How to Get a Tattoo Apprenticeship and Tips on Becoming a Tattoo Artist

How to Get a Tattoo Apprenticeship & Understanding the Tattoo Artist Journey

Last Updated on July 18, 2023 by Avia

If you are considering becoming a tattoo artist, you are likely wondering what the process looks like. After all, not just anyone can jump into the business. There is an apprenticeship phase with many steps to get through before you can start inking skin for a living. To give you an idea of this topic, we’ll look more closely at each step of an apprenticeship and talk about how to move through it as quickly and easily as possible.

How to Get a Tattoo Apprenticeship and Tips on Becoming a Tattoo Artist

What is a Tattoo Apprenticeship?

A tattoo apprenticeship is a way to learn the craft of tattooing. It involves working alongside an experienced tattoo artist, learning the basics of tattoo design, technique, and health and safety protocols. Apprentices often practice on themselves or test subjects at first. Then, as they gain more experience, they may begin taking on paying customers under the guidance of their mentor. 

Apprenticeships last anywhere from one to three years. It depends on the level of skill needed and the individual’s dedication to learning. During this time, apprentices must master various skills to fully understand tattooing. These include drawing, shading, and coloring techniques, sterilization protocols, and working with clients. Apprentices must also learn the importance of networking with other artists and gaining exposure to their work. Finding an apprenticeship can be a daunting task. Still, it is essential to finding a successful career in the tattoo industry. 

Steps in the Tattoo Apprenticeship Process for Becoming a Tattoo Artist 

Once you decide to become a tattoo artist, the apprenticeship process is the next step. It can be a long and challenging pathway, but learning all aspects of the business is necessary. This process will give you the skills and knowledge needed to be a successful tattoo artist. 

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Here are the steps involved in the apprenticeship process to become a tattoo artist: 

1. Find an Established Artist to Mentor You 

Before becoming a tattoo artist, you must first find a mentor. Choosing the right tattoo artist as a mentor should be a thoughtful decision. You should do research, and take your time in selecting someone that can teach, nurture and support your journey to becoming a tattoo artist. Additionally, your mentor should have experience in all areas of the tattoo industry, such as design, safety practices, and proper sterilization techniques. This will help prepare you for the challenges ahead and give you valuable advice as you progress through your apprenticeship.

2. Learn About Safety and Sterilization Procedures 

When it comes to needle art, safety should always be at the top of your list. Being up-to-date on sterilization and storage protocols is key. Plus, you need to understand which products are necessary for safe practices. Finally, remember that state laws vary regarding tattoos, too – so make sure you know what’s legal.

How to Get a Tattoo Apprenticeship and Tips on Becoming a Tattoo Artist

3. Practice Drawing on Paper and Skin With Your Mentor’s Guidance  

With the fundamentals of safety and sterilization under your belt, it’s time to start getting creative. Your mentor will show you the ropes as you transition from paper designs to bringing them to life on your skin. So go ahead and get some practice in – before long, those tattoos won’t only be ink-credible works of art; they’ll also reflect just how far your skills have come.

Staying informed about trends in tattoos should always be at the top of your priority list. Researching the latest tattoo ideas, designs, styles, and colors is important to stay current. And it doesn’t hurt to brush up on anatomy either – accuracy is key. With all this knowledge in your back pocket, you can create modern and stylish tattoos while still ensuring they look great on the body.

5. Build Up Your Portfolio by Practicing on Friends, Family, or Yourself 

Once you are comfortable drawing on skin, it is time to start building your portfolio so potential clients can see your work. You should practice with friends, family, or even yourself if need be. Be sure to document the process and results of each tattoo you create to show potential employers.

6. Get Licensed in Your State

The final step in the apprenticeship process is to become licensed by your state. Most states have specific qualifications that must be met before a license is issued. Requirements may include taking classes, completing exams, and having your portfolio reviewed. Once you meet these requirements and receive your license, you can start working as a tattoo artist. 

How to Get a Tattoo Apprenticeship and Tips on Becoming a Tattoo Artist

Insights Into Becoming a Tattoo Artist

Now that we’ve covered the details about how to obtain a tattoo apprenticeship let’s talk about what it means to be a tattoo artist.  Here are a few common questions aspiring tattoo artists might ask themselves, and some insights into becoming a tattoo artist.

How Do I Know if I Would Make a Good Tattoo Artist?

Tattoo artists need to have a few key attributes in order to be successful. First and foremost, they need to have an eye for detail. Tattoo artists must be able to create designs that are clean and precise, as even the smallest mistake can ruin a tattoo. They also need to have good people skills, as they will be dealing with customers on a regular basis. Finally, tattoo artists need to be creative, as they will be tasked with creating unique designs for their clients.

Is Being a Tattoo Artist a Hard Job?

Being a tattoo artist is not an easy job. It takes years of practice and a lot of skill to perfect the craft. There are many different styles of tattooing, and each one requires its own set of skills. Tattoo artists must be able to work with all kinds of people, from those who are getting their first tattoo to those who have been heavily inked for years. They must be able to understand each person’s individual needs and desires and translate that into a beautiful piece of art on their skin.

The job can be physically demanding too, as tattoo artists are often on their feet for long periods of time. They must also have a high tolerance for pain, as they will often be pricking themselves with needles while working on clients. In addition, tattoo artists must take precautions to avoid infection, both for themselves and their clients.

Despite all these challenges, being a tattoo artist can be an incredibly rewarding career. Seeing the joy on a client’s face when they see their new tattoo is an indescribable feeling. Knowing that you’ve helped someone permanently express themselves in a way that is unique to them is an amazing feeling. If you have the passion and the talent, then being a tattoo artist is definitely a job worth pursuing.

How to Get a Tattoo Apprenticeship and Tips on Becoming a Tattoo Artist

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Tattoo Artist

What are the different types of tattoo artists?

Different types of tattoo artists include traditional artists, flash artists, and custom artists. Traditional artists specialize in classic designs that are often seen in tattoo shops. Flash artists typically design pre-drawn tattoos that can be chosen by customers. Custom artists create one-of-a-kind designs specifically for each individual client.

What is the difference between a good tattoo artist and a bad tattoo artist?

The difference between a good tattoo artist and a bad tattoo artist is skill level and experience. Good tattoo artists have mastered their craft and can provide their clients with high-quality, detailed work. Bad tattoo artists may rush their work or use inferior equipment, which can result in subpar tattoos.

How much money do tattoo artists make?

Tattoo artists typically charge by the hour, with rates ranging from $50 to $200 per hour. Highly experienced or high-demand artists can charge even more. The final cost of a tattoo also depends on the size and complexity of the design. Many tattoo artists also require a minimum fee for smaller tattoos.

What is the Hardest Part of Becoming a Tattoo Artist?

There are a few things that can make becoming a tattoo artist difficult. Firstly, it might not always be easy to find an apprenticeship. Many tattoo artists get their start by apprenticing under another artist, but this can be difficult to arrange. Secondly, even after completing an apprenticeship, it can be challenging to build up a clientele and establish oneself as a reputable artist. Finally, the tattoo industry is highly competitive, and there are many talented artists out there vying for clients. So if you’re thinking of becoming a tattoo artist, be prepared for some challenges along the way!

Final Thoughts

Becoming a tattoo artist is no easy feat – it takes dedication, hard work, and passion for the craft. However, by understanding the apprenticeship process, you can be sure that you are taking all the necessary steps to become a successful tattoo artist. With an apprenticeship, you will learn from experienced artists who have been in the industry for years, allowing you to develop your skills and gain valuable knowledge. So, if you’ve been considering a career as a tattoo artist, why not take the plunge and see what an apprenticeship can do for you? You won’t regret it. Good luck! (WYS) is a trusted Etsy affiliate & Amazon Associate. We also promote certain products we've tested and approved. As such, the website features sponsored products for Amazon or Etsy or other afiliates. Should you make a purchase from a link on this website, WYS may receive a small commission. This website also hosts advertisements. Please see our policy page for further information. Thank you for your purchases, as it contributes to keeping this website online and running.