A tattoo artist is a person who makes incredibly beautiful paintings on people's skin. Since ancient times, people wanted to decorate their bodies and now it has acquired the status of a profession.
Working as a tattoo artist involves perseverance and communication with people. You will need to be able to find an approach to each client. Since applying for a tattoo is quite painful, you need to calm the person down and instill confidence in your person.
Before becoming a tattoo artist, you need to assess your financial capabilities. At first, a significant investment is required before the training, equipment, and materials can pay off, and you acquire a skill that can later generate income.
One of the essential aspects is drawing skills. This is the main and basic skill of a future specialist. Therefore, before creating a drawing on a human body, you must be able to do it on paper.
You can create a portfolio and place sketches of future tattoos in it. It is essential to show your versatility and versatility as an artist in your portfolio. In the future, the portfolio will serve as a visiting card of the master. It will be replenished with new sketches and will demonstrate the artist's capabilities to potential clients. Accordingly, the more unique works in the portfolio, the larger the tattoo artist’s client audience can get.
What should a tattoo artist know?
In addition to the obvious things like drawing skills, a professional tattoo artist must:
- Be well versed in tattoos and know their meaning;
- Be able to find a common language with the client and understand what exactly he needs;
- Own a variety of tattoo styles;
- Have an idea of artistic composition, have a good imagination, and have an aesthetic taste.
Most often, a tattoo first appears on paper in the form of a sketch and then is finalized by a master according to the client’s wishes. However, there is also a second freehand method. In this case, the tattoo artist draws immediately on the client's body, having only an approximate image of the future tattoo in his head. Sometimes, if the drawing is complex, it takes several sessions.
The tattoo artist has to work as a psychologist in some way and dissuade clients from tasteless and meaningless tattoos, from overly complex elements or large-scale drawings, which will then be difficult to bring together.
The pros and cons of being a tattoo artist
There are pros and cons to being a tattoo artist that you should be aware of before you start learning.
Pros of becoming a tattoo artist
The significant disadvantages:
How much can a tattoo artist earn?
Of all types of employment, the tattoo artist stands out very much regarding earnings and ease of work. If you know how to draw well and love to do it literally in a year, you can reach a fairly high income. Previously, a tattoo was paid based on size. The work of a tattoo artist is now most often evaluated hourly, less often for the result. The second option is usually used for simple and small drawings or vice versa for large and very complex tasks. In addition, every artist has a minimum, below which he simply will not work, even if the tattoo is simple and small.
The hour of work of a tattoo artist depends on his experience and workload and, to a lesser extent, on the region. If the master is good and famous, but he lives in a small town, he may well set himself a price comparable to the prices of large studios. Tattooing is not a simple service; not every master will make a good drawing for you, so they usually do not save on it.
Now to the numbers:
- One hour of work costs at least $ 40-45 (for an average master).
- Masters with extensive experience who will take on work of any complexity and any volume work more expensively, approximately in the range of $ 60-800 per hour.
The most talented professionals widely known outside their city, whose schedule is tightly scheduled for several months in advance, set their prices individually. Usually, they are around the $ 100 per hour mark, but they can also exceed it.
How to Become a Tattoo Artist?
The most important thing that no tattoo artist can work without is drawing. If you do not know how to do this, take a tattoo machine in your hands. The better you can draw, the more experience you have, the more techniques and styles you possess, the more prospects you will have in this profession, and the more money you can earn. Therefore, first of all, you should learn to draw.
First, let's take a look at the steps to becoming a tattoo artist. This will help you not only correctly plan actions but also speed up the whole process. So, here's how to become a tattoo artist from scratch:
- Get a quality education. Many believe that you can become a tattoo artist with only an innate talent, but this is not the case. You need to graduate from tattoo school to receive a master's certificate.
- Experience should be gained. After all, a person who draws well on paper does not mean doing the same on the body. Therefore, you will have to fill your hand for a few more months to achieve perfect possession of the machine after graduation.
- You need to find a suitable place to work. In this case, the choice comes down to only two main areas of tattoo shops or work from home.
- And finally, you will need to create your unique style. Indeed, there are many good masters, but only a few are considered unsurpassed. And it is to them that visitors line up in kilometer lines.
What education do you need for a tattoo artist?
Many masters, even those who are famous outside their country, learned the art of tattooing on their own. Such education will be useful in this matter:
Ideally, complete a full course of study at an art school. Those who studied in such an institution in childhood are lucky; they practically have a ready-made, highly paid specialty of a tattoo artist.
Of course, this is not about studying to be a dentist or a surgeon. But the nurse's courses will be very useful; they teach them how to properly disinfect the skin and tools and take care of wounds.
You can also take courses from an experienced tattoo artist (working at home or in the studio) to avoid wasting time looking for helpful information. Now such training is offered by many masters. They can teach various things from styles and trends in tattooing to varieties and rules for choosing equipment. You can choose the topic of training yourself, depending on what you already know and what you want to understand. Such courses are quite expensive; they can ask for several hundred dollars for 10-20 hours of classes. They can be passed not only for beginners. Also, these courses are for those who want to master some new style since there are a lot of directions now, and each has its nuances of work.
Various exhibitions dedicated to tattooing will also help to develop.
Machines and pigments for a tattoo artist
When the skills of drawing on paper are honed to perfection, it is time to get acquainted with the main brushes and paints of the tattoo artist, that is, tattoo machine and pigments. Tattoo machines are divided into two types:
The vibrations of the needle are formed due to the phenomenon of electromagnetic induction. They are most often used to form contours; since they have a high operating frequency, they allow you to make straight and clear lines.
The needle moves due to the work of an electric motor and an eccentric, which converts the rotational movements of the motor into translational ones. The operating frequency is lower; the machine is ideal for filling large areas with paint, shading, color transitions.
A good craftsman needs both of these machines since the scope of their application is somewhat different. Shading with an induction machine is a real torment, as well as an attempt to form a clear outline with a rotary device.
Pigments are used as paints. You should not save on them; it is better to trust the products of well-known world brands. This statement, however, is true for all equipment of the tattoo artist. There is a lot of equipment from China on the Internet, but reviews about reliability, convenience, functionality, and overall quality are quite negative. Better to overpay for a branded product.
Needles also need to be purchased. Various diameters, the configuration of options, there are many of them. For the smallest details, the finest needles are used, for lines, larger options, and for shading products, the working part resembles a comb or brush. This allows large volumes of pigment to be driven under the skin in one pass, which speeds up the process and reduces pain for the client.
Of course, a beginner master needs practice, an understanding of exactly how the machine works. The most courageous beginners can practice on their bodies, but it is better to purchase artificial leather. Yes, there is a special material that resembles the epidermis in density. It is painted white or flesh, allowing you to understand what this or that needle forms lines and what shade the pigment gives. The material is worth buying a lot, it is quite cheap, but it is the best canvas for a beginner in the tattoo field.
How to start the practice of a tattoo artist?
Even if you are an artist from God and draw real masterpieces with a pencil, you will have to get used to working with a tattoo machine. Since the skin is not paper, and it is difficult to remove paint from under it, it is better to do the first drawings, not on a person.
For training, you can use:
- Artificial leather (sold in tattoo shops).
- Pig skin.
Human skin stretches, folds, wrinkles. It works in different ways and different areas; for example, the easiest way to get a tattoo on:
- the shoulders;
- the back surface of the lower leg (calf);
- the upper and outer surface of the thigh.
It is more difficult for the master (and more painful for the client) to work on the ribs, abdomen, chest, inner thighs, elbow and knee bends, collarbones.
Therefore, it is recommended to train the most basic actions on artificial materials:
- Keeping a straight line.
- Creation of contours (on artificial material that can and should be trained most of all).
- Color transitions.
You can move on to practice after your hand gets used to holding the typewriter and drawing lines. The easiest way is to use your legs for the first real work. If you don't want to draw on yourself, you can start looking for clients.
How to find clients for a tattoo artist
Among all types of employment, finding clients for a tattoo artist is the easiest and fastest. You just need to create a page on a social network, regularly upload photos of your work there, and people themselves will write to you. Or you don't have to make a separate account but indicate information about your services directly on your page. However, this is not the initial stage. At the very beginning, you will need to complete at least a dozen works to build a portfolio and earn reviews. You can find your first customers in the following ways:
- Offer a free tattoo to everyone you know. It is very fashionable to have a picture on the body now, and there will certainly be those who want to save more than one hundred dollars.
- Offer free tattoos on social media. For this, groups with people from your city are suitable.
- Get a job in a tattoo shop. Salons often hire newbies for free.
Working from home is the most common solution for beginners. This option is convenient and beneficial in that you do not have to pay extra for rent, and you don’t have to go anywhere. However, to arrange the workplace, you will have to allocate a separate room. And some clients are now skeptical about tattoo artists who work from home; therefore, after receiving the first experience, it is better to equip a separate room for work immediately.
The Self-rental of a separate room is an excellent option for any craftsman who has already gained experience and developed a client base. If you have a steady stream of clients, and your schedule is constantly scheduled for several months in advance (and a good master does), do not spare money on rent. It can be either a separate apartment (convenient because it will have both a kitchen and a bathroom) or a non-residential premise.
Should you go to tattoo shops? Working independently or going to a tattoo shop is a controversial issue, and each master decides it himself. In general, most tattoo artists prefer to work independently, especially if they have no problems with clients, the workplace, and equipment. Shops usually arrange:
- beginners want to build up a client base, learn from more experienced tattoo artists, and get practice;
- masters who do not want to resolve issues with the arrangement of the workplace independently;
- tattoo artists who do not want to search for clients independently.
In terms of benefits, working in a shop is unlikely to bring in much less than working from home. This option is good because you will work in the company of other craftsmen, it will be easier for you to look for clients, and you will not have to worry about finding and arranging a workplace.
How to maintain a tattoo artist portfolio?
Tattoo artists are chosen primarily for their work. Reviews, the cost is secondary; any client, first of all, will carefully review the entire album of tattoos that you did. Making a separate site does not necessarily take longer, more complex, and more expensive. It is much easier to maintain a portfolio directly on social networks or create your website with your work.
To maintain a portfolio, it is not necessary to create a separate page or group. All works can be uploaded directly to your account by creating a separate album. For the photos in the portfolio to be as effective as possible, it is recommended:
- Use a high-quality camera for photography. It is unnecessary to buy a super-expensive DSLR, but photographing a tattoo with the cheapest camera is also undesirable. If you have a good smartphone, it should be fine.
- Use lighting. A tattoo photographed in a dim room is unlikely to be a decoration for your portfolio. For photography, it is ideal to have a separate lamp on hand that can be easily moved and adjusted (so that you can illuminate different parts of the body and tattoos of different sizes).
- Have a color background. For this, a free wall painted with paint or pasted over with wallpaper without drawings and patterns is suitable.
- It is advisable to sign the work date under each photo (if the tattoo was done in several sessions, then the dates) and the name of the person who got the tattoo (of course, if he does not mind posting such information). Ideally, ask the client to take a photo of the tattoo after complete healing, and put this photo in the portfolio as well.
- If an old tattoo overlaps with a new pattern, be sure to photograph what came before your work and expose it with a fresh tattoo.
Also, under each work, you can write the price. However, most craftsmen do not do this, but instead, write how many hours the application process took.
Becoming a tattoo artist takes a lot of practice and learning. But if you have talent, then you will definitely be able to achieve success in this area.
- What do you need to pass to become a tattoo artist?
You need to be able to draw, use a tattoo machine, own the technology of drawing on the skin, know the properties of dyes for a tattoo. The master must be able not only to invent but also to develop plots for a tattoo artistically.
- Is it possible to become a tattoo artist without an art education?
You can. In the courses for tattoo artists, you will learn the technique of tattooing and various technical points related directly to the techniques of tattooing, equipment, etc. Art education will teach the concept of composition, understanding of scale, and everything related to the drawing.
- What important knowledges does a tattoo artist need?
A professional tattoo artist must have technical execution skills, precisely select the size and color of the drawing, adjust the sketch, and, according to all the rules of art. The foreman must observe safety precautions and keep all equipment clean and sterile.
- Which tattoo machine is right for a beginner?
For a beginner, anything an induction machine is suitable, an induction pair from a liner and a shader, one rotor and the same rotor and induction together. The main thing is that everything is high quality, easy to use, and helps achieve the desired result.