The influence of media and social culture has contributed to the fad of tattooing. For some people, they consider tattoos as a form of expression with their feelings and beliefs. Despite the pain, others still consider having a tattoo as satisfying and addicting. This body art is done by instilling ink into the outer layer of the skin. The practice has been performed by a lot of nations for many years already. All of these may be the reasons why a lot of tattoo shops and businesses are sprouting today. If you are aspiring to pursue this career or business and you have what it takes, keep reading this article to gain information with the steps on how to become a tattoo artist.
1. You must have artistic talent.
In any aspect, it is always important that we have both interest and passion in what we are doing. Along with this comes the innate ability and skills in arts and design. You must be inclined in drawing, painting and making patterns. If possible, some people suggest aspiring tattoo artists to try and get a tattoo for themselves. Through this, you may be able to observe how professional artists perform every procedures and precautionary measures done in your own body.
2. Be educated.
Although there is no required educational requirement, it is better to take up a course that could develop your talent and skills. You can join art classes or look for colleges and universities that offer courses in Fine Arts where you can learn more about the art history, methodology, making stencils and get to know the basics of making your own masterpiece. Depending on your college or university’s curriculum, you can complete a course or degree within two to four years.
3. Set up your own portfolio.
This is a compilation of your own and unique examples and works of art. You must exhibit your best masterpieces to show your skills and talents to potential customers. Make sure you have a sample in every category that interests all types of clients such as: tribal designs, Chinese characters, astrological signs, flowers and etc. Offer a wide range of selection and be flexible in giving choices.
4. Be an apprentice.
You can apply for apprenticeship and be mentored by more experienced tattoo artists. However, make sure to choose your mentor carefully. Look for shops and businesses that would improve your talents and not take advantage of your need for experience.
At first, you would be tasked with responsibilities you didn’t expect, such as maintaining the orderliness and cleanliness of the shop. You may even be asked to clean the toilet and mop the floors. But don’t worry. Later on, you would be given the opportunity to assist your mentor and be taught on how to sterilize and sanitize the equipments. Eventually, you will be able to hone your talents by learning how to operate the tattoo machine and power supply, maintain a safe technique in tattooing, and apply tattoos in a correct and clean manner. Depending on the confidence of your mentor, you may or may not be allowed to apply tattoos to clients and other people such as your friends and relatives.
This is not only limited to one mentor. You may also seek advice and observe other artists on how they perform and do their craft. This way, you may be able to have a lot of resources and inspirations.
Usually, being a tattoo artist apprentice lasts for two years or so. The final decision would depend on your teacher and how he/she would grade your performance and abilities. With this, they would be the ones to ensure if you are good and worthy enough to get a license and run your own business. Some mentors even hire their apprentices if they would be impressed with the outcome of the training.
Keep in mind that apprenticeship costs money. Sometimes, your mentors would give you incentives for a good job. However, most of the time, you won’t receive anything at all. This means you need enough money to support yourself and your basic needs during the duration of your apprenticeship. If you can, you may look for a part-time job.
5. Get certified.
Depending on your state’s requirements, you may or may not apply for a certificate since there is no formal training or education required by the federal government. However, if you are truly dedicated and concerned with your clients, we suggest you do so either way. Here is a list of the requirements necessary for you to get your own certification as a professional tattoo artist:
- At least 18 years of age.
- Clear and free from any blood borne pathogens.
- Completion of courses or art classes related to fine arts and design.
- Pass the examination focused on the code of ethics designed for body artists.
- Familiarization of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and Food and Drug administration guidelines.
- At least 2 years of complete apprenticeship program.
6. Get licensed by the local Health Department.
Tattooing is considered a hazardous job because of needle stick injuries and exposure to body fluids and secretions such as blood, saliva and vomit. As what we all know, blood borne diseases and HIV infection are very rampant nowadays. This means, you and your clients are in great risk and danger. You must be able to protect yourself so that you can perform well. At the same time, you must also protect the health of people who put their trust and confidence in your hands. Make sure to undergo training and learn the proper ways of sanitation and sterilization of equipments. Consult with your physician and undergo routine physical check-ups. Remember the cliché: “Health is Wealth”.
7. Seek employment.
Once you are confident and equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge, experience, certification and license, it is now time to apply for a job. Look for tattoo shops who are hiring and in need of artists. Make sure to check with their background, terms and conditions, salary offers and benefits. It is better if your employer does not only give you the monetary security but also professional growth and enhancement.
Deciding to get a tattoo is very risky and difficult. Once you have it, you can never take it off. This work of art lasts forever in your skin. Therefore, tattoo artists must be able to satisfy their clients through their skills and confidence. Customer service must come along with safety and precaution. Always remember that there is more to learn along the way and don’t be afraid to try new techniques. Just like other professions, learning doesn’t stop in being employed. Try your best to undergo activities that would hone your skills and meet more experienced artists. As what they say, talents must be shared and never kept. May it be a form or expression or art, we wish you all the best in your future ventures and business.
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