So, you’re interested in becoming a tattoo artist? Maybe you know where to start and maybe you don’t but either way, we’d like to go over the bare essentials of becoming a successful (and reputable) tattoo artist. Before we begin though, trust us when we say this. There’s a lot more to it than purchasing a cheap tattoo gun, a few bottles of ink, and practicing on your friends. In fact, we highly advise against going that route. In the very beginning, you won’t even need a tattoo gun, ink, and especially friends to practice on.
Are you ready to find out what you should be doing if you plan on becoming a tattoo artist? If so, go ahead and scroll down the page. Everything you need to know is waiting!
Learn To Draw (Or Trace)
Notice how we said that you need to learn how to draw or trace? Well, what we really meant to say was that you should learn at least one of the two but learning both would be more beneficial. So, what are we saying? You don’t need to know how to draw in order to become a tattoo artist? That’s exactly what we are saying! There are many good tattoo artists in the world that couldn’t draw to save their life. If you work at a good tattoo shop, you’ll probably be surrounded by at least a couple of people that can draw anything they want to. Sure, you may have to ask them to draw for you from time to time but as long as you can draw a straight line and do stencils, you still have a shot at being a tattoo artist.
Become An Apprentice
The second thing that we recommend doing is seeking apprenticeship. This may be a tough task to accomplish but if you stick with it and put your mind to it, it can be done. A good place to start is to look around your area for tattoo shops. Approach them one by one and let them know that you’re interested in doing an apprenticeship. By this point, you should have somewhat of a portfolio built up that you can take in that shows not only your drawings and stencils but your work history, the kind of person you are, and so on. Be prepared to get rejected a few times and even more, be prepared to work for free. If all else fails, try to find an apprenticeship as a piercer which will help get you in the door.
Study and Practice
If you’re serious about becoming a tattoo artist, you should treat it just like you would anything else such as school, work, and your social life. Be prepared to study the trade, practice, and learn everything that you can. If you have the money, you can invest in a cheap tattoo gun to practice on and you can even buy fake skin to practice on. However, it is slightly expensive and with a quick search, you can find alternatives to use over fake skin. Either way, it’s best not to practice on people as you won’t be able to make changes or fix any mistakes that you will inevitably make. As far as the studying goes, there are thousands of good books out there to learn from as well the Internet (endless source).
Learn How The Human Body Works
This includes everything from pathogens to learning CPR. In some areas (most), you’ll be required to be CPR certified and anything related to studying human anatomy will most definitely help you in your quest to become a tattoo artist. Again, the best thing to do is get in touch with a local, established artist and see what they recommend. You may also need to check with the city council to see what requirements they have for people that are wanting to open a tattoo shop. Why? Because that should be your ultimate goal. Work for yourself, own your own shop, become well established, and follow all of the rules!
Perform Your First Tattoo
Once you’ve done all of this, it will be time to do your first tattoo. It could be after being an apprentice for a year or it could take you a decade. Everyone learns and progresses at different rates so there really is no set amount of time that it will take you to go from a complete beginner to one of the best tattoo artists in your area. Whoever you do your apprenticeship through will know when you are ready and from there, it’s all about trusting their judgement and believing in yourself. You may be nervous but that’s natural.
So, there you have it! This concludes our list of steps that you should take once you decide that you want to make a living doing tattoos on others. It may be a long, hard journey but we know you can do it. After all, thousands upon thousands of people have done it before you. Some of them could only draw stick figures and it took them 5 years to get where they needed to be and others could draw anything and it only took them a year. Heck, some of them may have been paid artists and it still took them a decade to get started.
Either way, we know that you can do it and hope that you will refer back to this list if you ever need a refresher or aren’t sure if you’re doing things the way you’re supposed to be.
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