become a tattoo artist or apprentice

So You Want to Be a Tattoo Artist?

5shades Tattoos

If you’ve ever spent any time talking to a tattoo artist, they’ll all pretty much say the same thing… it’s not really “work” to them. They get to listen to music, hang out with all kinds of different people, and draw all day—and get paid for it! I mean, really…does it get any better than that?

That’s not to say the job is a complete walk in the park. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and hours upon hundreds of hours to learn the practice and fine tune your artistic skill set. Not to mention, you deal with the public… so you’re always bound to run into a tough customer here and there.

But, even with the amount of effort one has to put in to learn the craft, it’s still one of the best jobs you can snag.

So how does one go about becoming at tattoo artist? Well, to help set fledglings on the right path, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about becoming a tattoo artist. Check it out.

Do I Need a High School Diploma?
When it comes to being a tattoo artist, the only real requirement is talent. It is not necessarily required that you have a high school diploma or any formal art training. Generally, potential artists are accepted by an experienced tattoo artist as apprentices long before they’re allowed to touch real human skin with a machine. Having particular certifications or diplomas won’t increase your chances of getting the apprenticeship, nor will not having them decrease your chances. However, a majority of the top artists in the industry have studied art in formal settings at some point in time. This is not to say everyone has, some have a natural talent or study via videos and books.

How Do I Make a Portfolio?
When it comes to securing an apprenticeship, or later on an actual position, your portfolio is the key. A portfolio will show prospective employers who you are and what you can do. It should showcase your tattooing skills, your strengths, and your passions. Make sure it is professional in appearance, as just showing off a few loose-leaf sheets of paper won’t give off a very good first impression.

Who Regulates Tattoo Apprenticeships?
When it comes to the tattoo industry, there is no regulating body of government or licensing officials regulating tattoo apprenticeships. It’s important when you’re seeking out a shop to apprentice in that you do your own research. Just because a tattoo shop or tattoo artist is offering an apprenticeship, doesn’t mean they are the best shop to learn from. Do your due diligence—check reviews, talk to others in the industry, and verify they have all the appropriate licenses. Where you learn can have a huge affect on how—and what—you learn.

How Long Do I Have to Apprentice For?
The length of time in which you apprentice can vary by how much time you have to dedicate to the apprenticeship and which shop/artist you are apprenticing under. It also depends on your learning speed. Some people learn faster than others, and that’s okay. An apprenticeship will take as long as it needs to take until both you and your artist feel 100% comfortable. For some, this may be as short as eight months; for others, it can take up to three years.