So you want to become a tattoo artist, eh? The path pursuing the craft of tattooing is long, challenging, and worth every struggle you get through. Here’s what it takes to be a tattooist.
Tattoo Schools – Believe it or not, there are actually tattoo trade schools that can give you the knowledge, experience, and skills you’ll need to become a tattoo artist. These places are a great start for anyone who’s always wanted to be a tattooist, but lacks the artistic skill set it takes. These programs will teach you how to prevent cross contamination, how to set up and break down a station, how to handle a tattoo gun, how to clean and prepare tools, how to draw and make stencils, how a tattoo shop works, and most importantly — how to get the tattoo apprenticeship you need.
Tattoo Apprenticeships – That being said, you don’t need to go to school to become a tattoo artist (though it helps and you can never have too much training), but you do need to become an apprentice first. Once you manage to find a mentor who will take you on, you should spend at least three years apprenticing. There, you’ll get the hands on experience and compile a portfolio to become a great tattoo artist. This is also an unpaid position, so be ready.
Licensing and Further Education – Once you’re ready, you’ll need to get a license. Requirements vary from state to state, but most places require a minimum amount of training hours (in Oregon, it’s 360 hours under an approved tattoo artist, as well as the completion of 50 tattoos). You’ll also have to pass a skills test and a written exam. What’s more, some state require tattoo artists to continue taking courses in order to renew their license. In other words, your education will never stop.
If you have any questions, feel free to share in the comments.