Becoming a Tattoo Artist

Does your art look like a bunch of tattoos?

Do you look forward to the day when you’re the one doing the inking?

Well, you’re here on this page – so you’re on your way to becoming a tattoo artist.

But where does the process begin? How can you get started tattooing?

Every artist has a different story to tell you. But there are always a few common threads.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Becoming an Artist in Three Dimensions

Our first recommendation is that you examine your own portfolio.

What is your style? And how will you need to adapt it for tattooing?

Think about it – the human body has no straight lines.

If you have a tattoo beginner starter kit, it probably came with practice skin. If you already tried inking the skin, you probably did it on a tabletop, right?

Wrong. You need to practice tattooing round or curvy things.

Yes, a grapefruit or a banana is not the same as tattooing human skin. They certainly won’t complain when you get the angle wrong, and it hurts. But you’ll see how the curves affect the drawing.

You’ll start to understand depth in a new way.

It’s also fun to wrap the fake skin around the arm or leg of your friend to practice. You won’t be inflicting pain, but you will begin to deal with uneven surfaces and a living, breathing client.

In the end, you won’t need a lot of straight lines or perfect circles to do tattoos. But you will need to look at three dimensions, not just two.

The Mechanics of Tattooing

A steady hand will help you ink outlines and text.

But you need to perfect your coloring and shading.

You’ll need separate liners and shaders if you’re using coil tattoo machines. But if you have a rotary tattoo machine, one iron can do both.

No matter what tool you use, you’ll need to think about the mechanics of how to fill in the outline.

For example, every left-hander knows what it’s like to smear ink as they write. Lefties tend to learn to strategize how they’ll ink before right-handers do.

Think about where you’ll start and end, then practice your technique.

If you want to get really good, do the same even when you draw on paper so that it becomes a habit.

Do It the Right Way

Tattoo artists have a responsibility to other people.

It’s not just about creating the art that expresses that person’s desire.

You’re also protecting their well-being.

Sure, it’s more complicated than stepping up to a canvas and slapping on some paint. But it’s worth it.

Start right now to get the kind of reputation where your own mother would come to you for a tattoo.

Even when you practice, observe good hygiene and safety standards.

You’ll get used to doing it the right way, and then it’s automatic.

Besides keeping your client healthy, you can help them have a more pleasant experience.

Learn how to use and adjust your tattoo machines. Experiment with different settings so you understand the difference between hard color packing, soft shading, and so on.

Get the Equipment You Need

Learn about the best tattoo machine brands. Test out the best tattoo inks.

When you buy equipment, you’re investing in your future.

If you get what you need in the beginning, you can relax and focus on the art.

Plus, you won’t have any excuse for cutting corners.

Become an Apprentice and Get Certified

Prepare your portfolio to present to professional artists.

Include drawings suitable to the size of space you’ll be inking. For instance, everything from little tattoos for gaps to designs for sleeve tattoos.

If you can demonstrate some knowledge along with your enthusiasm, you’ll be more likely to find someone to apprentice you.

Then it’s time to look into certification and licensing. The rules vary widely depending on where you are.

Check with both your local and state government to see the rules.

You’ll likely need to pass exams about hygienic practices before you’re allowed to work on people.

Also, now’s the time to learn about your limits. If you’re shaky, tired, or sore, you’re not going to be able to draw well.

Be sure to take regular breaks to avoid giving yourself tendinitis or worse.

Keep Expanding Your Skill Set

Learn from every tattoo artist that you can.

Study styles and techniques that you don’t like as well as ones you do.

Look forward to trying something new, but don’t be afraid to find your niche.

Experiment with different tattoo machines and inks.

Make it a goal to keep expanding your skill set, and you’ll never get bored.

It Isn’t Fame That Matters; It’s Satisfaction

Fame is exciting, but it has a downside.

Aim for satisfaction. If you love what you do, it pays you back in a way that fame and money can never do.

We wish you the best of success and happiness as you become a tattoo artist.

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