Breaking into the Tattoo Industry: Tips for Beginners

Starting a tattooing career is an exciting and challenging journey. Tattoo artists are now highly sought after, and the industry continues to grow rapidly, with an estimated revenue of $1.6 billion in 2023.

If you have a passion for art and an eye for detail, starting a career in tattooing may be the perfect path for you. However, like any profession, there are certain things you need to know before embarking on this journey.

In this document, we will discuss the top tips for starting a career in the tattoo industry and the different types of tattoos that you should be familiar with. So let’s get started!


Many professional tattoo artists recommend completing an apprenticeship before starting your own business. An apprenticeship allows you to:

  • learn from experienced artists
  • gain hands-on experience
  • build a portfolio of your work

It is also an excellent opportunity to expand your network in the tattoo industry. A key tip for finding an apprenticeship is to be persistent and open-minded.

Not all artists offer apprenticeships, so don’t be discouraged if you get rejected. Keep trying, and eventually, you will find the right mentor.

Develop Artistic Skills

Tattooing is a form of art, and it requires a certain level of skill and creativity. If you are serious about starting a career in tattooing, it is essential to develop your artistic skills.

Practice drawing different styles, study anatomy, and experiment with different mediums. Additionally, being able to work well with clients and understand their vision for their tattoos is crucial.

While you may be born with natural talent, it is also essential to continuously improve and learn new techniques, as trends in the industry are constantly evolving. There is always room for growth and improvement in the art of tattooing.

Familiarize Yourself with Different Types of Tattoos

There are various types of tattoos, and as a tattoo artist, you should be familiar with all of them. Some popular styles include traditional, realism, watercolor, and blackwork. Knowing the differences between these styles will not only help you develop your own unique style but also cater to a wider range of clients.


Traditional tattoos are also known as old-school tattoos. They are characterized by black bold outlines and limited color tones. They often feature classic designs such as roses, anchors, and eagles.


Realism tattoos aim to replicate the look of a photograph or real-life object on the skin. These tattoos require significant skill and attention to detail to achieve a lifelike appearance.


Watercolor tattoos are a relatively newer style, and as the name suggests, they resemble watercolor paintings. These tattoos often have vibrant colors and abstract designs, giving them a unique and artistic look.


Blackwork tattoos involve using only black ink to create bold and intricate designs. These tattoos can range from geometric patterns to traditional tribal designs.

Invest in Health and Safety

A significant aspect of the tattoo industry is health and safety. As a tattoo artist, you are responsible for the well-being of your clients, and it is essential to invest in the necessary equipment and protocols to ensure their safety.

This includes using sterile needles, wearing gloves, and maintaining a clean workspace. When tattooing, hygiene should always be a top priority. This not only protects your clients but also yourself from potential infections and diseases.

Research Legal Requirements

Each country and state has different regulations for tattoo artists, so it is crucial to research the legal requirements in your area. Some may require a license or certification, while others may have specific guidelines for operating a tattoo studio.

Knowing these regulations will not only make you a responsible artist but also protect you from any legal issues. You must adhere to all legal requirements to operate safely and professionally in the tattoo industry.

Build a Portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of your work and is essential for any aspiring tattoo artist. It showcases your skills, creativity, and style to potential clients and employers. Start building your portfolio by tattooing on friends or family members before showcasing it to the public.

Without a portfolio, it will be challenging to gain recognition and build a client base. Your portfolio should reflect your best work and continuously evolve as you improve your skills.

Attend Tattoo Conventions and Workshops

Tattoo conventions and workshops are excellent opportunities to learn from experienced artists, network with other professionals in the industry, and showcase your work. It is also an excellent way to stay updated on new techniques, equipment, and styles.

You can find upcoming conventions and workshops online or through tattoo magazines. These events are a great way to immerse yourself in the tattoo industry and gain valuable knowledge.

Invest In Tattooing Equipment

To start your tattooing career, you will need to invest in quality equipment. These include a tattoo machine, needles, ink, gloves, and other sterilization tools. It is crucial to purchase these items from reputable suppliers and ensure they are of high quality for the safety of your clients.

If you are looking for a tattoo machine, visit online forums or tattoo conventions. Get recommendations from experienced artists out there. It is always better to invest in quality equipment rather than cutting corners and risking the health of your clients.

Develop Customer Service and Communication Skills

Communication and customer service skills are essential for any business, including tattooing. As a tattoo artist, you will work closely with clients to understand their vision and create a design that meets their expectations.

Being able to communicate effectively and provide excellent customer service can lead to happy clients and repeat customers. If you are asking about “how much does a tattoo artist make,” the key to getting paid right is to provide quality work and build a strong reputation.

But it’s also important to know how much to charge for a tattoo. Researching industry rates and considering factors such as the time it takes, the complexity of the design, and your experience level can help you determine a fair price for your services.

Know What It Takes for Starting a Tattooing Career

Starting a tattooing career requires passion, dedication, and hard work. By following these top tips and continuously learning and improving your skills, you can build a successful career in the growing tattoo industry.

Remember to be prepared for hard work. With time, practice, and perseverance, you can achieve your goal of becoming a professional tattoo artist.

So, are you ready to start your career in the tattoo industry? Let’s get inked!

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