The era of fear of being judged for loving anime and manga is long gone. Today, anime is adored by people of all ages all over the world! Some feel nostalgic for old anime like Pokémon or Dragon Ball Z, while others are crazy about modern titles.

Whatever the case, in the end, people celebrate their love for anime with tattoos. This statement can be perceived from both sides: anime can inspire one to get a tattoo with a favorite character or become an anime tattoo artist. Today, we invited three tattooists to discuss anime in tattoos: Ginger Pennington of San Diego, Kuu Tamura of Orlando, and Cory Roman of Chicago!

Meet Our Main Characters!

In the process, we discovered that there is not a single anime or manga about tattoos in the world, how is that even possible? So, food for thought: if there was an anime about tattoos, what would it be? An isekai story about a painter being reincarnated as a tattoo artist, a hero’s journey of becoming a famous tattooist, or tattoo shop wars?

Meanwhile, we spoke not with one, not even with two, but with three anime tattoo artists! Let’s introduce their backstories in more detail.

Ginger Pennington — Slice-of-Life With a Dash of Shounen

Ginger Pennington — Slice-of-Life With a Dash of Shounen

Ginger never thought she would become an anime tattoo artist, as she grew up in a rather conservative environment devoid of beautiful tattoos: “I feel like a lot of tattoo artists say something like, ‘I knew I wanted to be a tattoo artist since I was little.’ For me, it wasn’t like that. I grew up my whole life thinking tattoos were ugly because I only saw poorly done tattoos growing up”

And yet, now she is a renowned Korean tattoo artist, you might wonder: how did she get started? Well, as it’s usually the case, many different plots develop in high school. However, in Ginger’s case, the college became the turning point. 

At first, Instagram opened a fresh perspective on tattoos in general, when Ginger saw some well-done tattoos there, she fell in love with them at the instant! Yet the newfound passion for the profession awakened only in the middle of grad school.

Kuu Tamura — Drama with a Seinen Twist

Kuu Tamura — Drama with a Seinen Twist

Although Japan is famously known for being the birthplace of manga and anime, the reality of life in Japan is not all sunshine and rainbows. Kuu Tamura, a Japanese tattoo artist, grew up in a strict household, where tattoos were mostly viewed as an attribute of the yakuza.

Kuu found an outlet for her feelings in the form of art. “I’d been drawing since I could pick up a pencil and whenever I started getting tattoos, I thought it would be something that I would be really into,” she recalls. When she was freed from the shackles of her studies, she took a leap of faith and has been successfully developing as an anime tattoo artist for almost three years now.

Corinna (Cory) Roman — A Sprinkle of Magical Girl Comedy!

Corinna (Cory) Roman — A Sprinkle of Magical Girl Comedy!

An enthusiastic, goofy, and empathetic Mexican-American artist, who makes “cute tatz for babes & brats.” Their story begins in 2018 when they began helping out at a local tattoo shop. People never say no to free help, so Corinna helped them, gained experience, and became a self-taught tattoo artist.

As Cory retells the story, “I was drawing since I was a little kid and I knew it’s what I wanted to do for a living. But I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do. And then I saw that the shop down the street from my apartment was looking for help. So I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that makes sense.’ I thought I could fulfill my dream of doing art through tattooing.”

In our opinion, those are amazing protagonist stories, you may notice how we assigned a genre for each character. 

If you’re wondering what their very first tattoo experienced, Ginger and Kuu got the firsthand experience of tattooing themselves. They both pointed out the importance of this ritual, so they could better understand their tools and get in tune with their clients.

As for Cory, they made her first tattoo for her friend, which was a tiny Bart Simpson’s head. “It was only two inches, but I was so nervous to mess it up, it took me two hours to finish it,” they say. Cory got her very first tattoo with Bart Simpson in a studio. 

What Is It Like To Be an Anime Tattooist?

What Is It Like To Be an Anime Tattooist?

All anime tattoo artists seem to possess a special power. And that power is… Domain Expansion. Let us explain the principle behind this technique.

“If I get a request and have no idea who the character is, I try to find episodes online and watch a couple of them to get to know the source material. Sometimes someone will send me a request for some anime, I’ll watch it, and I end up really loving it and watching the rest.”

— Ginger Pennington to InkMatch

There are a lot of interesting titles out there, it would take ages to watch them all. However, if a tattoo artist receives an order for a new, unknown character, they will run through several episodes to better understand them and convey the character in the tattoo. With an 80% probability, the tattoo artist may like the story and watch it to the end in their free time.

“I try to be the type of person who doesn’t like drawing unless I know what it’s from. Clients send me the references and I make sure to watch the show before I draw anything up. Honestly, I find a lot of good anime and cartoons through my job just because I get to tattoo so many different characters.”

— Kuu Tamura to InkMatch

The Challenges

Anime tattooists, manga artists, and animators can agree on one thing — drawing characters consistently is hard. The first difficulty is that most characters have a lot of small details, which takes a lot of time. However, it’s not always possible to convey all the details in a tattoo, and then, as suggested by Ginger, you need to look for compromises with clients. 

Anime hardships

Anime hardships

This heavy detailing is one of the reasons why Kuu is so attentive to her schedule. She limits herself to 4 or 5 hours of work, splits sessions, and takes days off every other day to restore. “Tattooing does take a toll on my body,” highlights Kuu Tamura. “I don’t think most people think about how heavy it is on your body to tattoo for hours. It’s a lot of bending, repetitive motion, and tensing.”

Having a mentor like Coco from the series “Witch Hat Atelier” is great, but for self-taught people like Cory, entering the career can be a hardship. “You need a lot of supplies to start,” they mentioned. “I was bombarding people with so many questions, I had no idea where to start, what machine should I buy, and how to sustain myself.”

Another challenge for anime tattooists is color. You need to get a good eye to get the perfect color balance. Not only that, but anime’s heavy reliance on color can make the process painful to a lot of clients, creating an internal struggle for the artist who wants to deliver a beautiful piece but doesn’t want to inflict discomfort.

Most Popular Anime Tattoo Requests

There are more than a dozen thousand anime, and even more manga, and people are bound to have their favorites. No need to go far for anime tattoo ideas, everything is right at hand. We got Berserk tattoos, Princess Mononoke tattoos, Curse Marks tattoos from Naruto, you name it.

After interviewing our guests, we found three winners, made a tier list, and showed examples of such tattoos by Ginger, Kuu, and Cory (in respective order). All of them are from classic anime.

  • 🥇 First place — Pokémon

  • 🥈Second place — Studio Ghibli’s works

  • 🥉Third place — Sailor Moon

Despite Pokémon taking the first place, tattooists have a special place in their hearts for Ghibli. “I like tattooing Ghibli characters, I made Howl’s Moving Castle flash sheets about a year ago now,” says Kuu. And Ginger stated that “Studio Ghibli stuff is probably equally popular as Sailor Moon.”

💡
Fun fact, if you were to speak with someone from Japan, they would have no idea what Studio Ghibli is. That’s because they call it “Jiburi,” not “Ghibli”!

Modern anime also takes its turn. Kuu mentioned her coworker had been doing Jujutsu Kaisen characters for a week straight! Honorary mentions include Chainsaw Man and Demon Slayer, which have been popular lately.

“Hate-To-Love” Trope for Anime

“Hate-To-Love” Trope for Anime

Remember when liking anime meant whispers of “cartoon violence” and accusations of being a basement dweller? Thankfully, those days are in the past. But before the widespread of fandoms on the internet, many fans have to hide their interest, including Ginger. 

Attitudes toward animation vary in different parts of the world. In the West, animation has long been considered a childish pastime for kids, incapable of developing serious themes. In the East, animation is simply an art form. This was very convenient, because most anime are manga adaptations, and any special effects can be easily recreated in animation. As Kuu recalls, “Anime is just a normal show people would watch on TV.” 

For anime, it’s normal to develop hard topics, but it also tends to be rich in fan service or violent content, which only adds fuel to the skepticism towards anime, giving a bad name to its fans. However, with the rise of the Internet, anime fans became more vocal, and the whole perception has undergone a massive shift, to the point when tattooing anime characters and manga panels became normal.

Q&A: What Are The Newest Trends in Tattoo Art?

We asked our guests about the future of anime tattoos and the latest trends in the tattoo industry, let’s hear them!

Ginger:

“People really like to see celebrities watching anime and being vocally proud of that. So I feel like, you know, the demand is definitely there. But you need to be careful with the most visible tattoo placements, like hand, finger, or neck tattoos. We call them ‘job stoppers.’ So I always double-check with my clients when they want to get that kind of tattoo.”

Kuu:

“I’ve seen a lot of artists switch over to wireless machines. And they’re much, much easier for my wrists. It definitely made a huge difference, like how much pain I was in at the end of the day or how long I could tattoo, and then they’re much easier for traveling. It’s so convenient for conventions!”

Cory:

“You never know, really. Some studios open just to cater to the so-called ‘Pinterest tattoos’, where they specialize in just doing tiny little one-inch tattoos that are just really thin lines. So, I think what’s going to get more popular is studios and artists that cater to a specific niche of tattooing.”

Summary

Animation and tattoos are indeed a match made in heaven, especially when it comes to anime-inspired tattoos. Wherever you look, you can find an idea in every frame. Anime images are great for colorful tattoos, and manga panels fit perfectly into cool black-and-white designs.

The InkMatch team was very happy to hear insights from such talented tattoo artists as Ginger Pennington, Kuu Tamura, and Cory Roman. Let’s hope for the future of the tattoo industry in Asia and look forward to an anime about tattoos (seriously, why is that not a thing yet?!)

If you want to learn more about the tattoo industry in Korea, check out our interview with Sion Kwak!

FAQ

❤️ What Are Anime Tattoos Called?

There isn’t a specific term for anime tattoos, but some folks might call them “otaku ink” (otaku being a fan of anime and manga).

🧡 Are Anime Tattoos Expensive?

Mostly anime or manga-inspired tattoos are famous for their bright colors, but fortunately, this does not affect their price much compared to traditional black-and-gray tattoos.

💛 Why Do People Get Anime Tattoos?

As mentioned by Cory Roman, a talented anime tattooist, “People get tattoos of who they identify with”. Many anime-inspired tattoos are used as a way to express one’s love for a particular anime series or character.

💚 How Do I Find an Anime Tattoo Artist?

InkMatch has you covered! Finding a skilled artist is easier with an anime tattoo collection in the gallery. Save designs you love, and check out the artist’s profile — all within a few clicks.

💜 What Are Some Popular Anime Tattoo Designs?

Some popular Anime tattoo designs include characters like Goku from Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, symbols like the Sharingan from Naruto, or iconic images from popular anime series like Studio Ghibli films.

Have you poured your heart and soul into creating incredible tattoo designs, but don’t know how to turn them into a fruitful business? Or do you frequently hear that your artwork is more deserving of respect than to be forgotten in albums? You’re not alone! In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to sell tattoo designs online and offline and succeed.

We’ve broken everything down into clear steps, from what skills you’ll need, what types of sales resources exist, and how to price your work, to navigating exciting and helpful online and offline marketing strategies. Let’s get started and dive in, learn new things, and discover the answers to the most important questions!

Essentials for Selling Tattoo Designs

If you have a passion for creating fantastic tattoo designs, congratulations: you’re already halfway to selling your work. We’ll give you some advice on how to prepare for this, so you’ll be confident in yourself, your abilities, and what you’ll need.

Essentials for Selling Tattoo Designs

Skills and Supplies

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a solid foundation of skills and supplies that both seasoned artists and those who just started their journey will need. The good news is, you don’t necessarily need a fancy tattoo machine to get started. 😉

  • Strong drawing fundamentals are key. Practice anatomy, shading, and composition to create designs that translate well onto the body.
  • Many tattoo artists utilize graphic design tools to create clean, adaptable designs. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should learn how to do it.
  • Designing a tattoo online is good, but traditional tools never go out of style. Pen and paper are great for sketching ideas and developing your unique artistic style, so learn how to draw tattoos on paper.

❗ Remember:
The most important tool you have is your creativity!

Building Your Portfolio

Now that you’re armed with some artistic firepower, it’s time to build a portfolio that grabs attention. Think of it as your artistic resume, where potential clients can see your range, style, and expertise.

Building Your Portfolio

💡 Note:
We have a complete guide on how to create a tattoo portfolio, even if you have no experience in it. So below, we’ll go over the reasons why you should start such a thing.

Reason №1

It allows people to see the quality of your work, the level of detail you can achieve, and the range of styles you excel at.

Reason №2

A well-curated portfolio demonstrates your professionalism and dedication to your craft.

Reason №3

A strong portfolio can spark inspiration in potential clients. They might see a design they love and request a variation of it, or use your portfolio as a springboard to discuss their unique ideas.

Reason №4

Your portfolio might catch the eye of tattoo shops or studios looking for talented artists to collaborate with.

3 Ways of Selling Tattoo Designs Online

Here you’ve honed your skills and built a brilliant portfolio, it’s time to show the world your designs. The beauty of the digital age is the abundance of online platforms to connect with potential clients. Here are three fantastic ways to turn your artistic passion into profitable sales.

3 Ways of Selling Tattoo Designs Online

Art Design Sites

Some websites like Inprnt, Redbubble, and Creative Market are dedicated to artistic design and are specifically geared towards tattoo enthusiasts. On these platforms, you can upload your artwork, set prices, and connect with tattoo artists and collectors who are looking for unique designs.

This is a great option for beginners looking to put their work out there and create a name for themselves.

❗ Note:
Some sites might charge commission fees on sales, so factor that into your pricing strategy.

Pros

  • Art design websites are geared toward tattoo enthusiasts, creative people, and those looking for tattoo designs
  • A wide range of potential clients have a high chance of seeing and choosing your designs on these platforms
  • User-friendly setup
  • There is potential for passive income, so you can focus more on new tattoo designs

Cons

  • Less control over how your designs are presented and marketed
  • Lots of other artists, so a lot of competition
  • Some platforms might restrict your ability to offer customization options like exclusive rights or modifications for the buyer
  • Commission on sales

Social Media Powerhouse

Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are powerful tools for any artist. They allow you to directly connect with clients and tattoo shops around the world. Here’s where you can build a community and establish yourself as a brand.

While social media isn’t a traditional online store, you can still use it directly to sell your tattoo designs. For example, you can post a collection of tattoo designs and write the price of each design in the post description.

Post high-quality images of your designs.

Showcase your range and highlight the details that make your work stand out.

Engage with your audience, respond to comments, answer questions, and participate in tattoo-related discussions.

Run targeted ads or collaborate with tattoo influencers.

Pros

  • You can directly interact with interested people
  • Free to use
  • Social media is image-driven, which allows you to present your designs in a visually appealing way
  • Brand recognition through constant posting and engagement
  • You can reach people specifically looking for tattoo designs

Cons

  • Limited sales functionality
  • Algorithm dependency
  • There’s a risk of someone stealing your design and using it without permission
  • While you can generate interest, converting viewers into paying customers can be challenging on social media alone

A Professional Website

To maximize control and build your brand, consider building a professional website. This is your dedicated online space to showcase your portfolio and communicate directly with clients.

The beauty of this is that you choose the look, feel, and functionality of your website. Including clear pricing information, contact details, and a secure payment gateway for seamless transactions.

💡 Short tip:
If you’re a tattoo artist who doesn’t want or have the ability to maintain your website, we suggest you create a profile on our InkMatch website. Here you can both show your work and wait for appointments from clients.

Pros

  • You have complete control over your brand and artwork
  • You can set up a secure payment gateway for clients to purchase your designs directly
  • Detailed information about you and your work for clients
  • A well-designed website portrays a professional image and builds trust
  • Enhanced control over ownership rights

Cons

  • Building and maintaining a professional website can involve significant costs
  • Attracting traffic to your website requires marketing efforts like social media promotion, search engine optimization (SEO), or paid advertising
  • You should keep your website secure, updated, and functioning smoothly
  • Many tattoo artists have websites, so standing out and attracting clients requires high-quality designs and effective marketing

4 Ways of Selling Tattoo Designs Offline

Yes, you may think it’s strange in the age of digitalization, but don’t underestimate the power of the physical world! While online platforms offer a huge reach, there’s something special about face-to-face interactions with people.

👀 Here are four ways to showcase and sell your tattoo designs offline:

A classic approach is visiting local tattoo studios and shops. Offer them a chance to purchase exclusive rights to use your designs for their clients, or strike a deal where they receive a commission for each tattoo done using your artwork.

Tattoo conventions and art expos are fantastic opportunities to showcase your work. Network with industry professionals, and connect with potential clients. These events often attract serious tattoo enthusiasts and collectors actively seeking unique designs. 

Also, consider showcasing your work at local art markets, street fairs, or community events. These events can attract a wider audience who might not have been actively searching for tattoo designs but could be captivated by your artwork and its potential as a tattoo. Offer smaller, more affordable options like flash sheets (pre-drawn designs) alongside your portfolio.

You can partner with local artists or businesses that cater to a clientele interested in tattoos. For example, collaborate with a piercing studio or a clothing brand that aligns with your artistic style.

Pros

  • Personal connection with clients
  • attoo studios, conventions, and art markets attract relevant audiences already interested in tattoos
  • Offline selling allows you to showcase your work uniquely and memorably
  • Immediate sales
  • Offline interactions allow you to network with tattoo industry professionals, potentially leading to long-term partnerships and growth opportunities

Cons

  • Offline methods typically reach a smaller audience compared to online platforms
  • Geographic limitations
  • Investment of time and resources
  • When partnering with shops or studios, you might have less control over pricing or how your designs are presented
  • Tattoo conventions and art markets can be crowded with other artists

Setting a Price for Your Work

After going through all of the above stages, the question comes: how much should you charge? Getting money for tattoo designs can feel daunting, especially if you’re new to the industry. Yet we’re ready to share the tips you need to confidently determine rates and secure your success as a tattoo designer.

Setting a Price for Your Work

🔑 There are several key factors to consider when pricing your tattoo designs:

Time and complexity of your work

The more intricate and detailed your design, the longer it will take to create. Factor in the estimated time it takes to draw the design, including revisions, into your pricing structure.

Experience and reputation

As you gain experience and build a reputation for high-quality work, you can gradually increase your prices.

Client budget and location

Be realistic about your target market. Research what other tattoo artists in your area charge for similar styles and designs. Consider offering a pricing range to accommodate different client budgets.

Licensing vs. selling ownership

Will you be selling the exclusive rights to your design, or granting a license for one-time use? Exclusive ownership generally commands a higher price.

👎 Pitfalls to avoid:

Undervaluing your work

Don’t shortchange yourself. Factor in the time, effort, and skill that goes into creating your designs. Remember, you’re a professional artist, and your work deserves fair compensation.

Price wars

Resist the urge to undercut other artists in your area. Focus on the value you bring, the uniqueness of your style, and build your brand accordingly.

Not considering hidden costs

Factor in any additional costs associated with selling your designs, such as printing fees for flash sheets or website maintenance expenses.

💡 Here are some helpful tips for new artists:

Start with a competitive baseline and adjust as you grow.

Offer package deals for larger or multi-session tattoo designs.

Consider a deposit system to secure serious clients.

Marketing and Promotion — Getting Your Designs Seen

So you’ve got the talent, the drive, and the business savvy –– fantastic! Now it’s time to get your amazing tattoo designs out there and into the hands (or should we say, onto the skin) of eager clients. Here are some effective marketing and promotional strategies to supercharge your visibility:

Marketing and Promotion — Getting Your Designs Seen

🌐 Social media activity

Utilize the power of platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and even YouTube to showcase your work. Run targeted ads, collaborate with tattoo influencers, and participate in relevant online communities to build a dedicated following.

📲 Hashtag hero

Research popular tattoo hashtags and incorporate relevant ones into your posts to ensure your work is discoverable by potential clients searching for specific styles.

✍️ Content is king

Create engaging content beyond just static images. Share timelapse videos of your design process, offer design tutorials, or collaborate with other artists on guest posts.

🤝 Collaborations and cross-promotion

Partner with other creatives whose audience might be interested in tattoos. This could be a local piercing studio, a clothing brand with an edgy aesthetic, or even a photographer specializing in body art. Cross-promotion allows you to tap into a new audience and potentially spark exciting creative collaborations.

⚡ Freebies and flash sales

Strategically using freebies and flash sales can help raise attention and attract new customers. Offer a limited-edition flash sheet at a discounted rate, tattoo patterns for sale, or hold a contest in which the winner receives a tattoo from your portfolio.

📰 Get featured

Submit your work to online tattoo design galleries or relevant publications. Being featured on a reputable platform can increase your visibility and establish you as a rising talent.

Summary

Sure, while all these steps and strategies listed above may appear intimidating at first, however, there is a path to success for both beginners and seasoned artists. You will establish yourself as a competent artist by focusing on your technique, properly displaying your drawings, and understanding how they transfer to the body. This, in turn, will attract clients who want to work with you and wear your creations on their skin.

This post covered the different online and offline platforms you may utilize to sell your tattoo designs, along with advice on how to market them effectively.

As we mentioned from the beginning, selling your works is just as important as being able to draw them. The knowledge of how to do it is the other half, which you now possess. We hope your business grows and that you have good sales!

FAQ

🎨 Do I Need To Be a Tattoo Artist To Sell Tattoo Designs?

Not necessarily. Great design is what matters. But understanding tattooing helps. Knowing how to draw tattoo art, what translates well to skin, size limitations, and popular styles can give your designs an edge.

💸 How Should I Price My Tattoo Designs?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Consider the complexity of the design, the time it takes to draw, and your experience. Investigate what other artists charge for similar work, and follow the advice we provided above.

🤑 How Much Can I Expect To Earn From Selling Tattoo Designs?

It depends on the situation. Some sell for a few bucks, while complex designs can fetch hundreds

🖋️ What Are the Most Popular Tattoo Design Styles That Sell Well?

Trends change, but some styles consistently sell well. Black-and-gray realism, traditional, and illustrative styles are popular. Also, don’t forget the timeless appeal of easy-to-draw designs.

🔐 Do I Need to Copyright My Tattoo Designs?

Yes, it’s a good idea to copyright your tattoo designs and protect your ownership rights. Copyrighting your designs can help prevent others from using or reproducing them without your permission. It’s an important step to safeguard your creativity and potential income.

🔄 Can I Sell the Same Design Multiple Times?

It is at your discretion, but you should warn about it right away. Usually, you can see that tattoo designs are made to order, or after buying the work, the artist removes it from the available. There is also the option of selling tattoo patterns, they can usually be sold many times, but this should also be indicated in your account, or personally to the buyer.