What Degree Do You Need to Be a Tattoo Artist?

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What Degree Do You Need to Be a Tattoo Artist?

A job as a tattoo artist may be right for you if you’re a highly creative person who appreciates art and design, enjoys dealing with others, and wants to create meaningful work that will last a lifetime. Becoming a tattoo artist requires years of dedication and hard work, but it can lead to a rewarding career. In this article, we’ll talk about what a tattoo artist is, what they do, and how you may get started as a tattoo artist.

What Exactly Is a Tattoo Artist?

A tattoo artist is a professional who creates body art by tattooing people’s bodies with permanent images, designs, and inscriptions. This is accomplished by injecting ink into their skin with specialized needles. Each tattoo artist has their unique procedure, but most begin by sketching the desired image on paper, then creating a stencil if necessary, and then executing the artwork on the skin. Tattoo artists have a great level of artistic ability, originality, and precision.

Now, let’s understand,

What Exactly Do Tattoo Artists Do?

Tattoo artists collaborate closely with customers to create tattoo designs that might include basic or complicated images, patterns, or inscriptions that are permanently applied to the client’s body. Clients frequently come to tattoo artists with an idea or specific design in mind and collaborate with the artist to produce a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork. If a client does not already have a concept in mind, tattoo artists can supply design books filled with tattoo ideas in their distinct styles. The process can take hours or possibly numerous sessions to finish depending on the design.

Now, as you have seen what exactly a tattoo artist is and what they do, you can start your career; for that, you must go through the below steps.

Obtain Formal Art Training

Some tattoo artists undergo professional training by obtaining a fine arts degree from a university, attending a series of classes, or participating in relevant workshops. Formal art education can offer you in-depth knowledge of design concepts as well as the opportunity to practice making art for a wide range of applications. Formal instruction might also provide you with the opportunity to hone your drawing skills and grow as an artist.

Learn the Fundamentals of Design

Learning basic artistic standards can help you gain a strong understanding of numerous design aspects and how they interact with one another. This is particularly useful when making complicated designs and tattooing someone who already has tattoos. Tattooing covers many different levels of design aspects; therefore, knowing as many as possible can help you apply these ideas to enhance your skill set and ability to create high-quality tattoos. Design components that are important to consider include:

Lines, Shape, Color, Texture, Value, Balance, Alignment, Repetition, Proximity, Contrast, and Space.

Improve Your Drawing Abilities

Having a natural talent for drawing might be advantageous, but consistent practice is required to develop your tattooing ability. Designing and creating various designs and styles of artwork on a regular basis. It’s normal, to begin with, a pencil and work your way up to permanent ink. It takes time to discover your own talents and the distinction between what you can sketch and what you can tattoo. When you’re initially starting out, it’s vital to practice simple designs.

Create a Portfolio

Creating a portfolio is essential when beginning your career as a tattoo artist because it helps prospective mentors and employers swiftly examine your work and determine if they are interested in your specific art style. Your portfolio should be professional and eye-catching, and it should include your greatest drawings and tattoo ideas. Many tattoo artists show their work in binders with sheet protectors. Include work that demonstrates your flexibility as an artist, such as dark and bright paintings.

Look for a Mentor

Finding a mentor is one approach to obtain practical experience implementing what you’ve learned in a professional situation. You want to select a mentor who works at a respectable tattoo shop, has years of tattooing experience, and whose tattooing style attracts you. Bring your portfolio to local tattoo studios or individual artists you want to work with to see if they will mentor you.

Obtain an Apprenticeship

Professional tattooing necessitates first finishing an apprenticeship. You can begin your apprenticeship with any previous mentors you’ve had, as well as any tattoo shops that provide apprenticeships. It’s critical to conduct research on the store where you wish to apprentice, which includes looking at each artist’s portfolio as well as vital data about their shop.

Apprenticeships provide essential insight into tattoo design, tattoo machine operation, tattoo equipment sterilization, and other sanitary standards. They can also help you grasp the business side of running and owning a tattoo shop.

Obtain Certification

In order to qualify for licensing in your state or country, you may be required to complete particular training courses and achieve certain certifications. As a tattoo artist, you must follow rigorous health and safety requirements. Therefore any compulsory courses will most likely focus on disease control and management, as well as health and safety guidelines and protocols.

A bloodborne pathogen certification, for example, is often carried by tattoo artists because it teaches how to prevent bloodborne diseases from spreading, which is crucial in assuring the tattoo artist’s and their client’s safety.

Obtain a License

The regulations for tattoo licenses differ depending on where you live. The number of apprenticeship hours you must complete, as well as the certifications or health and safety courses you must take, is determined by your state. Some states additionally need first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. You must pass the exam and pay a fee to gain licensure.


Consistent practice is essential for improving your tattoo design and tattooing abilities. Some individuals advise working on fruit, such as oranges, while others advise practicing on synthetic skin for more exact work on shading, perfecting clean lines, and steadiness.

While all practice is beneficial in honing your skills, nothing beats tattooing on humans. It can be the finest way to gain experience if you have friends or relatives who are willing to allow you to use them as a canvas. Tattoo artists frequently provide free or highly reduced tattoos when they first start out to gain experience tattooing on people.

Continue Your Education for Professional Advancement

To renew their license, some states require tattoo artists to complete a certain number of continuing education courses. Seminars and classes are provided as forms of continuing education.

Joining a professional organization, such as the APT or the Association of Professional Tattoo Artists, can give a tattoo artist a number of continuing education alternatives as well as industry networking opportunities. Some organizations, for example, offer services that connect potential consumers to tattoo artists’ online portfolios and run contests to help artists perfect their skills.

What Certifications Are Required For Tattoo Artists?

Tattoo artists must obtain a variety of certificates in order to assure the safety and health of all parties involved. The state you live in may have specific criteria for training hours or certification courses, but there are also globally recognized qualifications. These certifications may include:

Pre-licensing certification: Before applying for your tattoo license, you may need to complete a few different certification courses. The major certification relates to bloodborne infections and is necessary for all tattoo business staff.

License: After completing an apprenticeship, you are eligible to apply for tattoo artist licensure. This usually entails documentation and a minor fee, and each state has different regulations for tattoo licenses.

Renewals of licenses: Some states may require you to continue learning about tattooing by renewing your license every few years. This may ensure that you stay current on crucial aspects of art, tattooing, sanitation, and client safety.

How Long Does It Take to Learn How to Be a Tattoo Artist?

The amount of time it takes to become a licensed, practicing tattoo artist varies depending on your region, talents, and educational background. Many tattoo parlors urge that you take part in an apprenticeship. These work assignments often last one to five years, depending on where you work, state restrictions, and skill level. An apprenticeship entails learning tattooing skills and is usually unpaid. After completing an apprenticeship, you may apply for a tattoo license. Although your license may need to be renewed every few years, once you have it, you are ready to begin practicing.

What Abilities Are Advantageous to Tattoo Artists?

There are numerous talents that might help you succeed as a tattoo artist. Some of these abilities could include:


To be a successful tattoo artist, you must have imagination and artistic talent. Because tattoos are permanent, having artistic ability may assist you in providing a product that consumers enjoy. Some clients may want that you create a tattoo for them, which necessitates your originality and ingenuity. The majority of a tattoo artist’s profession is the development, design, and application of art to a client’s body. The artist’s creative ability may aid in the development of a strong portfolio or the expansion of their client base.

Paying Close Attention to Detail

Because everybody and tattoo are unique, paying attention to detail is essential to ensuring that your work is authentic. Attention to detail guarantees that the design you produce is replicated on the client’s body. Because the process entails numerous processes, tattoo artists who can pay close attention to detail may be able to provide a well-rounded and efficient tattooing experience. Aside from tattooing, artists must sterilize the room, prepare the client’s skin for the tattoo, and suggest an appropriate cleaning program for clients to care for their new tattoo.

Interpersonal Abilities

Tattoo artists frequently spend a significant amount of time with tattoo clients. These specialists must have interpersonal skills in order to ease fears, have a discussion, and interact with clients throughout the procedure. Some clients, for example, desire huge tattoos that take several hours to finish. They may need to return to the same artist for numerous sessions in order to finish the piece completely. This necessitates the artist engaging the client, keeping them interested throughout the process, or providing reassurance about the tattoo’s progress.

Communication Abilities

Communication is another key ability for tattoo artists. When dealing with a potential client, the artist must convey the price, timing, availability, and quality of their tattoo talents to guarantee that they obtain a tattoo that they are happy with. Artists may also connect with their colleagues to ensure that each client is assigned to the artist most qualified to create their desired tattoo.

How Much Does a Tattoo Artist Make?

A tattoo artist’s annual pay in the United States is $56,503. This can differ depending on the artist’s region or skill level. Furthermore, if the artist has a well-known reputation, he or she may demand a larger price for each tattoo. This might lead to a bigger annual compensation as well as larger tips from each client. If an artist has a number of recurrent clients, their yearly compensation may be affected as well.

What Are Some Benefits of Becoming a Tattoo Artist?

Typically, Employers Do Not Demand a Degree.

Many workplaces demand a high school certificate or GED to work as a tattoo artist. You could choose to enroll in a tattoo artist training school to hone your abilities and get experience. To gain a position, many tattoo artists leverage their portfolio of past tattoos or sketching experience, so you may not need to complete an educational program. This can help you save money, and you may be able to begin your career as a tattoo artist sooner because businesses do not require you to first get a degree.

Improve Your Creative Abilities.

Working as a tattoo artist allows you to hone your creative abilities because your clients may request a variety of designs, colors, and styles. Some clients may request that you develop a one-of-a-kind design, which allows you to put your design knowledge and creative ability to use. Using your creative skills may reduce the likelihood that you will feel uninspired at work and may make your job appear more engaging.

Collaborate With a Wide Range of People.

Tattoo artists frequently work with a diverse range of clients. If you enjoy interacting with customers and meeting new people, working as a tattoo artist allows you to communicate with a large number of people. It is common for a tattoo piece to take many hours to complete, allowing you to converse with clients and learn more about them. You might find out why they want a tattoo, as well as information about their past or previous experiences with tattoos or tattoo artists.

Start a Business.

You could obtain expertise as a tattoo artist if you want to pursue a job where you can establish a business and lead a corporation. Tattoo artists frequently create their own tattoo shops after gaining adequate tattooing experience. When you start your own shop, you have complete control over tattoo pricing and retail elements such as decorations and tattoo visual displays. After starting your own firm, you can either entice old consumers or make marketing to attract new customers.

Give Meaningful Tattoos to Your Customers.

Clients frequently seek tattoos with a strong emotional impact or a deep meaning. They may get a tattoo in memory of a friend or family member, or they may get a tattoo that represents their interests or hobbies. You might give your clients a significant tattoo that will leave a mark on them. This could assist you in having a rewarding and meaningful career.

A Favorable Working Environment.

When choosing a career, the work environment is a crucial consideration. Tattoo artists frequently work inside tattoo parlors, where they sit for extended periods of time while creating tattoos. A tattoo shop’s environment is typically upbeat since clients and tattoo artists collaborate to create a meaningful design, and they may engage in pleasant conversation while the tattooing is taking place.

So this is all you need to know to become a tattoo artist; we hope that you have found this article helpful. You must read this post completely and choose your career as a Tattoo Artist.

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Indu has been educator since last 10 years. She can find all kind of scholarship opportunities in the USA and beyond. She also teach college courses online to help students become better. She is one of the very rare scholarship administrator and her work is amazing.