How to Become a Professional Tattoo Artist

How to Become a Professional Tattoo Artist

Are you passionate about art and looking to turn your love for tattoos into a rewarding career? Becoming a professional tattoo artist requires dedication, skill, and creativity. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the steps you need to take to become a successful tattoo artist, including training, apprenticeships, building a portfolio, and establishing your own tattoo studio. Whether you are just starting out or looking to advance your career in the industry, we have all the information you need to become a professional tattoo artist.

Education and Training

Becoming a professional tattoo artist requires a combination of education and training to excel in this field. There are several pathways to gain the necessary skills and knowledge, including apprenticeships, formal art education, and health and safety training.


One of the most common ways to become a professional tattoo artist is through an apprenticeship. This hands-on training allows aspiring artists to learn directly from experienced professionals in a real tattoo studio. During an apprenticeship, individuals will learn about proper tattooing techniques, equipment sterilization, client care, and more. This immersive learning experience is invaluable for those looking to start a career in the tattoo industry.

Formal Art Education

While not always necessary, formal art education can be beneficial for aspiring tattoo artists. Attending art school or taking courses in drawing, design, and color theory can help individuals develop their artistic skills and creativity. A strong foundation in art fundamentals can set aspiring tattoo artists apart from the competition and provide them with the tools they need to create unique and high-quality designs.

Health and Safety Training

Health and safety training is a crucial aspect of becoming a professional tattoo artist. Individuals must learn how to properly sterilize equipment, maintain a clean work environment, and prevent the spread of infections and diseases. Understanding the importance of hygiene and safety practices is essential for protecting both the artist and their clients. Many tattoo studios require artists to complete health and safety training before they can start working, so it is important for aspiring tattoo artists to prioritize this aspect of their education and training.

Developing Artistic Skills

Becoming a professional tattoo artist requires a high level of artistic skill. Here are some tips to help you improve your craft:

Practice Drawing

One of the best ways to develop your artistic skills is to practice drawing regularly. This will help you improve your ability to create detailed and intricate designs, which is essential for creating high-quality tattoos.

Experiment with Different Styles

To become a versatile tattoo artist, it’s important to experiment with different styles of art. Try working in different mediums, such as watercolor or black ink, and explore various design aesthetics to expand your artistic repertoire.

Attend Workshops and Conventions

Attending workshops and conventions is a great way to learn from experienced artists and gain valuable insights into the tattoo industry. You’ll have the opportunity to network with professionals, learn new techniques, and stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the field.

Building a Portfolio

As a professional tattoo artist, having a strong portfolio is essential to showcase your skills and attract potential clients. Here are some tips to help you build a standout portfolio:

Create Diverse Artwork

It’s important to demonstrate your versatility as a tattoo artist by showcasing a variety of styles and designs in your portfolio. Experiment with different techniques, themes, and subject matter to show potential clients that you can handle a wide range of tattoo requests.

Showcase Your Work Online

In today’s digital age, having an online presence is crucial for attracting clients and growing your business. Create a professional website or social media profiles to showcase your portfolio to a wider audience. Make sure to regularly update your online portfolio with high-quality images of your latest work to keep potential clients engaged.

Participate in Tattoo Competitions

Participating in tattoo competitions is a great way to gain recognition in the industry and showcase your skills to a wider audience. Winning or placing in competitions can help boost your credibility as a professional tattoo artist and attract more clients to your studio. Make sure to include any awards or accolades you have received in your portfolio to highlight your accomplishments.

Gaining Experience

Becoming a professional tattoo artist requires gaining valuable experience in the industry. Here are some ways to enhance your skills and expertise:

Work in a Tattoo Shop

One of the best ways to gain practical experience as a tattoo artist is by working in a tattoo shop. By working alongside experienced artists, you can learn the techniques, tools, and safety protocols necessary for successful tattooing. You will also have the opportunity to observe different styles and approaches to tattooing, which can help you develop your own unique style.

Attend Tattoo Conventions

Tattoo conventions are excellent places to network with other artists, learn new techniques, and showcase your work. By attending these events, you can connect with industry professionals, participate in workshops and seminars, and stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the tattooing world. Additionally, you may have the chance to enter tattoo competitions and gain recognition for your skills.

Collaborate with Other Artists

Collaborating with other artists is a great way to expand your skills and creativity. By working with artists from different backgrounds and styles, you can learn new techniques, gain fresh perspectives, and push the boundaries of your artistic abilities. Collaborations can also help you build a strong portfolio and establish your reputation in the tattooing community.

By actively seeking out opportunities to gain experience in the tattoo industry, you can improve your skills, expand your network, and work towards becoming a successful professional tattoo artist.

Getting Licensed and Certified

Becoming a professional tattoo artist requires obtaining the necessary licenses and certifications. Here are some steps to help you get started in the industry.

Meet Licensing Requirements

Each state has its own requirements for becoming a licensed tattoo artist. This may include completing a certain number of training hours at a reputable tattoo school, passing a written exam, and demonstrating your skills through a portfolio review. Be sure to research the specific licensing requirements in your state to ensure you are on the right track.

Obtain Bloodborne Pathogens Certification

Working with needles and ink poses a risk of transmitting bloodborne pathogens, so it is crucial for tattoo artists to be certified in bloodborne pathogens training. This certification ensures that you are knowledgeable about proper sanitation and sterilization techniques to prevent the spread of infections in your studio.

Stay Updated on Regulations

Tattoo regulations can vary by state and are subject to change, so it is important to stay informed about any updates or changes to the laws governing the tattoo industry. This may include staying current on health and safety guidelines, licensing requirements, and any other regulations that may impact your practice. By staying informed, you can ensure that you are operating within the legal boundaries of your profession and providing a safe environment for your clients.


Becoming a professional tattoo artist requires dedication, passion, and continuous learning. By following the steps outlined in this article, such as getting a formal education, apprenticing under an experienced artist, and building a strong portfolio, you can set yourself on the path to success in this competitive industry. Remember to always prioritize safety and hygiene, stay up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques, and never stop honing your craft. With hard work and perseverance, you can turn your love for tattooing into a fulfilling and lucrative career as a professional tattoo artist.