How to Become a Tattoo Artist
The art of tattooing has been practiced for centuries in many cultures and by many different peoples around the world. Today, a steadily-increasing number are thinking of inking. To meet the demands of this unprecedented tattooing phenomenon, there is a growing demand for skilled artists who have the desire to really get under people’s skin.
Too cool for school? Not really
The trick to learning how to become a tattoo artist is that tattooists can’t usually attend a formal school for training since few formal schools exist. Since tattooing is an art that is traditionally handed down, tattooers learn their trade by becoming an apprentice for an already established and experienced mentor. So, the first step to becoming a tattoo artist is obtaining an apprenticeship. Actually, let’s take a few steps back.
Landing an awesome apprenticeship
To prove that you deserve that awesome apprenticeship, you’ll need to show your shop of choice a solid portfolio of fifty to two hundred really good drawings. Yes, as a tattoo artist you will be creating indelible artwork on your customers’ bodies and those clients want that permanent fixture to suit their individual tastes and look amazing. Often, clients want to know what drawing skills their tattoo artists have and request original work. Sometimes, clients request a tattoo of a pre-created design but even those prefabricated pieces need to be successfully transferred in an attractive and flattering way. Your mentor will be considering your artistic skill as the most important factor in deciding whether to take you on as an apprentice at their parlor. If your artwork looks bad, they will look bad.
Developing a perfect portfolio
The best way to generate a great portfolio of drawings, and develop and hone your skills as an artist, is by going to school and majoring in art. Art schooling will give you the opportunity to focus on the basic skills needed in order to learn how to become a tattoo artist. Some advantages to schooling are the art history classes that offer you a chance to study a variety of styles and artworks, the challenge of keeping up with the other students in your classes, and the variety of assignments you professors will challenge you with. Taking art classes will offer you a chance to see what it’s like to work within a set of guidelines as set by your teachers. Eventually, these experiences will be helpful when you start to work with clients on personalized and custom tattoos. If you complete your assignments with the goal of becoming a tattoo artist in mind, you will be able to use many of your assignments to build your tattooing portfolio and land a great apprenticeship.
Trading time for talent to become a tattoo artist
On your apprenticeship, you will basically be making a trade. Your time and money, for the opportunity to learn how to become a tattoo artist from someone proficient in the craft you hope to, one-day, master. You will probably play the part of shop ‘gofer,’ running errands and completing tasks your superiors are too busy to deal with. Sometimes, they will extend challenges to test your willingness and desire to become a tattoo artist. During the six months to two years it might take to complete your apprenticeship, you will learn to make needles, sterilize using equipment using an autoclave, earn your blood borne pathogen certification, and begin learning how to use a tattoo machine. You will need to to perform about a hundred free tattoos during this time to prepare to take the test to become a certified tattoo artist. You should take pictures of each tattoo you do and keep these to continually grow your portfolio. Your portfolio, along with rave reviews from clients will be your number-one way to market yourself and keep a consistent flow of work coming your way.
Income for inking
All your work as an apprentice will lead up to your test for becoming a certified tattooist. It is only after you have successfully passed this test and received your tattooing license that you can begin charging for your services. Hourly wages for beginners can start around fifty dollars and, with time, building a good reputation and portfolio, and continued learning of techniques and skills, the most prestigious tattoo artists can charge from three-hundred to four-hundred dollars per hour for their masterful creations. Your success in this business is up to you but the effort you put into developing your talents from the beginning are really what makes all the difference.