattoo apprenticeship? Will a career as a tattoo artist really work for me? That’s why we’ve pulled together our top 5 pieces of advice for aspiring tattoo artists.
The most important piece of advice for aspiring tattoo artists is to not tattoo on your own! Whatever you do, don’t buy a (hazardous) tattoo kit online and just start inking up your friends. Not only will you endanger yourself and your friends (bloodborne pathogens are bad news), but those kits aren’t even meant for human use! Even if you manage to get your hands on professional equipment, which is usually only sold to professional artists or their tattoo apprentice, the skills and techniques necessary to keep yourself safe and create a quality tattoos can’t be learned from an online video. In-person, hands-on training with experienced professionals is required to learn to tattoo safely and effectively. Remember, each state has different tattooing licensing laws and if you want a real career as a tattoo artist, you don’t want to start out in violation of local health and safety regulations. Don’t endanger yourself or your friends by tattooing without being licensed or having proper instruction. You want to avoid having your first tattoo look like a disaster that you’ll regret forever.
Now that you’re looking into learning to tattoo from a professional apprenticeship or training program, you’re probably getting overwhelmed with all the options of where and how you can learn to tattoo. While some tattoo artist training seems expensive, other options might seem too good to be true. Some options have online components, while others are strictly in-person. Plus it’s probably unclear about whether any of these options will work for you, especially if you don’t want to quit your job to start your training.
Regardless of which resource you’re looking at, they all require a commitment on your part and that can be scary. We’ve been there, and the best advice for aspiring tattoo artists at this point is to just dive in. Meet the people who will be training you, show them your art, look at their art and tattoos, and ask as many questions as you can. Try to find out as much as you can about what it will be like to be their apprentice. Make sure it’s a good fit! The only way to be certain that a future as a professional tattoo artist is right for you is to get into a tattoo studio and find out for yourself. Just try not to procrastinate and you’ll be taking your first steps toward an amazing new career!
The next most important piece of advice for aspiring tattoo artists is to avoid training programs that are just out there to take advantage of you. So many “apprenticeships” pretend that the art of tattooing can be taught to you in a few days or weeks. That’s simply not true. It is just not possible to quickly develop the coordination and motor skills you need for tattooing, no matter how experienced an artist you are in other mediums—tattooing on skin is a very different process. The nuances and techniques required to create professional quality tattoos take much longer to learn. We always recommend looking for tattoo training that isn’t obviously too good to be true and allows a reasonable amount of time to teach you everything you need to know! And remember, from your time as an apprentice through your career as a tattoo artist, you’ll never stop learning and developing.
For decades, the traditional path toward becoming a professional tattoo artist is to find a local tattoo shop, get tattooed there repeatedly, then show up with a portfolio of tattoo flash paintings and ask for an apprenticeship. This usually led to a years-long process of sitting at the front desk, mopping the floors, and eventually learning the art of tattooing. This is a time-honored way of learning to tattoo, and we absolutely recommend trying to get a traditional tattoo apprenticeship. That said, if you receive rejections or learn that you’ll just be buried in busywork, then we encourage you to check out our tattoo apprenticeship. Not only do we never waste your time with busywork, we have a curriculum that can work through at your own pace to learn everything you’ll need to become a successful tattoo artist. The good news is that our tattoo apprenticeships are based on the traditional model updated to meet the needs of a digital age. You can start online in a live virtual classroom in the early phases of your apprenticeship and will work one-on-one with a dedicated trainer. Once you pass the requirements of the virtual training, you’ll be ready to complete your apprenticeship in one of our physical locations. When you are in the studio, you’ll be trained to implement impeccable tattoos on clients. You will learn how to keep yourself and your clients safe with disinfecting and sanitizing practices to prevent cross-contamination. And through this process, you will get real work experience and professional development so you are ready to launch your career as a tattoo artist. And the best part? We hire every artist that completes their training with us! Once you finish your apprenticeship with Body Art & Soul Tattoos, we’ll have a job offer ready and waiting for you so you can work in our studio!
Whether you find a traditional apprenticeship or learn the art of tattooing with us, the final piece of advice for aspiring tattoo artists is to never give up! Tattooing is a complicated but rewarding art form, and persistence and patience are key to success. We take the time to ensure that our artists are well-prepared for the first time that they apply a needle to their client’s skin. From lining and shading tattooing techniques to studio safety, we have you covered. Remember, it takes time to develop your skills. From the early stages of your tattoo apprenticeship and through your career as a professional tattoo artist, a focus and dedication to your craft is required to make sure that you’re doing your best work and avoiding mistakes. So keep your head up and press forward, knowing that you’re bringing beautiful art into this world and helping your clients to express themselves!
We hope this advice for aspiring tattoo artists helps you as you take the journey to becoming a professional tattoo artist! While this career isn’t easy, it’s tremendously rewarding and we love to help artists achieve their dreams! If you have any questions about your future as a tattoo artist, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!