How To Start Tattooing: 11 Steps To Become A Tattoo Artist is reader-supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

There is a common misconception that becoming a tattoo artist is as simple as buying an expensive machine, and slapping a tattoo on your (or someone else’s) skin. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Tattooing is an art form that requires practice, skill, and talent. To give you a little insight into the world of tattooing, I am going to give you some tips on how to become a tattoo artist.

How to start tattooing – step-by-step (11 steps)

Step 1: Learn how to draw

Before you even think about buying a tattoo machine, or sticking ink into someone else’s skin; you need to be able to draw. When I say draw, I mean that you should be able to work with traditional mediums like pencils and paper. 

There is absolutely no substitute for the feeling of holding a drawing utensil in your hand. After all, if you can’t draw on paper, you can’t tattoo.

Step 2: Practice drawing a lot

This step kind of follows from the first one, but it is important enough to warrant being emphasized. After all, you already know how to hold a pencil correctly (that’s right; I’m looking at you, ghetto-tattooers), so what more is there? Well, drawing every single day is the only way you will get better.

how to start tattooing

Step 3: Draw anything and everything

Draw stuff that isn’t a tattoo. Draw landscapes, people, animals, flowers, cars, anything and everything. The more variety you can incorporate into your work, the better. As a tattoo artist, you will be expected to be able to replicate any image that is put in front of you.

Step 4: Learn about tattoos

This may seem like an obvious one, but many people don’t realize that tattoos are an art form. Learning to tattoo well requires an understanding of art history (artists like Van Gogh and Rembrandt come to mind), as well as current art practices. If you want to learn about tattoos, I would recommend finding a good book on the subject. There are several available at any book store.

Step 5: Research the art of tattooing

After you read a good book, you should begin Googling things like “tattoo history”, or “famous tattoo artists”. Even if you do not learn anything from these sites, it is always helpful to know what has come before you. You can use this information to help develop your own style.

Step 6: Get the tattoo equipment

This is the fun part. After all, you can’t be a tattoo artist without the necessary equipment. While there are many different machines and inks on the market, I would recommend starting off with some basics. A good machine, some ink, a few needles, and some stencils should be enough to get you started.

how to start tattooing

Step 7: Practice, practice, practice

Now that you have all the necessary equipment, it is time to start practicing. There is no way around it; if you want to be a good tattoo artist, you need to practice. It’s common to use pig skin and fruits like oranges to practice on. You can also learn how to start tattooing yourself, although I would recommend doing this only after you have some experience.

Step 8: Practice some more

I know it may be hard to believe, but practice makes perfect. If you want your tattoos to be of decent quality, then you need to keep at your tattoo practice.. Eventually, with enough patience and dedication, you will be a great tattoo artist.

Step 9: Come up with your own style

The last step in becoming a tattoo artist is to develop your own style. It’s okay if your first few tattoos don’t look like anything special, but you should try and incorporate elements from other styles into your work. Your tattoos will be more creative, and people will be more likely to come back if you can continue to find new ways of working with the images.

Step 10: Start tattooing people

Once you have become a proficient artist, it is time to start tattooing people. I would recommend finding someone who is willing to let you practice on them. This way, you can get feedback and learn how to deal with different types of skin. Remember, tattooing is an art form, so be prepared for some criticism.

Step 11: Consider tattooing as a career

This is the final step, and it’s a big one. If you are serious about becoming a tattoo artist, then you need to start thinking about it as a career. This means finding someone who is willing to teach you the business side of things, as well as continuing to hone your artistic skills. Becoming a tattoo artist is not an easy task, but it is definitely worth it in the end.

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FAQ on how to start tattooing

Can tattooing be self-taught?

Yes! In fact, most tattoo artists learn to tattoo on their own. There are plenty of online resources and books that can help teach you how to start tattooing from home.

What is the best way to learn about tattooing?

I would recommend reading a good book on the subject and then doing some research on the internet. There are many great sites out there that will teach you tattooing basics.

How much does a tattoo artist make?

This depends on a variety of factors, including experience and location. However, most tattoo artists make anywhere from $30-$100 per hour.

What kind of equipment do I need to buy?

To get started you will need a machine, some ink, and some stencils – that’s everything you need to start tattooing. You should also research the different types of machines available before purchasing one. This way you can make sure that you are making the right decision.

How long does it take to become a tattoo artist?

This is entirely up to you. If you are dedicated and patient, then you can become a tattoo artist in as little as a year. However, it is more common to take two or three years to become proficient.

Can you become a tattoo artist if you can’t draw?

No, you need to be able to draw in order to be a tattoo artist. However, good news is that anyone can learn to draw given enough practice.

In Conclusion

Becoming a tattoo artist is not an easy task, but it is definitely worth it in the end. If you are serious about becoming a tattoo artist, then I recommend following these steps. 

Good luck!

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