How to become a Tattoo Artist

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I want to try to answer the question I get so often. How to become a tattoo artist? Tattoo artists are growing like a weed at the moment. I don’t know the statistics. It’s a hard number to find. But I have a feeling. And I’ve seen proof out there that there are many people that buy their own tattoo kits from eBay or whatever. And they just start tattooing either themselves or on practice skin or on other people. It’s so dangerous, it shouldn’t be allowed anywhere.

Soft Regulations

In my country, you can’t tattoo in a location that is not approved by the health department and to be approved by the health department is sadly a no big deal. It’s very easy to get approved. I wish there were much stricter rules about this because not only can you hurt someone visually by giving them a tattoo that might not be quality work. That’s not the main issue here.

As a receiver of this tattoo made by an at home tattoo artist, the risk is very high that you will end up with a blood disease. And I am not talking about some little infection that will pass in a few days. I’m talking about a real lifelong blood disease that might even kill you in the long run. I’m talking about hepatitis, all of them, and HIV and others. There are so many serious diseases and new ones keep coming as well. So you need to be super careful.

If you want to be a tattoo artist, please don’t go the wrong way. And the wrong way is buying a kit and starting your own teaching. Looking at YouTube videos and stuff like that, that is not the right way to go. You will hurt yourself and you will hurt the ones around you. And the ones you’re tattooing. There is only one right way to go. And that is to be an apprentice at a good tattoo shop. And how do you become an apprentice?

Looking at YouTube videos and stuff like that, that is not the right way to go. You will hurt yourself and you will hurt the ones around you. Click To Tweet

Draw, draw, draw

Well, first of all, you need to just draw a draw and draw. You need to have a portfolio to show off so that when you walk into a tattoo shop and ask for a job, they want to know why should they hire you. Why are you any better than all the other ones that want a job? So you really have to sell yourself with your portfolio. Yes, it’s nice to have a portfolio book that you can bring to shops and show them. But it’s even more important that you have an online portfolio like a Facebook page or Instagram and you put out all your artwork out there. You have to show everyone what you can do.

Man painting human eye

The more followers you get, and the more comments and likes you get, you get more feedback to your art. You will improve and be even better and learn all the time. An online portfolio that will show everyone what you can draw, your style. Draw what you love to do. Just keep on drawing and be better and better and better. Show us that you’re improving and becoming a better artist for every drawing that you make. So study. Study drawing on YouTube, watch videos on how to draw eyes or whatever and study them. Try and post it and see your own progression.

Connect with shops

After you have a massive portfolio, preferably online, because you can always print them out later. An online portfolio full of your stuff, you can start talking to artists or shop owners asking them if they would need any help. That could just be that ticket inside. And you will clean the floors, and you will scrub and you will do all the slave work that there is in the shop. And yes, it’s a non-paying job that you have to do every day full time. But you can look at it as a full-time nonpaying job. Or you can look at it as a free education for a very well paid career that you’re going to have for the rest of your life.


Person wearing gloves cleaning toilet bowl

It’s not free to educate yourself as a doctor or a lawyer. But the tattoo business is. Yes, tattoo education is free, you just do a lot of hard work. And you need to be kind of the slave. But it will pay off so much. The tattoo business is really about climbing the ladder. But once you start climbing, there’s no end in possibilities. Who knows what’s at the end of this ladder. That’s up to you to decide really, and it’s all about hard, hard work.

It will be worth it

I feel like many apprentices these days are kind of spoiled in a way because they’re not used to this old-fashioned bitching around and having to be the slave. I have had apprentices quit because they weren’t allowed to begin to tattoo fast enough, or they didn’t like being put in the reception one day, or they didn’t like talking on the phone.

Person with tattoos on arms


So just remember to draw and draw, keep an online portfolio and just ask around. Walk into tattoo shops, talk to the ones that are there. Maybe you can get a meeting with a shop owner or an artist that is open to talk to you. Maybe they want you to send in an email first, or give your resume on the desk. Print out some of your best work and a resume. So you can just hand it out and put it in the reception so that when they have the time they can look at it. And if they’re interested in you, they will contact you. And just keep on doing that.

The right shop

Go for the studios that you really want to work at. Don’t just go to the nearest one because that might not be the best one for you. You want to have a mentor that can teach you what you want to know and how to become a really good artist. So try to find a tattoo artist or a tattoo shop that is really well known. And that has a good name. So you know that there are clients there. You don’t want to sit there and roll your thumbs or wait for a client.

Man doing tattoo on person's arm

As I said, you’ll have to be the slave. You’ll have a nonpaying job for a long time. And that depends on the shop. And the place in the world. The country, the city, the artists that will mentor you, it depends on many things. But prepare to be an apprentice and not to earn a single amount of money the first two to 20 months. It depends really on so many things.

Show me the Money

Try to save up some money before so that you have money to pay rent, or even move to your parents or keep your life as economical as possible. It’s going to take time before you start climbing up this ladder. And when you do you’re going to get it back. Look at it as an investment. It takes so much work from you and you will get so little back in the beginning. About the money: How to make great money as a tattoo artist. And all my other Being a Tattoo Artist articles.

Do you want to become an apprentice? We are always looking for that new tattoo star. If you are a talented artist, check out the contact info on Attitude Tattoo Studio. Don’t be afraid to say Hi! Show us what you can do, and maybe you are our next tattoo artist?

It's going to take time before you start climbing up this ladder. And when you do you're going to get it back. Look at it as an investment. It takes so much work from you and you will get so little back in the beginning. Click To Tweet
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