8 Ways to Get Experience as a New Tattoo Artist

Did you know that tattoo artists earn an income of $99,956 on average? If you are considering becoming an artist, you should be in it for the love of the art as well. So if tattooing is something you are truly passionate about, keep reading.

This article will explain how you can gain experience as a new tattoo artist.

1. Practice Your Drawing Skills

Artists always practice, even tattoo artists who have worked for years. Drawing on paper is a great exercise, but you want to get the hang of drawing on irregular shapes and textures as you will be working on skin. You can use markers or pens on fruits such as apples and oranges.

You can also apply masking tape to a part of your body, like your leg, and draw on that—first, concentrate on creating solid lines. Then, once you have linework down, move on to shading and other technical aspects.

You can even use fake tattoo practice skin to practice your techniques with a tattoo machine. Practice tattoo skin is a sheet of synthetic material that contours easily to round surfaces. It bounces pack similar to natural skin and comes in various hues.

2. Learn About Licensing Requirements

Becoming a licensed tattoo artist is not an easy process. Depending on your location, you will need training in CPR, first aid certification, OSHA bloodborne pathogens, and take a practical or written examination. Check the requirements according to your state health department or in the area where you plan to work.

Some states require prospective artists to have a high school diploma or equivalent, and you must be at least 18 years old. Training typically lasts between one to five years.

3. Compile Your Portfolio

Your portfolio will be the first thing mentors see. An experienced tattoo artist can pick out technical flaws in a piece within seconds, so you want to make sure you have genuinely honed your skills. However, it takes more than just technical skills to get noticed.

You need to be organized, show consistency in your performance, and display aptitude in various styles. And the most important place to showcase these skills is the front cover. Chose an image in your style and include pieces in popular tattoo styles such as old school or traditional, new school or neo-traditional, realism, script, black & gray, and geometric.

The pages can be as small or large as you would like, and the layout is your choice. It is generally advised to have between fifty and two hundred pages, but make sure you do not overwhelm the person viewing your portfolio. Lastly, consider creating an online companion site and include your link.

4. Save Up for High-Quality Supplies

Have you heard the saying, “A person is only as good as their tools?” Well, there is some merit to this adage. First, however, you need to save up for high-quality tattoo equipment to perform at your best.

To begin, you will need a tattoo machine and its requisite parts. The parts are interchangeable, and tattoo guns are even buildable by hand, but as a beginner, it is best to go with a kit. Guns can use a coil, motor, or pneumatic power, and each responds a little differently.

The machine runs with the aid of a power supply, foot pedal, and clip cord. You can expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars for your initial equipment.

5. Practice Keeping a Sanitary Work Station

Needles should never be reused. Similarly, keep these sterilization supplies to ensure a hygiene workspace:

  • Disinfectant
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Medical waste disposal container
  • Latex gloves
  • Medical grade scissors
  • Plastic covers for your machine
  • Germicide disinfectant soaking solution
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Sterile bandages or wraps

6. Study Experienced Tattoo Artists

Studying tattoo work by others who have been in the industry for a while or even new artists in apprenticeships is a great way to see new methods while you are learning to tattoo.

You may want to look into some noteworthy tattoo artists like Mars Hobrecker, Miya Bailey, Gerhard Wiesbeck, Chris Nunez, and Frank Carriho. Learn about the machines they use, what styles they specialize in, and what tips they may have to offer.

Additionally, take a moment to explore and follow topics on social media platforms like Instagram, Tik Tok, and Twitter.

7. Look for a Tattoo Artist Apprenticeship

Securing a tattoo apprenticeship can be difficult for even the most talented artists. During an apprenticeship, you are expected to learn about tattooing techniques, working with tattoo machines, maintaining a sterile environment, creating visual effects and designs, and understanding value, linework, composition, and texture. Before becoming licensed, you will need to train for a certain amount of hours.

When looking for an apprenticeship, make sure the artist you aim to study under has taught others before. Look into their work and see what their careers have been like since becoming licensed. Consider reaching out to learn about their experience.

You can choose to have one-on-one training with a single artist or take classes taught by professionals. A tattoo school requires strict attendance, but courses do not take as long as a traditional apprenticeship. If you are interested in this option, you can read more here.

8. Create Flash Sheets

Tattoo flash sheets are a must-have for any new tattoo artist. Flash sheets are typically standard-sized pages of pre-drawn images. They generally are advertised for a flat rate depending on the size, amount of color, and length of time expected to go into the piece.

Clients who are unsure of what they want or need a little direction can base their ideas on flash sheet images. Tattoo parlors may also run specials on days such as Friday the 13th, and Halloween, offering only flash tattoos. It is an excellent way to get yourself established with new people and show off some of your skills.

A Tattoo Artist Education is Essential

Getting a proper education is indispensable when learning how to tattoo and gaining experience as a new tattoo artist. You can go with an apprenticeship or take advantage of all a tattoo school has to offer. Want to read more articles like this?

Take a look at the rest of our blog for more career & life advice!


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