Tattooing can either be a hobby or a career for people with an interest in body art. If you have a talent for drawing, good people skills and a preference for alternative lifestyles, then you may have what it takes to be a tattooist.
Here are the steps to take to start tattooing.
- Learn how to draw. Drawing tattoos require the ability to steadily execute complex details using an ink medium. People who have been sketching continuously since they were in high school will have already established good habits for making it as a good tattooist. You can also go to art school and learn about different media and techniques to gain insight about drawing. Lean towards ink-and-pen designs but don’t forget to branch out to other media such as coloring and caricaturing.
- Become an apprentice to an established tattooist. The tattoo trade is small enough to keep the educational aspects in apprenticeship form. This means that the bulk of learning techniques is through an experienced tattoo artist who will supervise your work. Apprenticeship also means maintaining the equipment and supplies, dealing with the clients and doing errands for your teacher. Chat up several tattooists in your city and see if they are interested in teaching you. You should support yourself by other means during this period, as you will most likely not get paid while you’re learning.
- Acquire your equipment. You can get the basic tools like the tattoo needle and cleaning equipment as you are starting out. You should also find a reputable dealer of tattoo supplies for your inks by asking established tattooists their source of supplies. A big concern in tattooing is infection and poisoning via poor-quality inks and badly-maintained equipment. You may want to get top-quality tools and supplies in order to assure your clients.
- Build up a portfolio. A portfolio will show off your best work to potential clients, and is a direct reflection of your abilities. Once you finish a design on a client, take a picture of your work and add it to your portfolio. You can get inspiration from visiting tattoo design galleries online then find the best art on display. Try understanding how the artist executed his design then integrate his technique to your own set of skills.
- Consider becoming a henna tattooist. Henna tattoos are temporary skin art that does not involve skin penetration and require less expensive supplies and equipment. They are popular during beach parties, festivals and other events, and draw a more mainstream crowd. The best thing of all is that is uses the same skills developed by regular tattoo artists. You can either commit to becoming a full-time henna tattooist or supplement your income by doing henna tattoos on the side.
You yourself should not be a subject for a friend who’s just starting out as a tattoo artist. Most of the time, the execution is mediocre and the material he uses is sub-standard, resulting in a regretful, semi-permanent design on your own skin. So don't hesitate to refuse your friend but make it sure to do it in a polite manner.