Is becoming a tattoo artist right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do tattoo artists do?
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What are tattoo artists like?

Still unsure if becoming a tattoo artist is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a tattoo artist or another similar career!

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How to become a Tattoo Artist

Becoming a tattoo artist in the requires a combination of artistic talent, dedication, and a commitment to learning and practicing the craft. While there is no specific educational path or formal certification required, here are the general steps to becoming a tattoo artist:

  • Develop Artistic Skills: Start by honing your artistic skills. Take art classes or pursue a formal education in fine arts, illustration, or a related field. Practice drawing, painting, and experimenting with different art mediums to develop your artistic style and technique.
  • Research Tattooing: Familiarize yourself with the tattoo industry. Learn about different tattoo styles, techniques, and the history of tattooing. Read books, watch documentaries, and study the work of established tattoo artists to gain inspiration and knowledge.
  • Build a Portfolio: Assemble a portfolio of your artwork that showcases your skills and artistic range. Include drawings, paintings, sketches, and any other relevant artwork that demonstrates your ability to create visually appealing designs.
  • Seek an Apprenticeship: Tattoo apprenticeships are a traditional and essential way to learn the craft from experienced tattoo artists. Research local tattoo studios and artists known for their high-quality work. Approach them with your portfolio and express your interest in apprenticing under them. Keep in mind that securing an apprenticeship can be competitive, so be prepared to demonstrate your dedication, passion, and willingness to learn.
  • Complete an Apprenticeship: If you are accepted as an apprentice, be prepared for a rigorous and hands-on learning experience. Your mentor will teach you the fundamentals of tattooing, including sterilization procedures, proper equipment usage, design creation, and tattoo application techniques. You will gradually progress from observing to assisting, and eventually, to tattooing under their supervision.
  • Health and Safety Training: During your apprenticeship, you will also learn about health and safety practices specific to tattooing. This includes maintaining a clean working environment, proper sterilization of equipment, handling and disposing of biohazardous materials, and following local health regulations.
  • Obtain Bloodborne Pathogens Certification: In many states, tattoo artists are required to obtain a Bloodborne Pathogens certification, which demonstrates knowledge of safe practices to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. You can typically obtain this certification through online courses or training programs approved by your local health department.
  • State and Local Licensing: Check the specific licensing requirements in your state and locality. Some states require tattoo artists to obtain a license or permit to practice. Contact your local health department or licensing agency for information on the necessary steps, fees, and any additional requirements such as examinations or inspections.
  • Continual Learning and Improvement: Tattooing is a lifelong learning process. Stay up to date with industry trends, attend workshops, seminars, and conventions, and seek opportunities to expand your skills and knowledge. Practice regularly to refine your technique and develop your own unique style.

Helpful Resources
There are several helpful resources available for tattoo artists. These resources provide educational materials, industry insights, networking opportunities, and support for professional growth.

  • Professional Tattoo Organizations: Professional tattoo organizations like the Alliance of Professional Tattooists (APT) and the National Tattoo Association (NTA) offer valuable resources for tattoo artists. The APT is a non-profit organization that provides education, support, and resources to professional tattoo artists. The NTA promotes the artistry and professionalism of tattooing through educational materials and annual tattoo conventions.
  • Tattoo Publications and Magazines: Tattoo magazines such as Tattoo Magazine, Skin Deep Magazine, and International Tattoo Art Magazine offer a wealth of industry insights, artist profiles, and tattoo inspiration. These publications provide a platform for artists to showcase their work and stay updated on the latest trends and developments in the tattooing world.
  • Tattoo Conventions and Events: Attending tattoo conventions and events can be highly beneficial for tattoo artists. Events like the Hell City Tattoo Festival, the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival, and the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention provide opportunities to network with fellow artists, learn from industry experts through seminars and workshops, and gain exposure for your work.
  • Online Communities and Forums: Online communities and forums are great platforms for tattoo artists to connect, share knowledge, and engage in discussions. The Last Sparrow Tattoo Forum is a popular online community where tattoo artists and enthusiasts can exchange ideas, seek advice, and discuss various aspects of tattooing. The Reddit r/tattoos subreddit is another vibrant online community dedicated to tattoos, where artists and enthusiasts share their work and participate in conversations.
  • Online Learning Platforms: Online learning platforms like Tattoo Education and Udemy offer courses and instructional materials for tattoo artists. Tattoo Education provides instructional videos, tutorials, and courses taught by experienced tattoo artists, covering a wide range of topics such as technique, design, and business management. Udemy offers tattoo-related courses on subjects like tattoo design, equipment usage, and client management.
  • Tattoo Supply Companies: Reputable tattoo supply companies can serve as valuable resources for tattoo artists. Companies like Eternal Ink, Cheyenne Professional Tattoo Equipment, and Bishop Rotary not only offer high-quality tattoo supplies but also provide educational resources, product information, and support for tattoo artists. They often have informative websites and customer service teams to assist artists in selecting the right tools and equipment for their needs.
  • Social Media: Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are widely used by tattoo artists to showcase their work, connect with other artists, and gain exposure. Following tattoo artists and industry influencers on these platforms can provide inspiration, allow you to stay updated on industry trends, and create networking opportunities.