How to become a tattoo artist?

Are you thinking about starting a career in the tattoo industry or maybe have a passion for art, and thinking of exploring your possibilities further? If becoming a tattoo artist is something that you are considering, have a look at this article, where we talk about common ways to become a tattoo artist.

Blog author
Ink Public Team
October 4 2021

Tattooing is not for everyone, but those who choose the tattoo life are often very happy with it. If you, too, are considering joining this life path and lifestyle, there are some ways you can go about it. Everyone has a different tattoo start and especially journey, but in this article, you will find the most common path to become a tattoo artist and some obstacles that may come with it. 


Artistic background and building a portfolio


You probably already know that you might need to have an inclination towards the arts to become a tattoo artist. Tattooing requires a lot of sketches for clients, flash tattoos, and some general artwork. If you’re not that proficient, doodling, online classes, or tracing might help you get started!


The next step you might want to take is building a portfolio. When you are applying for apprenticeships or marketing, a portfolio might help you quite a lot. Finding your best pieces and diversifying the styles and objects present in the portfolio will help you form a good impression. It helps to portray your style and proficiency level and abilities. Building a solid portfolio may also indicate your potential place of apprenticeship that you are serious about beginning your career in the tattoo industry and consistent. 

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Finding a mentor


After you build a solid artistic base, you might want to begin your search for a mentor, an artist you would like to work under, and get to know the craft.


A great place to start is scouting the artists near you and looking through their social media. Tattoo artists most often post their work on their Facebook or Instagram pages for most to see. There, you can get a sense of their aesthetic and proficiency. If you have decided what kind of style of tattooing you want to master, it can be one of the criteria you look for in a mentor. Since every tattooing style is different and requires different techniques, a mentor that tattoos in the same style as you would like to in the future would help you a lot in building your skillset. 

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Applying for an apprenticeship and licensing


The best way to learn how to ink the skin is under the supervision of experienced artists. One way to achieve this is to apply and get an apprenticeship in a tattoo studio. You can find a listing online from a studio looking for an apprentice and apply there. Another option is to actively seek out artists or tattoo shops in which you would like to work in. That way, there is a chance that you will get an apprenticeship in a studio that fits the style that you want to tattoo in the future! In this process, you might want to use the portfolio you build beforehand to showcase your skills and determination.


During your apprenticeship, you will most likely work for free. Most of your duties will include setting up the stations, stocking up the supplies, getting food for the artists, and generally making sure that everybody is happy in the studio. However, how the apprenticeship is set out often depends on the studio, you end up working at. Additionally, apprenticeships can vary by time - you might finish your training in 6 months, or it can take up to a year.


According to UK law, the premises operating hold a valid tattooing license, so that would cover you as well. However, a little side note for those who are considering working as a mobile tattoo artist - you will need to apply for a license to do so.


Getting your equipment


When you are ready to start tattooing, you will have to buy your equipment. You can get it in tattoo conventions or specialised stores. The most basic supplies are a tattoo machine, needles, and grips. What else will you need will vary depending on what kind of equipment your tattoo studio offers. 


When you start tattooing, it will most likely be on fake skin or yourself for a start. Moving forward, you will presumably tattoo for free to practice and start building up your client base little by little. 

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Building your clientele - marketing and customer service


The next step to becoming an established tattoo artist is building your clientele base and marketing your work online. For marketing, there are great tools you can learn to use online, as there are excellent advertising opportunities for tattooists, and mastering social media is a must! To do so, finding a podcast, a course, or getting some tips from already established artists is a great start. Planning out your posts, getting client reviews can help.


As your career progresses and you move towards an appointment-only schedule, you might want to consider investing in a booking platform. That way, you can reach your customers quickly and look over your appointments. It is a great planning tool that can help you stay on top of your sketches, consultations, and tattoo sessions!

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