How to Become a Professional Tattoo Artist

tips for becoming an amazing artist for tattoos

In order to become a professional tattoo artist, you must first go through an apprenticeship program.  If you have applied to be an apprentice before, you may have discovered that not many apprenticeship opportunities are available. To increase your chances of being accepted into an apprentice program, it is highly recommended that you are already a skilled artist, and while not necessary, an art-based education will certainly work in your favor.

You will need to build a portfolio with more than twenty completed works of art. You should never walk into a shop with a handful of sketches and incomplete drawings. Compile your best work in a clean portfolio that demonstrates a broad range of artistic ability. Presentation is very important because it shows how serious you are about getting your apprenticeship. Make sure that it is a shop that you would be excited to learn from.  If your desired shop declines to offer you an apprenticeship, you should leave your contact info with them just in case an apprenticeship opportunity becomes available in the future. Research other shops, but periodically visit your choices over the coming months to see if an opportunity has become available.

Most shops will require you to pay for training. and may also require you to devote a certain amount of time each week to training. You should not expect to do any tattooing practice in the beginning because that time will primarily be devoted to cleaning the shop and observing the procedures of the other artists. It is important that you use that time to ask questions so that you can absorb as much information as possible.  Traditionally the apprentice will study under the mentor for many years to become a real tattoo artist. Some aspiring artists will start with home tattooing (scratcher) so they can practice on friends’ skin before they do a real tattoo. The problem is, not only is this not sanitary for you and your friends, but it will also cause you to pick up many bad habits while performing the home tattoo’s. For example, you may grab things that are unsanitary with your gloved hand and then touch the skin without changing your glove. Once you develop a habit like that it is hard to change.  Also, you may develop a bad reputation as a tattoo artist because you will present your imperfect work that was done before you became a skilled tattoo artist. A few bad tattoos you completed early on can haunt you for the rest of your career.

When you go through an apprenticeship program, the your mentor who trains you will not allow you to do a real tattoo until he is confident that you are ready to do it. Until that time, you will practice on paper or synthetic skin to refine your skill and technique. Any experienced artist will tell you how important it is to sharpen your skills because, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect. There is always an expectation that you demonstrate that you are consistent and reliable, otherwise the tattoo apprenticeship may need to be discontinued or delayed. The most important thing, aside from a natural artistic ability, is to make sure you have passion for the art of tattooing. With the right combination of passion and talent you will be able to succeed in the tattoo industry. 

If you are a talented artist, who seeks to transfer your skills to the art of tattooing, I suggest you contact Ocean Blue Tattoo Studio and speak to them about a possible apprenticeship opportunity, or visit them at



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