Tattooing is an incredibly rewarding career.
Not only can you make a great living (I know artists who make over 500$ a day and work less than 3 days a week), but you can also create timeless art that you will the respect of your community.
But before you take the plunge, there are some points you must consider.
Today a good tattoo artist is not only a person that knows how to draw, it is also an amazing marketer. Half of your time will have to be spent on learning new skills (like lining and shading techniques), photographic and editing the pictures and posting and building your community on social media.
Yes, tattoos are no longer about flash works and walk-ins, but personalized pieces for each client.
There are also some hard truths about being a tattooist most people won’t tell you, such as the proneness to tendinitis, the required discipline to declare your earnings in order to prepare the retirement, and the intense and continuous sessions of work.
1) Commit and get started today
Starting is the hardest part. Once you break the fear through action the pieces will start falling into place. So do it as quickly as possible. Once you finish this article, choose a training for yourself and get started.
Your first steps will be to tattoo oranges and melons. As soon as you have some trust on your grasp of the machine, quickly move on to your friends skin - that's the only way to get real skin experience.
2) Practice your drawing like there's no tomorrow
You must be crazy about drawing and mad about art. That’s the easiest way to remain sane in the tattoo world.
The better you draw, the faster your art will evolve.
But if your drawing sucks, don't lose hope, you can always choose to make it your signature. Today, many artists specialize in a trashy style and purposely do simple and aesthetically considered ugly tattoos. It's all about the right niche and trend.
3) Take a Tattoo Training course
We recommend Tattooing 101 but you check out our analysis of the top 10 courses available online.
You can also take a live training in your area of residence - they are more hands on, but can also be way more expensive. We recommend starting with an online training and then moving on to a live training. If you arrive with some experience you'll be able to better apply what you learn and follow up on the lessons. You will also get direct help with the certification and Bloodborne Pathogens training in your area.
4) Choose your direction and become unique
The most successful artists are the ones that specialise on a type of art. And the more they specialise, the better they become.
The example of •DES•THEX• - a German artist who only makes geometric works.
Or Yeono, a South Korean artist who mostly tattoos pets.
Or Anita La Sainte, a Spanish artist who specialises in micro-realism.
If you don’t specialise, you’ll probably end up doing lots of varied pieces from walk-in clients, which is ok, but won’t pay nearly as much and won’t allow you to become a reference in your favourite topics.
Having a mentor will also help you tremendously, so once you finish your training, look for an apprenticeship in a shop with artists you respect. If you ask nicely, most artists will be happy to become your mentors.
5) Become your own brand
You must create a brand for yourself if you want to succeed as a tattoo artist. This means that your portfolio will not be in a dossier - it will be on your website, social media, Tattoos Wizard, and other databases, constantly updated.
Every time you finish a tattoo, get the best photos you can get. Here's a quick guide on taking better tattoo photos. High quality photos, good lighting (get a ring light) and absolute consistency in the style you have those photos.
Like the Guy Waisman:
That’s how make your art pieces famous.
If you are willing to put in the work, we are here to help you get started on your journey. So, what will you do to start today your tattooist adventure?