For many, becoming a tattoo artist is the dream. This is a career full of fun and creativity, but it also comes with its immense challenges.
The biggest challenge is learning the art of tattooing.
While some might think that tattooing is simply creating art on a person’s body, there’s a lot more to it than that. This art is permanent, and expensive.
As such, tattoo artists cannot simply do half a job at work. They need to know how to create art from scratch, and they need to know how to properly transfer that art to human skin.
Technique, style, and knowledge are all key factors when it comes to being a successful tattoo artist.
If you’re interested in exploring the world of tattooing, you’re in the right place. Here, we’re going to look at how you can start learning to tattoo online, and how to become a full-fledged tattoo artist.
Learn How To Tattoo Online
The online world has countless sources that we can make use of. From simple courses to masterclasses, there are so many opportunities at our fingertips.
If you want to learn about tattooing, there are hundreds of online courses that you can take to start your journey.
We will explore a few of these courses below, then move on to how you can become a tattoo artist.
Online Courses For Tattooing
This incredible tattoo course from Domestika is a beginner level course for anyone interested in learning about tattooing basics.
In this course, you will cover the history of tattoos, how to assemble kits, anatomical considerations, hygiene, filling, dotwork and pointillism, dismantling, and care.
Information About This Course
- Beginner level
- Gives you unlimited access for life
- Spanish audio with English, Polish, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian subtitles
- Available via the app
- Course can be completed at your own pace
- There are 16 lessons, coming to 3 hours and 1 minute in total length
- There are 14 additional resources
- This course has 99% positive reviews from 2.8k reviews
Lily Lu’s Tattoo Basics for Beginners is a free course that explores the basic principles of tattooing and art.
This course will cover the following topics: basics of tattoo equipment; avoiding cross contamination; good hygiene; workplace setup; stencil preparation; design preparation; tattoo placement; how to work with a client; tattooing outlines, filling and shading; tattoo aftercare; tattoo pricing; and a course assessment.
Information About This Course
- Beginner level
- 3-4 hours of content
- Unlimited free access to the course
- Can be completed at your own pace
- Covers 20 topics over 3 modules
- Available via iOS and Android apps
Sally Nassar’s tattoo course covers all the basics for tattooing. They state that anyone who is interested doesn’t need to have any experience with tattooing, but must have a basic knowledge of drawing.
In this course, you cover the following: assembling rotary and coil machines; creating stencils and transferring; proper client handling; various tattooing techniques; needle types and sizes; treating infections and avoiding cross contamination; setting up and dismantling the work station; price setting; and a final project.
Information About This Course
- Beginner level
- Unlimited free access for life
- Course is in English, as are subtitles
- Accessible via TV and mobile
- 1.5 hours of video
- 4 downloadable resources
- 4.3-star rating of 498 ratings
Becoming a tattoo artist is not easy. It requires a lot of hard work and dedication, but also skill.
Unfortunately, being a tattoo artist isn’t the right career choice for just anyone. It takes a certain kind of person to be successful, not just because it takes time, but because you need to be a skilled artist and have a steady hand.
If you’re thinking of becoming a tattoo artist, then consider the below points. We will go through each of these in detail to help you start your journey.
1. Decide if it’s the Right Career Choice For You
The first step is crucial. You need to figure out if pursuing a career in tattooing is the right option for you!
To do that, you need to know what being a tattoo artist entails. A tattoo artist has the following responsibilities:
- Meeting clients and discussing tattoo ideas
- Booking appointments
- Cleaning and sterilizing equipment and work areas
- Creating new designs
- Staying up-to-date with tattoo trends
- Staying up-to-date with health and safety procedures
- Tattooing clients
- Educating clients on aftercare
Tattoo artists are generally very happy with their careers of choice. However, it isn’t an easy one.
To be considered a professional, you typically need between 5-10 years of experience. That means that you will need to put hours of work into your career, and you don’t really get to take a break!
When you aren’t tattooing, you will constantly be learning about new things, and designing tattoos for clients and potential clients.
You also usually have to have the right kind of personality to be a tattoo artist. Considering that you’re working with people every day, you need to be social to some degree, and you need to get on with others.
Tattoo artists must have a sense of social responsibility, conscientiousness, and agreeableness. On top of that, they need to have a flair for artistry, and they need to be a problem-solver.
Do you have the right personality? You can even take a quick quiz to see if your personality and interests line up with being a tattoo artist!
2. Learn And Understand Everything You Can About Art
Being a tattoo artist is all about art and permanently inking your client’s skin. This means that it’s a huge responsibility, and you need to get things right.
You need to have a good understanding of art, and be willing to continuously learn about it. Tattoo styles are forever evolving, and new angles are constantly being explored.
There are so many tattoo styles out there. While you don’t need to know every single one, you should have a good understanding of a number of different ones.
You can always have a favorite, though, so don’t worry too much about that!
A Few Types Of Tattoo Styles Include The Following
- American traditional
- Black and gray
- Fine line
- Old school
- New School
- Traditional Japanese
You should also research other forms of art. This can be done by attending courses, or simple by using books from the library.
Depending on the kind of tattoo style you primarily want to focus on, you should tailor a fair amount of your learning towards that. Excel at your chosen style, but continuously learn and improve on various other styles, too.
3. Be Flexible
Becoming a tattoo artist can be a long and difficult journey. This is partly because there is no one route you can take to become one.
You can always take online classes, or go to college for tattoo courses, but this doesn’t determine your success.
The vast majority of tattoo artists and parlors will expect an aspiring artist to do an apprenticeship.
Doing an apprenticeship gives you the opportunity to learn everything you need to know for the job while on the job.
You will have a mentor who will teach you everything there is to know on the subject, and guide you through the whole process.
This is seen as being far more valuable than classes, and some even look down on classes. As such, you need to have the flexibility to take on opportunities when and where they become open.
A tattooing apprenticeship might not be what you had in mind initially, but it will give you the skills to learn and be in the right environment to further your career.
You can’t be set on one way of doing things in the tattooing industry. There is a chance that you might need to relocate to be a part of the opportunity, or take an apprenticeship that may be a little odd. Either way, flexibility will make or break your career.
4. Get A Tattooing Apprenticeship
An apprenticeship is the traditional way of becoming a tattoo artist. Here, you will get to work with an established artist and learn the tools of the trade from them.
In many ways, these apprenticeships are a rite of passage, and no tattoo artist will take you seriously if you haven’t done one.
It’s important to find a shop that has a good reputation. Your mentor has to be a pro in the field, and they have to want to teach you.
They should also have some kind of background in education, even if that just means that they’re already a successful mentor.
In an apprenticeship, you will start with absolute basics. This is usually doing menial things around the shop and slowly moving your way up.
You will also spend a lot of time observing others while they tattoo to learn more about it.
The apprenticeship will eventually lead to you mixing inks, handling needles, and tattooing clients.
Before that, however, you will be practicing on things like oranges or pig skin. You will do around 100 tattoos for free while doing your apprenticeship. During this time, they can tattoo anyone who is willing to be a guinea pig.
Eventually, the apprentice will do a test, and become certified. Once this happens, they can start to charge customers.
It should be noted that rules and regulations for becoming a tattoo artist vary from state to state. As such, you should conduct your own research in your particular state to see what you need to do.
5. Be Persistent And Persevere
You need to earn your career as a tattoo artist, and bad work won’t fly. As long as you have the skills for the job, you need to persevere and be persistent.
Know that this career will constantly challenge you, and you always need to be up for the job.
Create your own brand, and attract clients to you specifically. You want clients to visit your shop to see you.
This means that if you ever leave, those clients will follow you to have the privilege of being tattooed by you. That’s that tattooing and building your own brand is all about.
6. Have Excellent Attention To Detail
Attention to detail doesn’t only apply to the intricacies of tattoo designs. You also need to know how to place things down in the right order, especially with colors!
Not only that, but you need to be able to determine how well tattoos will work on different body parts and types of skin.
A tattoo should always complement the area where it’s going, and it needs to go with the flow of the body. This is a crucial step you need to be aware of to be a successful artist.
Know and plan your tattoos out, so everything can be laid down in the right order, and know what will work and what will not.
Where Do Online Courses Fit In With A Career In Tattooing?
Online courses aren’t the go-to method for learning tattooing. However, they do have their place for people who would like to try and get ahead of the game.
These courses don’t replace the need for apprenticeships, but they can give you a skill baseline that could be very helpful.
The courses can also allow you to do your own practice and learn as much as you can before you take on an apprenticeship.
So, while they can give you a step-up, an apprenticeship will still be your primary way of learning the skill. These apprenticeships will also get you in the right environment to learn about the culture.
Through an apprenticeship, you will learn more than you ever could with an online course, as there is much more to it than the theory work.
You can learn various techniques by taking tattoo courses. These will give you a step-up in your career, but they don’t replace the need for apprenticeships.
An apprenticeship is a rite of passage in the tattooing industry, and allows you to be part of the tattoo culture.
This will give you a more holistic view of the career you’re going into, and is more beneficial than you could ever think.