So you think you want to be at tattoo artist? You had better be good at it; there is a whole lot of pressure involved. People are going to be paying you quite a bit of money to apply a design to their skin that not only has deep sentimental value to them, but is going to be there for the rest of their lives whether you do a good job or not. There’s no one way to become a tattooist, but there are probably some ways that are better than others. Let’s take a look at what’s available out there and weigh the options.
1. Apprenticing – involves working along side a experienced, professional tattoo artist in a functioning shop. It’s a good way to not only learn the art, but learn the business as well. It would be hands on experience. You would have the chance to learn by actually doing instead of just reading about it. They probably aren’t going to train you for free, but if you don’t have the money, there’s a couple of different ways to work it out. You could do some work around the shop, like clean up and empty the trash, a to cover the costs If you have some other kind of skill to offer, you can do that in trade, like keeping the books or doing in their taxes. You might even be able to work out a combination of these ideas.
2. Academic Schooling – When you’re talking about putting something permanent into people’s skin they will carry everywhere they go for the rest of their lives, it’s not enough to know how, you have to be able to produce the results. Most people don’t just pick up a tat gun one day and decide to be a tattooist. Most of them started off with natural talent that they worked to develop over the course of their lives. Many have a degree in some art-related field. So, at least taking some art classes would give you a foundation to start from.
3. Books, Tapes, etc – Think about it. You could cosmetically mutilate for life if you don’t have the proper training. It may be entirely possible come out of such a course they best tattooist who ever lived, but would you go to a doctor who learned how to perform surgery over the Internet? These materials may be a great place to get some extra information, but if it’s the only experience you have, you should come with a warning sign.
4. Tattoo Courses – Most people feel more comfortable with the courses that require them to actually show up somewhere on a regular basis and actually interact with an instructor, and actually touch the equipment. Your future clients will probably feel better about that too. However, despite the previous warning about correspondence courses, not every single one of them is a sham. If you chose to go this route, be sure to check them out with the Better Business Bureau in your area. The only ones worth checking into will still have an apprenticeship program and put you straight on track to receive a legitimate tattoo license in your state upon graduation from the course. That goes for any method of training you choose. You also need to know things about sterilization, pathogens and blood-borne diseases, so a course in microbiology wouldn’t hurt either.
Learning to tattoo is a huge commitment, and you need to have some realistic expectations. Just reading a book, watching a video and picking up a tattoo gun isn’t going to make you a tattooist. It takes practice and dedication. Even if you are the most artistically talented tattoo artist this is that’s no guarantee you are going to be a success. There’s more to it than that. You have to have some business sense, and know how to manage finances, staff and marketing.