What is required to become a tattoo artist? What does it take to get into the tattooing industry? Many dream of becoming a tattoo artist, but without the adequate training and artistic talent, they often fail miserably.

become tattoo artistIf you are an artist, you are already one step ahead in becoming a tattooist. Many of the skills the artist has (including creative talent) is needed to become an accomplished tattooist. Tattooing requires a good eye, steady hand, patience and very good drawing skills. A trained tattooist also should know everything involved with inking a tattoo and running a shop.

As with most business ideas for artists, a lot of training and practice is required before becoming qualified to actually ink a person.

Learning tattooing is a little more complicated than ordering a tattoo kit from eBay and trying to learn on your own. Depending on where you live you may find that there are certain laws or regulations in regards to becoming certified to open a tattoo shop.

If you have an interest in the art of tattooing, and would like to learn more, do some research online. Visit some tattoo forums and watch tattoo instructional videos on Youtube. Realize though that free online tattoo training is often not adequate for learning tattooing. But, you can use it to decide if the tattooing business is for you.

Here are some steps to becoming a tattoo artist:

Steps to becoming a tattoo artist

  1. Learn to draw.

    learn to drawTake drawing classes or go to art school.

    The best tattoo artists have an artistic background and raw talent.

    Practice as much as you can, hone your skills and begin building a portfolio.




  2. Buy a cheap tattoo kit on eBay and begin practicing.

    But, do not practice on people yet! If friends hear that you have the tattoo kit, they may want you to tattoo them. But, resist the urge! Learning tattooing is a process, and without knowing the proper safety procedures, it can be dangerous – and can lead to disease – which could get you in a heap of trouble!

    Practice on fake skin (which you can buy from tattoo stores) and fruit such as oranges, grapefruit and lemons. Become very familiar with handling the tattoo machine, tattooing equipment, the different types of tattoo needles and health and safety practices.

  3. Take a tattooing course

    A certified tattoo course or apprenticeship is required in many areas to ink people. Such courses teach you all the parts of the tattoo machine, proper maintenance, the steps to creating a tattoo, and safety practices.

    Here are some things you should learn:

    butterfly flower tattooHistory of tattooing
    Proper cleaning of tattoo equipment
    The parts of a tattoo machine
    Designing a tattoo
    Lining and shading
    Working with tattoo flash
    Using different tattoo needles
    Using the power supply
    Health and safety protocols
    Common diseases from tattooing and preventing them 
    Cleaning up after a tattoo and sterilization of equipment
    Tattoo cover-ups
    Tattoo aftercare



    Although such a course is sometimes not required to become a tattooist, it will certainly help in finding someone who is willing to take you as an apprentice.

  4. Find an apprenticeship.

    celtic tattooUsually, finding a tattoo apprenticeship is not easy. You will have to find someone who is willing to train you in his/her tattoo shop.

    Find a tattoo artist who has plenty of experience and present them with a portfolio of your best drawings, paintings and tattoo designs.

    Tattooing training is normally expensive, and hours will be spent working with the professional tattooist, preparing the tools, watching the inking and cleaning up afterwards. The apprentice will have to be very patient during this process, as it may be a while before being allowed to ink an actual person.

    Also, unless you have made some sort of arrangement with the mentor, you will not be making money during your apprenticing. So, it may be necessary to have another job or source of income during your tattooing training.

  5. Keep learning

    As with any art medium, there are always things to learn as a tattoo artist. Never think you have achieved perfection. Continue to look at what other tattoo artists are doing, especially the more accomplished of them.

  6. Protect your Reputation

    wrist tattooAs you know, tattoos are permanent. A mistake in a tattoo will stay with you for years to come, unless that person decides to get a cover-up.

    Make sure you have had adequate practice and training before even attempting inking on a person.

    Start with simple tattoos and master these before attempting more complicated ones.




    Be patient, and with time and recommendations from clients, your reputation as a tattoo artist will grow.

Is tattooing something you are interested in?

*Tattoos by Graham Matthews









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  1. This article is a bit backwards. Because of the dangers involved in tattooing, an apprenticeship should come first! Anyone capable of teaching you to tattoo properly will prefer you to come as a blank slate, with your art skills only. You DO NOT need to know anything specific to tattooing before the apprenticeship; in fact, if you follow this guide you will probably have bad habits of hand and gear and be turned down for one.

    Show up with an art portfolio that is solid, and a willingness to learn properly, safely, and from a professional- instead of trying to teach yourself. Tattooing isn't like any other medium- you have the safety of both yourself AND the client to be concerned with, so you have to start out properly, right from the beginning, by learning from someone qualified to teach.

    In fact, a lot of tattoo artists will NOT apprentice someone who has been trying to "learn on their own" or has bought crappy gear online to get "familiar with it". Just learn to draw, and be willing to work hard, and shop for a teacher.

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