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You love creating artistic images, sketching, or painting but not sure what sort of career is best for you. Maybe you could manage art galleries, or work as a freelance designer sketching ideas for various projects. You could even make a professional website and sell your art. These are your common options and to be honest, the competition is tough and you might find it hard to establish yourself as a professional artist.

You want something that’s new, fresh off the block, a profession that could define you as a person. Though the art of tattooing has been around for thousands of years, the art form is only recently receiving the limelight that it truly deserves.

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Right now you have many questions in your mind, ‘How to become a tattoo artist’, 'How long does it take to get a license’ or ‘how long does it take to become a tattoo artist?' We understand all your queries and more. This article will help you answer some of the key questions you’ll come across en route to being a tattoo artist.

  • What does a tattoo artist do?
  • How to become a tattoo artist?
  • How to get a tattooing license?
  • How long does it take to get a tattoo license?
  • What basic tattooing equipment do I need to have?
  • Where can I work as a tattoo artist?
  • How to build an online brand as a tattoo artist?

What Does a Tattoo Artist Do?

Tattooing is considered an age-old form of body modification where ink is used to create permanent designs or images. A Tattoo artist designs the tattoo and applies it to the customers’ skin using specialized needles.

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How to Become a Tattoo Artist?

Well, there isn’t a formal tattoo degree that you finish and get to work as a tattoo artist, there are some key aspects that will help you become a tattoo artist.

1. Develop Your Skills

If you want to learn how to become a tattoo artist, you first need to know how to sketch. You might be a good artist already but you need to practice and master your art and design skills. Though a degree is an add-on to your repertoire, it’s your skills as an artist that can determine your professional career as a tattoo artist.

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Drawing on the skin isn't the same as drawing on canvas or other materials. You need to have a steady hand if you want to become a professional tattoo artist. You can start by drawing cartoon characters and animated images to get a grip on your sketching skills.

2. Get Formal Art Training

Fine-tuning your skills is one side of the story, you would still need to get formal art training, preferably in a reputed art school for tattoo artist training. Though a degree isn’t a requirement to becoming a tattoo artist, a school for tattoo artist training can teach you specific skills and age-old techniques that you might not have come across.

The degree will not only teach you how to become a tattoo artist but also help you establish a professional portfolio. It’s a good way to understand the natural skills that you already possess and learn some new ones along the way.

You probably have a tattooing style of your own but learning other styles improves your tattooing range. It can also help you generate more clients and improve your tattoo artist business. If you can’t get a degree specifically for tattoo artists, you can also look for other programs such as graphic design, illustration, digital arts, etc. These are also good platforms to start your professional career.

3. Apply For a Tattoo Apprenticeship

The best way to learn how to become a tattoo artist is by becoming an apprentice under a tattoo artist. Find the best tattoo artist in town and ask if they offer tattoo apprenticeships. Most tattoo artists are constantly looking for extra help, so it shouldn’t be hard finding one. Be sure of the tattoo artist’s profile before you join. You want to work under someone to gain professional knowledge and not because you have nothing better to do.


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Make the most of your apprenticeship. Again, practice is key. You might not be allowed to start tattooing clients the moment you join. Be patient and develop your skills. Try to gain as much practical knowledge as you can because after this you might have to tattoo on your own without anyone to supervise.

How to Get a Tattooing License?

After you’ve understood how to become a tattoo artist, you can focus on getting your license.

The licensing requirements can differ based on where you’re planning to learn how to become a tattoo artist. You can apply at your local department by filling out a form and paying a fee.

You will generally be required to work under a licensed tattoo artist for a given amount of time, say 400 hours, or a fixed number of tattoos. You may be required to take a written exam that tests your basic knowledge of tattooing, the equipment, and safety precautions, followed by a demonstration of your skills.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Tattoo License?

You’re anxious about how long it would take for you to get a license and start your career as a tattoo artist. Don’t worry. According to Chapter 120, Florida Statutes, the decision of granting a license must be completed within 3 months. And if there aren’t a lot of applications, you’re likely to get it sooner.

Do I Need Any Additional Certification to Work as a Tattoo Artist?

As you’ll be working on people with realistic chances of accidents and mishaps, it’s advised that you take up additional certification to support your license. You may be required to be certified in avoiding the spread of communicable diseases, skin diseases, and blood-borne pathogens.

What Basic Tattooing Equipment Do I Need to Have?

Tattoo artist tools are precious to a tattoo artist. You are expected to have your own kit even if you’re working in a tattoo shop. And remember, your personal tattoo toolkit is what you’re comfortable with. You don’t have to follow what someone else does when you’re not comfortable. So choose the tattoo gun, ink, and other equipment that you are comfortable using.

Your toolkit should have the following;

  • Two tattoo guns
  • Tubes and grips
  • Sterile needles (Keep a range of different size)
  • Green cleaning soap,
  • Spray bottles,
  • Small plastic cups for ink,
  • Gloves,
  • Tissues

I’m a Qualified Tattoo Artist. What's Next?

You’ve diligently followed all the steps of how to become a tattoo artist and have received your license as well. So what do you do next?

Well, the best thing to do is to continue working as an employee where you worked as an apprentice. You will need all the experience you can get, so working in a tattoo shop or a body modification shop would be a good option. You could look for other tattoo artist jobs in local listings and get to work under someone reputed.

The other thing you could do is set up your own studio. You don’t need much. You have your tattooing equipment and your skills. You can just rent a place and start by yourself. But keep this for when you’ve had the experience of maintaining a business and getting the tattooing work done.

The important thing about becoming a successful tattoo artist is that you need to market your skills. People need to know who they should go to if they need to get a kickass tattoo. Word of mouth can help sell your business, but it needs a digital push to really make it travel.

How to Build an Online Brand as a Tattoo Artist?

Now let’s move on from how to become a tattoo artist to how you can build an online brand. If you want the world to know how good a tattoo artist you are, you’ll need to have a digital collection of your work - A tattoo artist’s portfolio. Unless you don’t do it already, you need to click pictures of your work and organize it. Once you have your collection you can start marketing yourself on the internet and make a name for yourself.

You have to build your brand around your unique selling point. And the best way to build an online brand for a tattoo artist is to set up a personal website. Think of it as an online shop, where clients can do everything they could if they were to visit your personal studio. And it’s not that difficult to make.


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You have website builders, like Strikingly who offer free website templates which you can use to build a professional website. You could build any type of website you’d like with the range of custom templates built for specific types of roles.

Being a tattoo artist we could imagine how simple it would be for you to personalize a template. But let us just walk you through some key steps you’ll need to follow before you could get your hands on a free website template and start building your killer tattoo website.

1. Choose a Website Builder

The choice of website builder will depend on your specific requirements. You could go for a high-end website builder but they may not have a plan that suits your budget. As you’re just starting your business you could go for a website builder that suits start-up businesses or personal profiles such as Strikingly. We offer the best prices and plans for a range of different business requirements that are suited to give you maximum benefit.

2. Create an Account

To start creating your website, you’ll have to sign up with the website builder. At Strikingly, you can sign up at no cost at all and directly begin personalizing a web template you like.

3. Customize the Template

Once you've signed up you can directly go to choosing the template that suits your style and personality. Editing the template is child’s play. You have all the required pages, buttons, designs, etc readily available. You just need to add the required custom option to your web page and decide if you want to keep it or not. Strikingly offers you a range of customizable web templates that are easy to use and personalize.

4. Publish Your Website

Website builders usually offer a preview of the website you’ve built. This is to make sure that it’s come out just the way you want it. If you’re happy with what you see, you can go ahead and publish the website.

5. Register a Domain

The final step to get your website live is to register a domain name. This is the name that your website will be known as on the internet. If you have a studio, you could go with that name or come up with something creative. Once you register your domain, your website will be visible to the entire world and you can start building your brand on the internet.

We hope that all your questions on how to become a tattoo artist have been answered. The steps described here are an introduction on how to create a tattoo website. For more details on how to set up a website for your tattoo artist business, you can read our blog on how to set up a portfolio website.

There is no ‘How to Become a Tattoo Artist Rule book which you can read and to become a tattoo artist. Like every other art form, it develops with practice and dedication. If you’re not sure if this is the right career for you, you can join an online drawing class and start drawing by yourself. Tattooing is art, but that doesn’t mean you can only succeed with talent. With the right amount of commitment and the right platform, you can become one of the best tattoo artists in town.