How To Become A Tattoo Artist: The 5 Step Guide

Tyler Martina

How To Become A Tattoo Artist

How To Become A Tattoo Artist: The 5 Step Guide

The life of a Tattoo Artist is pretty great. They get paid (pretty well) to create amazing artwork for a living, they get to dress how they want at work, and more important than all, they get to do what they love for a living.

People from all walks of life admire them, they wonder how they became such great artists, and they ponder how maybe they can follow in their footsteps, and they ask themselves ….

How do you become a Tattoo Artist?

The answer isn’t a simple one. The path to becoming a tattoo artist is not easy.  It takes a lot of time, dedication, and skill. Not everyone has what it takes to become a tattoo artist. For those of you who think that becoming a professional tattoo artist is something for you, I have put together a quick guide to show you the steps to make that dream a reality. 

Step 1: Art Self Training

To become any sort of artist you need to practice art. So, the first step in becoming a tattoo artist is art self-training. This self-training should be easy enough, seeing how you should be very passionate about doing art in the first place if you want to be a Tattoo Artist.

Before you begin working on skin, you need to practice on other, more forgiving mediums. This would include, paper, canvas, digital, and whatever else you can create art with. This practice will help you to figure out your style, and help you learn the subtle nuances of art. You need to train yourself daily to become skilled in art. Then, after that, you can think about tattooing.

Step 2: Get formal Art training 

There is only so much you can learn on your own. That is why you need to draw off the experience and lessons of the old masters that came before you. Their techniques and processes have been practiced and honed over thousands of years of human history. And this information is now available for you to master and perfect yourself. 

That is why the second step in becoming a tattoo artist is formal art training. This training can come from traditional art school, self study, and again more practice, It will help broaden your artistic horizons and help build your artistic tool box. When tattooing you will probably prefer one tattoo style over another, however, having the ability to be proficient in all styles is the goal.

Step 3: Find a reputable tattoo shop and apply to apprentice 

The third step in becoming a tattoo artist is finding  a place to apprentice, so you can learn how to tattoo. This is very important. Shops are always looking to take on new apprentices, but you must know that shop you are apprenticing at is the place you want to learn and grow.

To figure this out, look at the artists portfolios, visit the shop a few times to figure out the vibe. Talk to the people that work there, and see if they are the type of people you would like to grow your career with.

Many shops will treat their apprentices like slaves. Forcing them to spend the majority of their time doing janitorial duties, and never getting time behind a machine for a year or two. This is not apprenticeship at all. An apprenticeship is when a Master passes down the skills and processes to be great, like them, to you. Of course you will still be helping around the shop, even the most senior artist does that. But, the main focus will be developing you into a world class tattoo artist.


Step 4: Make the most of your apprenticeship 

Now that you have been hired as an apprentice at a great shop the work really begins. It is up to you to make the most of your apprenticeship. You have the opportunity as an apprentice to learn from a world class tattoo artist. And, during that time, you have the time to practice all of those skills and techniques to create a base for your entire career.

That is why step four in becoming a tattoo artist is so important. As an apprentice you will be learning everything about tattoos. From how to set up a station, to the different types of tattoo machines, to the history of tattoos. While learning these things, you need to be absorbing as much as possible. The little details are the difference between successful tattoo artists and those who never quite make it.

As stated before, your apprenticeship is the foundation for your entire career, make sure you build it strong.

Step 5: Build your business

The fifth step in becoming a tattoo artist is building your business. Even before your apprenticeship ends you need to start building your business. As a tattoo artist you are a brand. You must promote yourself, and your art, to the world. 

The first step is your “free apprentice tattoos”. Use these tattoos to practice the art of tattooing, but also use these tattoos to build your portfolio, and to build relationships with clients. The portfolio will be a way to showcase your tattoos, and the relationships will be your first paying tattoo clients.

Next, you will need to study business. This includes, sales, marketing, and finance. You will be a business owner. Your business is you. You are a tattoo artist, and you need to make a living. And not only that, but a good living, doing what you love.  And trust me, you can exponentially increase your income with learning some simple and highly effective, sales, marketing, and finance strategies.


Becoming a professional Tattoo Artist is one the most amazing and rewarding careers you can have. You get to do what others only dream of, make money doing what you love everyday. It takes commitment, and to be successful you must constantly be improving, innovating, and evolving. 

It is not for everyone. 

But, if you believe it is for you, then you will be embarking on a journey like no other. Not many people can walk the path of an artist. The road is not for the faint of heart. But, for those who decide to brave the trek and forge a way for themselves, the rewards are worth more than all of King Midas's gold. 


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing