How To Become a Tattoo Artist Without Experience: 7 Steps

How To Become a Tattoo Artist
Curious about becoming a tattoo artist? Explore the intricacies of this career, from the artistry involved to the practical steps for success.

Are you obsessed with tattoo art, finding yourself drawn to the mesmerizing world of ink, needles, and creativity? If so, you’re in the right place.

In our article, we will explore the intricacies of what tattooists do, uncovering the various facets of their profession. We will also share insights on how to become a tattoo artist, whether you’re just starting your journey or looking to enhance your skills.

What Do Tattoo Artists Do?

Tattoo artists are professionals at creating permanent designs on the skin using a needle and ink. 

Their responsibilities extend far beyond just applying tattoos; they play a crucial role in ensuring a safe and positive experience for their clients. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what tattoo artists do.

  • Consultations

In a tattoo consultation, the interaction between the tattoo artist and the client is an important step in the creative process. It goes beyond a mere discussion of design ideas; it’s a collaborative effort where the artist seeks to understand the client’s vision, personal style, and the significance behind the desired tattoo.

Beyond discussing aesthetics, artists provide guidance on meaningful customization, suitable placements based on anatomy, and technical considerations for a lasting design.

  • Design creation

Following the consultation, tattoo artists leverage their artistic skills to bring the client’s vision to life. They translate discussions into designs, employing various techniques such as hand sketching or digital rendering

Hand-drawn sketches allow for a personalized touch, while digital mock-ups offer a detailed preview of the final product. Artists strive to capture the essence of the client’s ideas, infusing creativity and expertise into every line and detail.

How To Become a Tattoo Artist

  • Sterilization and safety

The commitment to maintaining a safe and hygienic environment is paramount in the tattooing process. Tattoo artists adhere to rigorous sterilization procedures to mitigate the risk of infections and cross-contamination.

  • Tattoo application

Executing the envisioned design on the client’s skin is a meticulous process that requires a combination of artistic skill, technical proficiency, and a deep understanding of the client’s preferences.

Tattoo artists employ various methods for applying tattoos, with the most common being the use of tattoo machines or traditional hand-poking techniques. 

  • Client comfort

Ensuring the comfort of clients is a cornerstone of the tattooing experience, and artists employ a range of strategies to create a positive and reassuring atmosphere. 

They take the time to explain each step of the process, addressing any concerns or questions the client may have. Tattoo artists also discuss pain levels, potential discomfort, and the duration of the session beforehand. This transparency helps people mentally prepare for the experience, reducing anxiety.

What Do Tattoo Artists Do?

  • Business management

Behind the artwork and creative process, tattoo artists often take on the multifaceted role of business owners, navigating various aspects to ensure the success and sustainability of their enterprises.

  • 1. Appointment scheduling

Tattoo artists are responsible for managing their schedules efficiently. This involves coordinating client appointments, considering the complexity and duration of each tattoo, and balancing their workload.

  • 2. Financial management

Beyond the artistry, successful tattoo artists are adept at financial management. They handle income and expenses, set pricing structures for their services, and track the financial health of their business. 

  • 3. Marketing and promotion

To attract a steady stream of clients, artists engage in marketing and promotional activities. This may include creating a strong online presence through social media, maintaining a professional website, and actively participating in local events or tattoo conventions.

How To Become a Tattoo Artist

Becoming a tattoo artist involves a combination of artistic talent, dedication, and technical skills.

After we’ve figured out what duties and responsibilities they have, it’s time for a guide how to become a tattoo artist (even without experience).

1. Learn the Basic Elements of Art and Design

Understanding the basic elements of art and design is crucial for individuals in the visual arts. 

These include line, shape, form, color, value, texture, space, balance, contrast, unity, and emphasis. Each element contributes to the overall composition and aesthetics of a piece, whether it’s a painting, drawing, graphic design, or tattoo. 

Mastery of these elements allows artists to convey their ideas effectively and create visually engaging and harmonious works of art.

How To Become a Tattoo Artist

2. Develop Your Drawing Abilities and Find Your Unique Style

An equally important point about how to be a tattoo artist is developing your drawing abilities and finding your unique style. That involves consistent practice, exploration, and self-reflection. Begin by dedicating regular time to drawing, allowing yourself the freedom to experiment.

Diversify your artistic tattoo vocabulary by drawing a variety of subjects, from landscapes and portraits to abstract concepts. This broad exploration contributes to the development of your unique artistic voice.

While developing your style, explore different art styles by studying the works of various tattoo artists. Exposure to diverse approaches can enrich your perspective and inspire new ideas in your own work.

Achieve professional expertise through effective tattooing practice methods in our article.

3. Secure an Apprenticeship

Securing a tattoo apprenticeship is a crucial step toward becoming a professional tattoo artist. 

Begin by researching reputable tattoo studios in your area and identifying potential mentors. Approach them with a well-prepared portfolio showcasing your diverse artistic skills and express your genuine passion for the craft. Emphasize your willingness to learn and contribute to the studio environment. 

If the opportunity arises, consider enrolling in formal apprenticeship programs offered by some studios. They help you with the question of how to start tattooing by providing structured training and guidance under the supervision of experienced tattoo artists. 

Remember, persistence, humility, and a strong work ethic are key traits that can help you secure a valuable apprenticeship in the competitive field of tattoo artistry.

4. Build Your Portfolio

Building a strong portfolio is essential for showcasing your skills and attracting opportunities as a tattoo artist. 

Include a range of styles, subjects, and techniques to demonstrate your versatility. Assemble your best pieces into a well-organized portfolio, both in physical and digital formats. Highlight your attention to detail, creativity, and ability to adapt to different artistic challenges. 

Regularly update your portfolio as you create new work, ensuring it reflects your evolving skills and unique style. 

Build Your PortfolioBuild Your Portfolio

5. Obtain Licensure

Obtaining licensure is one of the requirements to be a tattoo artist, as it ensures compliance with health and safety regulations and legal conditions.

Research the specific licensing regulations in your locality, as they can vary. Typically, you’ll need to complete training in bloodborne pathogens and first aid, both of which are essential for maintaining a safe working environment. Attend relevant workshops or courses to acquire the necessary certifications. Once you’ve fulfilled the requirements, submit your application for licensure to the appropriate local health department or governing body. 

Regularly stay informed about any updates or changes in regulations to ensure ongoing compliance throughout your career as a licensed tattoo artist.

6. Market and Advertise Your Services

The question of how to be a tattoo artist depends not only on your ability to do service, but also to promote them. Effective marketing and advertising is crucial for establishing a successful career. 

Market and Advertise Your Services

  • Begin by creating a strong online presence through a professional website and social media profiles. 
  • Showcase your portfolio, provide information about your artistic style, and include contact details for potential clients.
  • Collaborate with local businesses, such as tattoo supply stores, to cross-promote your services. 
  • Attend community events, art shows, and tattoo conventions to network with potential clients and other artists.
  • Offer promotions or discounts for first-time clients to attract new ones. 
  • Encourage satisfied clients to leave reviews and testimonials, as positive word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool in the tattoo industry.

Building a strong reputation through consistent quality work and positive client experiences is one of the most effective forms of marketing.

7. Continue Developing Your Skills

Continuing to develop your skills is a lifelong commitment in the dynamic field of tattoo artistry. Stay engaged with the latest trends, techniques, and technologies by attending workshops, conferences, and industry events. Network with fellow artists, share experiences, and learn from their insights.

Experiment with new styles, subjects, and mediums to keep your work fresh and innovative. Push your creative boundaries, take on challenging projects, and embrace the opportunity to learn from both successes and setbacks.

Consider seeking feedback from peers, mentors, and clients to gain valuable perspectives on your work. Also, stay open to constructive criticism, as it can be a catalyst for growth and improvement.

Continue Developing Your Skills

How Much Does a Tattoo Artist Make?

The income of a tattoo artist can vary widely depending on factors such as experience, skill level, location, clientele, and whether they work in a studio or as a freelancer. Let’s talk about it in more detail.

Studio Employment 

For many tattoo artists, studio employment serves as an invaluable starting point and a pathway to professional growth.

  • Apprentice/junior artists

In the early stages of a career, apprentice or junior tattoo artists may earn a modest income. Entry-level artists often receive a percentage of the tattoo’s cost, typically ranging from 40% to 60%. Annual earnings can vary widely but may fall within the range of $20,000 to $40,000.

  • Experienced artists

As artists gain experience and build a clientele, their earning potential increases. Established tattoo artists working in reputable studios can earn an annual income ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on factors like demand for their work and the studio’s location.

  • Highly skilled/popular artists

Highly skilled and renowned tattoo artists may command higher rates and potentially earn well into the six-figure range. Their income can be influenced by factors such as celebrity clientele, participation in international tattoo conventions, and collaborations with other artists.

How Much Does a Tattoo Artist Make?


This mode of working provides the autonomy to explore diverse projects and collaborate with various clients and studios.

  • Per-tattoo pricing

Freelance tattoo artists often set their own prices per tattoo. Rates can vary widely based on factors such as the artist’s skill, popularity, and geographic location. Freelancers might earn anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars per hour, depending on their expertise.

  • Event and convention earnings

Freelancers may supplement their income by participating in tattoo events, conventions, or guest spots at different studios. These opportunities can provide additional income beyond regular studio work.

It’s important to note that these figures are general estimates, and individual earnings can vary. Additionally, factors like tips, merchandise sales, and additional services (such as piercing) can contribute to a tattoo artist’s overall income. 

If you’re interested in how to open a tattoo studio but are still unsure of where to begin, our guide is here to assist you. It provides a wealth of information, from figuring out the essentials to understanding the financial requirements.
Event and convention earnings


Becoming a tattoo artist is an artistic endeavor that requires a combination of passion, skill, and dedication. Their role extends beyond creating beautiful designs; it involves understanding client needs, mastering various tattooing techniques, and adhering to strict hygiene and safety standards.

Understanding the responsibilities of a tattoo artist, from the initial consultation to the final product, is crucial for aspiring individuals in this field. Developing a strong portfolio, apprenticing under experienced artists, and continually refining one’s skills are essential steps on the path to success. 

And remember — becoming a tattoo artist is not just a profession; it’s a lifelong commitment to the art of self-expression that requires continuous learning and improvement. 


? What Do Tattoo Artists Do?

Tattoo artists create permanent designs on the skin using needles and ink. They work closely with clients to understand their preferences and provide guidance on design choices. Additionally, they ensure a clean and safe environment, following proper hygiene and sterilization procedures.

? What Qualifications Are Needed To Become a Tattoo Artist?

While formal education is not always required, a strong artistic background is essential. Many successful tattoo artists have completed art or design-related courses. A health and safety certification is also necessary.

⏳ How Long Does It Take To Become a Tattoo Artist?

The timeline varies, but it generally takes several years to become a proficient tattoo artist. This includes the time spent honing artistic skills, building a portfolio, and completing an apprenticeship. Patience and dedication are crucial during this learning process.

? How Can I Build a Successful Career as a Tattoo Artist?

Focus on developing a unique style, building a strong portfolio, and establishing a positive reputation in the tattoo community. Attend industry events, network with other artists, and stay updated on the latest trends and techniques.


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