In the past few years, tattoo culture has begun to change in unexpected ways. Now that it is commonplace for people to have tattoos, like more than 20% of the adults in the U.S., the creative envelope is continually being pushed. Many parlors have long since deviated from American or Japanese traditional tattoo styles to pioneer new styles, like new school tattoo art, or creating body art that looks like watercolor painting, illustrations or etchings, and exploring photo realism or surrealism.To become a tattoo artist is to enter into one of the oldest, most personal and quickly growing creative fields in the world. The tattoo art world is competitive, but is exploding with innovation and creativity, and could be the perfect place for budding artists to channel their efforts.
1. Develop a portfolio
You won’t be a very successful tattoo artist if nobody wants to have your art on their skin forever. Developing a solid art portfolio can prove to future employers or clients that you have the technical know-how, knowledge of design principles and good taste it takes to become an apprentice tattoo artist. After all, tattoos are born first to a sheet of paper by the strokes of an artist’s pen. Your portfolio could be helpful later on when applying for jobs or to apply to tattoo art school.
2. Find a apprenticeship
By apprenticing at a licensed tattoo parlor, aspiring artists get a chance to see the business side of things, customer and artist interactions, get advice and pointers from more experienced artists, build a network of connections and truly immerse themselves in tattoo culture. Becoming a tattoo apprentice is excellent training, as most apprentices are allowed to do some “fill” on tattoos in the shop, eventually working up to simple line-work and small, simple tattoos. The key to gathering experience as a tattoo artist is to do it slowly and incrementally.
3. Enroll in some courses
Attending a tattoo art school can not only offer some technical and design principles that are helpful and important, but offer instruction on important safety and sanitation polices that are required by state law. A solid knowledge of these measures can help you build a strong practice later as an independently operating artist. Additionally, if you feel that your base of knowledge has some gaps, many a tattoo art school will have courses to fill it.
4. Get your licence
There are an estimated 21,000 tattoo parlors in the U.S., and a huge market for creative design and experimentation. With one in five people American adults having at least one tattoo, business doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Once you are licensed by the state to tattoo, all it takes is finding customers who like your art and employers who are willing to hire you, or figuring out a way to add to the number of parlors and open your own.