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How To Be A Tattoo Artist

Updated on February 11, 2013

Becoming A Tattoo Artist

Being a tattooist sounds like it's easy to become one and it is for some who have the talent to draw or a flair for the creative, but it does take a lot of time to perfect the techniques to consider yourself as a good tattooist and together with the skill and talent comes the learning or the studying period which you must go through to pick up key areas for being a tattoo artist, you quite often will have heard of this as an apprenticeship, which is often with an established tattoo shop and artist who will show you everything to do with tattoos.

But first you should really have some form of drawing skill or talent and that should be developed first through some classes or some good old fashioned practising drawing variations of tattoo styles, by looking around through other tattoo shops library collections of their own stock, you can get some excellent ideas and in fact I do this frequently, even though I gave up on being a tattooist years ago I do sell some tattoos as a designer.

A sample set or portfolio is then needed to try and gain a training position or an apprenticeship and your portfolio should sell itself really and more than likely you may have to gain a bit of confidence first, so I recommend going around all of the local tattooists in your area and asking them directly whether they would be willing to take you on as an apprentice by showing them your work, be prepared for some rejections like anything as they may already have taken someone on or have had a bad experience with doing so, but by showing them your artwork you are also getting your work out there, so never be afraid of rejection as all portfolio samples shown in person may result in a sale of some of your work too and a chance for it to appear in their shop, just make sure it's labelled with your name and if possible your website.

Some experts within the tattoo industry will tell you that it takes time to break into the industry as a stand alone tattooist and that is quite true with sometimes up to 4 or more years to perfect and progress on to be a tattooist with your own shop and usually within that period of time it is spent training and learning all the basics to advanced tattooing from your teacher, like anything, you need to stick to it and continue to immerse yourself in the business of body art.

The things you will learn and which are vital for you to be a tattooist are

health and safety - Information for you and the client you are tattooing, to protect from diseases of the blood, such as HIV, Aids and Hepatitus, so naturally this involves proper cleaning of the equipment, needles and sterilisation of the surrounding area.

Tattoo Ink Application - You'll learn all the techniques involved in inking tattoos, what to look out for and ways to minimize inking errors that could occur and possibly how to correct a mistake if that happens, which I have seen on Miami Ink a couple of times.

Using a tattoo machine - All you'll need to know about using autoclaves and other tattoo equipment and what better way to find out than either getting a tattoo from your tattooist who is training you or directly seeing them ink one of their clients.

How to apply stencils for guides - Stencils are useful for complex designs and will guide the artist or some professional tattooists draw directly on the skin with special markers which act as the art guide.

It seems in this day and age, everyone wants to be a tattooist and especially in my home town of Hull in the UK, there are more than a handful of shops that are competing for tattooing and body piercing combined with more advanced body modification becoming the norm....

Anyway, You may be interested in How to draw tattoos to sell online

Good luck with your tattoo journey! And here is a list of Tattoo Art Books that you may find really useful

Be A Tattoo Artist

Become a tattoo artist. Image copyright 2009
Become a tattoo artist. Image copyright 2009

Advanced Tattoo Techniques Book, Essential Knowledge For Aspiring Tattooists

Become A tattooist

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    • deblipp profile image


      8 years ago

      I am heavily tattooed and I have to emphasize the importance of hygiene and safety as well as artistic skill.

    • waynet profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Tully 

      9 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      It sure is Robert!

      By seeing the ink applied onto skin you can see how it is done, what precautions they take and inking techniques they use, what I recommend is to see a few tattooists doing tattoos as you may learn something new from each artist.

    • robertsloan2 profile image


      9 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Sounds good! Thanks for some clear information on how to get started. I never met a tattooist who wasn't wearing at least a dozen good ones, so getting tattoos is a great common sense start.


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