Is Becoming a Traveling Tattoo Artist Worth It?

traveling tattoo artist
Discover the exciting world of traveling tattoo artists. Learn about the benefits, challenges, and tips for taking your tattooing career on the road.

Becoming a traveling tattoo artist is an opportunity to break free from the confines of a fixed location and combine your artistic career with a passion for exploration. If you always feel like sitting still is not for you, going mobile can indeed be a very alluring, even though unconventional path. In this article, we wanted to figure out how easy it is for an artist to tattoo while traveling.

We’ll begin by examining the advantages and professional risks of being a traveling tattoo artist, helping you weigh your options before committing to a traveling lifestyle. If you feel ready to hit the road, don’t miss out on these 4 practical tips that can save you time and money and make your journey more enjoyable. Finally, if you’re considering setting up a mobile tattoo shop, there are several considerations you need to make, including reviewing the local regulations. Stay tuned to learn how to start your venture on the right foot.

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Would you like to hear insightful and inspirational stories from world-class tattoo masters? That’s what you can do if you visit the interviews section on InkMatch, where we regularly publish conversations with creators from around the globe, from the US to South Korea and Brazil.

3 Reasons To Become a Traveling Tattoo Artist

3 Reasons To Become a Traveling Tattoo Artist

There can be many reasons why a tattoo artist may decide to embrace a traveling lifestyle, including personal ones. Of course, a lot depends on the kind of travel plans you have. Do you want to visit a specific list of places before getting back home or plan to travel until you get bored? In any case, we highlighted the 3 benefits mobile tattoo artists enjoy.

Unrivaled Source of Inspiration

If you think about it, the most common reason why people hate their jobs is the routine. Having to perform the same tasks over and over again is exhausting and often overshadows the job aspects you love. In this sense, traveling tattoo artists can feel safeโ€”constantly being on the road maintains the excitement of the tattooing process.

The environment you’re in changes frequently, people working alongside you change as well, and clients who come to see your art will certainly look for something unique and exclusive, so you probably won’t have any repetitive designs on your desk. Each new location brings unique cultural influences, artistic styles, and beauty of nature that can shape your work and become an abundant source of inspiration.

Huge Potential for Creative Growth

Traveling tattoo artists often cooperate with artists from renowned tattoo studios and participate in prestigious tattoo conventions. Every such interaction is a unique opportunity to share experiences and learn from fellow tattoo artists. Becoming a traveling tattoo artist can provide your career with a powerful creative boost.

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If the idea of traveling to international tattoo conventions sounds exciting to you, check out the interview with an award-winning artist Monchi, where he shares his success recipe.

On top of that, collaborations can help you create a vast and lasting network of established artists. There might be people who could help you with a piece of advice, a helpful reference, or even mentorship. Professional connections are truly invaluable, and traveling is arguably the best way of meeting such people.

Huge Potential for Creative Growth

Feeling of Freedom and Flexibility

One of the most compelling reasons to become a traveling tattoo artist is the freedom and flexibility it offers. If you want to have more control over when and how you work, going mobile can help you achieve that. Without direct supervision, you have the autonomy to set your own schedule, choose your destinations, and adjust the work-life balance in a way that suits you best.

Professional Risks You Should Be Aware of

Yet, despite all these benefits, switching from a traditional work style to a travel mode is a big decision, and it is not necessarily a good choice for everyone. If you want to become a traveling tattoo artist, you must be ready for a couple of risks associated with it.

Struggle of Getting Guest Spots

Securing guest spots at reputable tattoo shops can be challenging, especially for artists who are new to the tattoo industry. Clients will associate their experiences with the tattoo shop, whether they were tattooed by a guest artist or someone from the original roster. Unsurprisingly, the hosting studio wants to protect its reputation by ensuring that the traveling artist they invite is talented and experienced.

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In general, it is believed that at least 2โ€“3 years of practice are required to develop a solid tattooing technique. You will need to show a remarkable track record to be confident that tattoo shops will welcome you.

Your success at getting guest spots as a traveling tattoo artist depends on your personality as much as on your skills. Tattoo shops are looking for reliable artists who will be respectful to their customers, keep up with high hygiene standards, and get along with other artists in the studio. A bit further in the article, we’ll give a few helpful tips on how you can facilitate building trust with hosting tattoo shop owners.

Struggle of Getting Guest Spots

Budget Constraints

Unfortunately, traveling is not cheap, so careful financial planning is essential for mobile tattoo artists. Costs associated with transportation, accommodation, food, and equipment maintenance can add up really quickly. Of course, a lot depends on your mode of travel (you can go by plane, car, or even a mobile tattoo truck). In any case, without the stability of a permanent studio, you may face periods of inconsistent income, so you should carefully plan your workload and prices to ensure your journey is economically viable.

Increased Responsibility

On one hand, gaining independence as a traveling tattoo artist is a big plus, but this also means that you assume greater responsibility for your operations. If you are currently working as an employee and are considering getting on the road, you should make sure that you can handle all the legal and marketing aspects of a tattoo business. It is important to dedicate time to studying local regulations and marketing your services. This is not an impossible task, of course, yet doing all of this on your own requires excellent organizational skills and notable self-discipline.

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One of the biggest legal aspects of a traveling tattoo artist’s work is the insurance. Check out this article about different tattoo insurance types to learn what kind of protection you need and how much it costs.

Difficulty Settling in the New Environment

This aspect is rather subjective, yet it is still worth consideration. A new environment can inspire your creativity, but it also means going outside your comfort zone. Some traveling tattoo artists struggle to settle in the new location and might take a long time to adapt. Usually, this feeling comes from the change of space where you work. It is like trying to work from another person’s roomโ€”it feels unusual in the beginning, but eventually, you get used to it.

4 Tips for Traveling Tattoo Artists

4 Tips for Traveling Tattoo Artists

When you contemplate a career as a traveling tattoo artist, preparation is the most crucial part. We compiled a list of 4 helpful tips you need to consider before starting the journey.

๐ŸŽจ Work on your style and clientele

The most important component of your success in getting guest spots in tattoo shops is refining your tattooing style and building a strong portfolio that showcases your best work. Reputable tattoo shops look for experienced artists who can prove both the quality of their work and respectable customer relationships, therefore, great reviews from your clients are essential. Also, having a distinct tattoo style will add exclusivity to your offer and make your guest spot more attractive for both tattoo shops and clients.  

๐Ÿค Try to get personal recommendations

Usually, there is no shortage of tattoo shops offering guest spots, however, many prefer giving those spots to the artists they already know. In such a situation, the best chance you have is to get a recommendation from another artist with a good reputation, ideally connected to the tattoo shop you want to cooperate with. Positive word of mouth from a colleague is incredibly important because it shows your potential host that you can handle business relationships and backstage work professionally.

It is not unheard of for tattoo shop owners to reach out to the former employers of traveling tattoo artists to get an idea of what kind of person they are. In this sense, it is good to create as many positive connections as possible and avoid speaking badly about people you used to work with.

๐Ÿค Try to get personal recommendations

๐Ÿ  Find a suitable tattoo shop

Just like your host studio will try to find out more about you before allowing you to take the guest spot, you should conduct research to understand which tattoo shop you want to visit. Traveling tattoo artists are looking for reputable, clean studios with respectful employees and professional management.

Start by checking whether guest spots are announced on their website or social media pages, and contact the studio owner to introduce yourself and clarify the details. Ask questions about the shop’s workload, prices, supplies, scheduling, and hygiene rules. It is crucial to ensure that there will be no toxic competition between the artists and confirm that you and the shop are on the same page regarding the terms of your guest work.

โœˆ๏ธ Prepare your equipment for traveling

Preparing your equipment for transportation is an important part of the preparation for the journey. Not being able to work because of a missing piece of equipment would be very annoying, so a mobile tattoo artist should carefully plan what they will take on the road and what the hosting tattoo shop will supply.

At a minimum, you are expected to have your own tattoo machine and spare parts for it, but you should also consider taking a collection of inks, needles, aftercare products, etc. Make sure that you have a reliable and secure tattoo supply case to transport all the required items.

Is It Possible to Tattoo in a Truck?

Thatโ€™s how a tattoo truck can look like

Thatโ€™s how a tattoo truck can look like

The idea of setting up a full-scale mobile tattoo shop sounds exciting, and it is a viable option in many, but not all, states. A “tattoo truck,” is a cool way of bringing your services directly to clients and exploring new locations. However, there are several key considerations to ensure itโ€™s both practical and professional.

  • – The tattoo truck should be spacious enough to fit a tattoo chair, artist’s chair, lighting, and other essential equipment.

  • – The workspace must adhere to strict hygiene standards. This includes easy-to-clean surfaces, proper waste disposal, and a reliable water supply for sanitation purposes.

  • – Tattooing laws vary from state to state, and some states even prohibit mobile tattooing. For example, you can get a permit to operate a tattoo truck in California, but not Maine or Florida. It is important to contact a legal expert from the area you plan on visiting to better understand local regulations and receive necessary permits.

Summary

As you can see, becoming a traveling tattoo artist is a way of transforming your career and finding new sources of inspiration and creative growth. Generally, going mobile works better for experienced artists with refined styles and established clientele. On the contrary, it might be too hard for novices to overcome the professional risks of mobile tattooing.

Also, using these 4 tips for traveling tattoo artists, tattoo professionals can better prepare for the journey and avoid unnecessary mistakes like getting stuck in tattoo shops with toxic competition or being unable to work due to a lack of critical tattoo supplies. On top of that, we have mentioned a few important considerations for those who want to start tattooing in a truck.

Thank you for reading this article! We hope that our research will help you make your journey as a traveling tattoo artist as smooth as possible!

FAQ

๐Ÿค” Can You Travel as a Tattoo Artist?

Yes, becoming a traveling tattoo artist is possible and can be an exciting opportunity to avoid an exhausting routine and find new sources of inspiration.

โ“ Can You Become a Traveling Tattoo Artist With Minimal Experience?

It is important to refine your tattoo style and build clientele before starting the journey. Otherwise, you might struggle to land guest spots because, very often, tattoo shops will not want to risk their reputation by inviting somebody whom they don’t know well.

๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ How Should You Prepare for a Journey as a Traveling Tattoo Artist?

We highlighted 4 things a traveling tattoo artist should do before getting on the road, including building a clientele and getting personal recommendations from other artists.

๐Ÿš— Can You Set up a Tattoo Truck?

Laws regarding tattoo trucks differ between states, and not every state allows mobile tattoo studios. However, if it is legally possible, you should consider a few details to make your setup work.

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