How to become

How to Become a Tattoo Artist

How to Become a Tattoo Artist

Being a tattoo artist can be a fulfilling career if you have a passion for ink and enjoy art and design. It’s difficult to pursue a career in tattooing, as it is in many creative fields. Getting a profession as a tattoo artist requires a large investment of money and effort, but the rewards could be considerably greater.

There are several ways to become a tattoo artist, and whatever one you take will mostly rely on the kind of artist you want to be, your resources, your artistic ability, and the opportunities in your area. However, there are some standard procedures that all prospective artists must adhere to in order to increase their skill level, learn the business, and perfect the art of tattoo.

1.Learn how to draw

Before you ever consider designing tattoos or attempting to practise tattooing, it’s imperative that you concentrate on honing your drawing abilities and illustrating techniques. A great tattoo starts with a visually appealing drawing. Here is how to get going.

Learn to draw on your own

Start by drawing on your own as the first step in getting started. You don’t need anything extra to start drawing in your free time, just a sketchbook and a pencil. Draw the images you observe, the ideas you have, and the descriptions of others. Find out if you actually enjoy drawing and producing art, particularly art for other people. It’s critical that you feel at ease producing artwork that complies with others’ demands because you’ll be sketching requests the majority of the time.

Study the tattoos created by renowned artists.

Studying the work of renowned tattoo artists is an excellent approach to develop a sense of the craft. Find well-known artists who work in a variety of creative mediums, and look into what they have produced with tattoo equipment. Check out what resonates with you and how the market thinks about the tattoos you wish to get. Mirko Sata, Chris Nunez, Miya Bailey, Gerhard Wiesbeck, Frank Carrilho, Rit Kit, and Stanislaw Wilczynski are a few well-known tattoo artists.

Examine several artistic forms

If you appreciate painting but aren’t sure what kind of art you want to create, make sure to experiment with a variety of mediums before making a choice. Create logos, t-shirt designs, abstract art, contemporary art, fine art, and more. Make sure that

creating tattoos is the kind of art you enjoy doing the most before pursuing the idea seriously.

2.Attend art school

It’s critical to look for opportunities to develop as a well-rounded artist if you’re serious about a future in tattooing. In order to decide whether to pursue a standard art degree, training at a master tattoo institute, lessons at a community college, or the self-taught method, it’s critical to be honest about your financial circumstances and to evaluate your artistic abilities. The bottom truth is that you will be a better artist the more time you invest in honing your abilities. This is a significant step because tattoo artists are not needed to have a formal education or even a high school diploma. Compare each’s benefits and drawbacks.

Attend your local community college to take art classes.

The least expensive method to receive an education in art is to take classes at your local community college, although this is not as rigorous as formal instruction at a tattoo school or university. Here, you can practise making art for a range of applications while learning several fundamental design principles.

Get an art degree

Consider attending a university with a strong arts department if you want a traditional education in the arts and have the money to do so. Since there aren’t many schools that provide a degree in tattoo artistry, search for ones that do instead in design, illustration, graphic design, digital arts, performing arts, or commercial art. You can acquire a solid foundation in the arts through a degree programme, covering art history and studies.

Establishing Basic Design Knowledge and Skills

Although tattooing is frequently regarded as a less traditional art form, it nonetheless uses all the fundamental design elements. No matter if you decide to pursue an education or self-teach, it’s critical that you have a solid understanding of how various design aspects interact and affect one another. You ought to:

Study the Fundamentals of Graphic Design

It’s important to master the fundamentals of graphic design whether you have an art education or simply practise drawing. The theories of line, shape, texture, colour, value, and scale must be mastered.

To generate the image you want, you’ll also need to learn how to apply those theories to paper, how to stencil, and eventually how to implement your designs on human skin.

Study Graphic Design Principles

The principles of graphic design, such as balance, alignment, repetition, proximity, contrast, and space, are other crucial abilities to acquire. No drawing is complete without these fundamentals since they contribute to the development of art itself. Each manifests very differently in each piece, therefore it’s important to gain a good grasp of how to manage these concepts in a number of contexts.

3.Create a Portfolio.

One of a tattoo artist’s most crucial tools is by far their art portfolio. It enables potential mentors to rapidly review your greatest work and determine whether your specific artistic approach is what they’re searching for in an apprentice. Your portfolio’s presentation will affect the impression it makes on possible mentors, so be careful to:

Establish a professional portfolio.

Your portfolio should seem both professional and attract the viewer’s attention. Don’t save all of your art in a single manila folder or an old binder you found sitting around. Use a fresh three-ring binder with sheet protectors in place of that, or have the pages matted. Your portfolio’s outside should be streamlined, consistent, and welcoming.

Include quality work

Include 25 to 100 finished tattoo designs in your portfolio, either original or copy of other designs. Make sure the artwork you offer does a fantastic job of displaying your breadth as an artist. Even if your best work normally consists of colorful illustrations, give a couple examples of your black and white work. Even while the artwork might not necessarily work well as a tattoo, it will show that you have good skill and a knack for tattoo design.

When building your portfolio, stay away from common mistakes.

Even though it may seem obvious, it’s crucial to note that there are a few things you should avoid when creating your portfolio, including:

  • Replicating other artists’ work

Depending on the rules in your location, this is plagiarism and may lead to legal action. In the best case scenario, the tattoo parlor will reject your application because it has been filed with pirated artwork. At worst, you might not be accepted and have your reputation damaged before you even begin.

  • Sending pictures of tattoos you’ve got

No matter how good you think they are, don’t include photos of tattoos you’ve given if you aren’t already a licensed professional tattoo artist. First, getting a tattoo without a license is prohibited. Second, it demonstrates your unwillingness to take seriously both the art of tattooing and the health of your customers. It makes it harder for them to mentor you since it lets them know that you could have some bad “scratcher” behaviors that need to be changed.

Make an interesting portfolio

Create a portfolio that potential mentors will want to see by:

Putting together a cover letter and resume

Your cover letter specifically mentions your possible mentor, and your CV shows any pertinent education and experience. By adding these, your portfolio gains an immediate air of professionalism.

Using only finished work

Wait to develop your portfolio until you have more finished works to include if you have a lot of drawings but few finished pieces. Only use finished work in your portfolio; however, you are welcome to include a few copies of the piece at various phases of the drawing process.

Become acquainted with a few talking points for each component.

You’ll probably get a few inquiries about your work of art. Get used to discussing the key aspects of each piece in your portfolio so that you are ready to talk about any one of them with your potential mentor.

A business card left behind

The tattoo artist might not be able to look through your portfolio straight away if you don’t have an appointment at the shop. Leave a business card with your name, contact details, and a URL to your online portfolio so that people may browse your work whenever they like.

Leaving your business card

The tattoo artist might not be able to look through your portfolio straight away if you don’t have an appointment at the shop. Leave a business card with your name, contact details, and a URL to your online portfolio so that people may browse your work whenever they like.

4.Work with an Established Tattoo Artist

When you feel confident in your abilities to draw well and create appealing tattoo designs, it’s time to get some practical experience and begin using the skills you’ve learned in a real-world setting. You cannot learn how to tattoo from a book; instead, you must work with a mentor who, ideally, has been tattooing for a long time and is ready and able to take you under their wing. The following should be considered while looking for a tattoo artist to work with:

Employed by a reputed tattoo parlor

Make sure they have a lot of customers and follow basic hygiene rules. Avoid tattoo parlors that seem deserted, are unable to inform you of their hygienic procedures, or give you a foul vibe.

Previously supervised an apprentice

Even for the most seasoned tattoo artist, mentoring is challenging. Find a mentor who has experience teaching apprentices so they can better understand what works and what doesn’t.

Who is capable of challenging you?

You should be able to be challenged, held accountable, and pushed outside your comfort zone by the artist you choose to be your mentor. A laissez-faire attitude won’t serve you well in the long term, so avoid selecting a mentor who comes out as being overly easygoing.

The best way to talk to a shop about an apprenticeship

The first impression you provide is important when you inquire about an apprenticeship at a tattoo parlor. You ought to:

Finish your homework.

Find out everything you can about the shop where you want to become an apprentice. Learn about each artist’s background and work, as well as any other important business information.

Make direct eye contact

Don’t just give the tattoo parlor a call and speak to someone. By turning up and saying hello, you can put your face in their minds. Visit during the weekday afternoon when it’s least likely to be crowded.

Respect everyone you encounter

It’s possible that the person manning the front desk is an artist filling in for the receptionist while they’re out to lunch, or perhaps they’re close friends with all the other artists. Treat everyone you encounter as if their view of you has the potential to make or ruin your apprenticeship.

The Price of an Apprenticeship in Tattooing

Very few apprenticeships in tattooing are paid; typically, the opposite is true. While some apprenticeships are free, the majority are not. The most competitive and challenging apprenticeships at reputed tattoo parlors are free; the majority of them cost around $5,000. Occasionally, they could reach $10,000 depending on the caliber and standing of the artist you’re learning from. The majority of tattoo artists who start an apprenticeship need a second job to support themselves financially while they finish their training.

5.Learn the trade by finishing an apprenticeship.

Before starting a tattooing business, you must finish an apprenticeship to master the trade. You can do this with your mentor or by searching for a tattoo parlor that is hiring an apprentice. When beginning an apprenticeship in tattooing, anticipate:

A Significant Initial Investment

Along with the expense of your apprenticeship, you’ll also require a few basic tools, such as tattoo guns, sterile equipment, art supplies, and more. Be ready to make a substantial upfront expenditure if you want to become a tattoo artist

To get tattoo design skills

Tattoos are works of art, but not all works of art can be tattoos. To make tattoos that look good on the body and last as long as possible without needing to be touched up, you’ll need to understand how to design them. The location of the tattoo on the body, its size, and its level of detail all affect how it will look over time. Tattoos that are poorly placed or that are too detailed for the size can heal unevenly, causing the ink to spread and the lines to blur.

To acquire knowledge of hygienic workplace procedures

A particular level of hygiene must be maintained because tattooing involves piercing the skin and drawing blood, endangering both the safety of the tattoo artist and the client. You’ll discover things like how to maintain your tattoo machine clean, how to make a sterile work area, when to change gloves, and more. Reputable artists take hygiene extremely seriously, so make sure to check out their hygiene procedures before accepting to be an apprentice. In fact, whenever possible, getting a tattoo by the artist you wish to train under is a great idea.

To acquire business expertise and customer service

Most tattoo artists must acquire at least a few professional skills, such as how to receive payments, balance a ledger, and communicate with customers. The best apprenticeship programmes teach the fundamental abilities required to run and/or manage a tattoo shop in addition to tattooing. This is particularly true if you ever wish to open up your own tattoo parlor.

To perform unpaid work for at least a year

It’s typical for apprenticeship programmes to be unpaid, and you may anticipate doing a lot of free tattoos, so it’s crucial to have enough money or another sort of income so you can get by.

6.Obtain Additional Pre-License Training and Certification

After completing your apprenticeship, you’ll need to complete a few certifications and/or specialized training programmes to satisfy your state’s licensing criteria for tattoo artists. You might also be required to take classes in disease prevention, health and safety, and other fundamental ideas in healthcare, depending on your state. These consist of:

An accreditation for blood-borne pathogens

Since human flesh serves as the tattoo artist’s canvas, it is critical that they adhere to all health and safety regulations. Your training will be focused on preventing the spread of blood-borne diseases and working to maintain the health of the client and the artist. When asked, you must be able to provide documentation of your bloodborne pathogen certification. You will be expected to become certified on how to stop the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other illnesses when making a tattoo at some point during, or after, your apprenticeship programme.

Disease prevention, communicable diseases, and skin disease training

While some blood borne pathogen certification programmes only require you to pass a knowledge test to become certified, others require you to complete classes or seminars on disease management. Being a tattoo artist requires you to have a thorough understanding of the various diseases that can be contracted by tattooing and how to avoid them.

7.Obtain a License

You succeeded! You are prepared to begin tattooing on your own since you have the education, talent, and experience necessary. Next, you should:

Check the requirements in your state

States frequently have different licensing requirements. For instance, in order to obtain a license in Oregon, tattoo artists are required to finish at least 50 tattoos, 360 hours of training with an authorized tattoo artist, a written exam, and a skills evaluation. Only the store needs a license in other states. Examine the license requirements in your state as well as those of any other states where you intend to tattoo. Similar to healthcare, you can obtain a tattoo license in several states as long as you satisfy their regulations.

Request a license

Once you’ve completed any prerequisites, you’ll need to submit an application for your license. Typically, all that is required is filling out a form with your local government agency and paying a fee, although state regulations also vary in this regard.

8.Purchase your own tattoo supplies

Each tattoo artist often has a preferred set of tools. Perhaps you prefer a specific brand of tattoo gun, or you have an allergy to latex and must use nitrile gloves instead. You’ll want to invest in a few essentials to begin with, building your collection as you get more skill because tattoo parlors typically demand artists to provide their own supplies.

The Essential Tools Every Tattoo Artist Requires

You will require a minimum of two tattoo machines that you enjoy working with, an ultrasonic, tubes and grips, sterile needles for lines and shading, green cleaning soap, spray bottles, tiny plastic cups for ink, gloves, and other cleaning equipment. Depending on what you acquire, you should budget for this equipment to cost a few thousand dollars or more.

9.Launch a Career

The final stage of becoming a tattoo artist can frequently seem the most difficult. Now that you’re here, it’s time to market yourself as a tattoo artist, either independently or in an established tattoo parlor. The following step is as follows:

Inquire at a tattoo parlor

Once you get your license, you can apply for any tattoo artist position you choose. Look for opportunities at nearby businesses you want to work at if you are not currently employed by the tattoo studio where you did your apprenticeship. Alternatively, you can drop off your résumé and portfolio for review; tattoo parlors frequently hire new artists when they like someone’s work, even if there isn’t an official job posting.

Establish Your Own Studio

Why not get a head start if your goal is to build your own tattoo parlor and work for yourself? Start researching the supplies you will need, such as furnishings and extra equipment, to create your own store. Consider your target market and competitors, and if necessary, consider moving to a location where you may expect to attract more customers.


How long does it take to complete a tattoo artist training programme?

The Alliance of Professional Tattooists (APT) advises aspiring tattoo artists to work under professional tattooists for at least three years before striking out on their own, even if a tattoo apprenticeship isn’t required.

What Do Tattoo Artists Get Paid?

Tattoo artists might earn as little as $15,000 a year, according to As of December 2021, the median annual salary was $43,745; individuals earning at or above the 90th percentile earned $102,000 or more. Tattooing is a craft, not a standard hourly job, therefore the income depends on both the quantity of tattoos done and the demand for the artist’s work. In the same year, the median hourly income was $99.07.

What are the employment prospects for this field?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that from 2020 to 2030, employment opportunities for all craft and fine artists will increase by 14%. This is consistent with the expansion of all professions and shows how the economy has improved people’s ability to spend money on the arts. The artistry and capacity of a tattoo artist to promote their services, whether through word-of-mouth or a social media presence, may also have an impact on their employment chances.

Does a tattoo artist make good money?

Average annual pay for tattoo artists is $51,867, or $24.94 per hour.

Is it hard to be a tattoo artist?

It will take a great deal of effort, years of devotion and dedication to become a tattoo artist.

Can you teach yourself to be a tattoo artist?

It is possible to learn how to tattoo oneself, but you must put in the time and practise frequently.

How much does a tattoo beginner make?

An artist’s annual compensation might range from $15,000 to $80,000 on average.

How long does it take to become a tattoo artist?

It takes one to three years to train under an experienced tattoo artist to become a tattoo artist.

How to become a tattoo artist apprentice?

Improve visual art abilities then pursue a degree in visual art and demonstrate your ability and sketching frequently and challenging yourself.

How to become a successful tattoo artist?

Master Drawing, go to art school, Never Stop Networking, Secure a job as an apprentice and Find a Licence

How to become a tattoo artist in georgia?

You need to obtain a body art licence from your neighbourhood Environmental Health Office in order to practise tattooing in Georgia.

Tattoo artist salary

In the United States, a tattoo artist makes an average yearly pay of $63021.

Tattoo artist school

The highest level of education held by tattoo artists is a high school diploma.

Becoming a tattoo artist at 40

Tattoo artists are often over 40 years old, making about 50% of the population.