How to Become a Tattoo Artist: Requirements, School, Training

Tattoo Artist

Do you love getting inked? Are you thinking about becoming a tattoo artist yourself?

Getting into the tattoo artist world can serve as one of the most rewarding and creative careers. Each day, you’ll get to use your artistry to design one-of-a-kind pieces that clients will appreciate for a long time. 

But before you ever pick up a needle and ink, you need to know how to become a tattoo artist. Below, we’ll get into what you need to know about the tattoo artist requirements. Keep reading so you can craft a dream career out of your love of body art!

Practice Your Art 

The first step in learning how to become a tattoo artist involves getting good at art. Tattooing involves a lot of drawing. In fact, when people first come in for a tattoo, they often design one with the tattoo artist. The artist draws up a sketch, has it approved by the client, and then turns it into a temporary stencil. This allows the tattoo artist to have an easier time applying it to the skin.

The act of tattooing is also similar to drawing in that you are going over a canvas (the client’s skin) to create a masterpiece. So, tattooing and drawing feature most of the same skills. 

To get good at art, you have a couple of options. First, you should invest in a good art set and start producing drawings on a regular basis. Look for drawing classes. Try reproducing the work of the artists you like (don’t post it online or use it for anything, since this would be a copyright violation).

Doing so will teach you how to create different effects and will give you a better sense of how to reproduce images in the style you like.

Build Your Portfolio

As you start drawing, you should keep a professional-looking portfolio of your best work. 

These portfolios should consist of a crisp-looking, 3-ringed binder. You might want to keep your work in page protectors to keep it from getting damaged. If you’d prefer, you can also include photocopies of your art in the portfolio instead of the original pieces.

Some artists also scan their art into a computer and keep a digital portfolio. Doing so makes it easier for you to send examples of your art to other people. 

Artists start and maintain portfolios so they can get jobs. For tattoo artists, a portfolio serves as proof of your skills, and you can show it to potential employers once you have your tattoo license.

Keep in mind, though, that you shouldn’t include pictures of tattoos you’ve already done unless you’re already a professional tattoo artist. First, tattooing without a license might be illegal in your state (more on that below). Second, you might think your tattoos look really good, but they may not impress a hiring manager at a tattoo parlor.

You also shouldn’t include any copies of anyone else’s work in your portfolio. Doing so will make you appear like you’re lying when you submit your work to a hiring manager.

Work on Your Tattoo License

Most states require tattoo artists to possess licenses in order to practice in a legal manner. Each state’s requirements for getting a license differ, though, so you need to look into the specifications for your region.

Some common requirements include blood-borne pathogen training, Hepatitis B vaccination, and other forms of training. A few states have no licensure requirements but have specifications for tattoo artists and studios. Some of these include having a license for the studio and adhering to health codes. 

You can read a full list of all actions you’ll need to take in order to practice legally, organized by state.

How to Become a Tattoo Artist: Go to School

If you want to improve your chances of becoming a great tattoo artist, you need to enroll in a tattoo school.

Being a tattoo artist involves so much more than applying ink to skin. This includes knowing how to prepare your instruments, familiarizing yourself with different art styles, and learning how to interact with customers.

Tattoo schools can teach you all of these skills and more. They can also teach you the history of tattooing and encourage you to practice your art. In addition, they’ll go over the ethics of tattooing and how to keep your shop and tools clean and safe to use. You’ll also learn how to manage tattoo-related machinery in the most efficient manner.

Often, tattoo schools can get completed in just a few months. By the end of your time in the school, you’ll have had the opportunity to expand your abilities and receive the training you need to become a more successful artist.

You should also consider helping out other students in their efforts to become better tattoo professionals! In fact, some schools offer free tattoos to people who let students tattoo them. If you want to find “free tattoos near me,” click on the link in this sentence!

Start on Your Tattoo Artist Journey

Now that you know how to become a tattoo artist, you’re ready to get started on your journey. 

By practicing your art, building a portfolio, and working on your license, you’ll have the chance to carve out who you are as an artist. Going to school will set you up with the knowledge you need to work in a studio and maintain a positive rapport with customers.

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