Starting a new career can be daunting for anyone and new tattoo artists are not exempt from that scary feeling. Being a professional tattoo artist can be a lucrative business, but you must become established by developing a good reputation not only as an artist, but as a tattoo artist as well.
In every career, it is wise to listen to the veterans who have already made the mistakes. If you are lucky enough to find a mentor, you will certainly build a good reputation by listening to your mentor and taking any advice you can get.
These are a few tips for beginning tattoo artists from the veterans:
- Take care of yourself. The first tip for any new tattoo artist is to take care of yourself and your tattooing equipment. Since tattooing involves blood and other body fluids, you should always cover your eyes with protective glasses and your hands with protective gloves. It is advisable to get the proper insurance and legal waivers from all of your clients; and, while you’re getting their waivers, check their ID’s, too. Keep your tattoo supplies sterilized and always have supplies on hand so you are prepared to work.
- Give good advice. When your clients come in to get a tattoo, listen to their ideas. They usually know what they want and where, but if you know that the tattoo and the location will not work well together, let them know. Clients do not always consider the healing process, so you should let them know if their area of choice heals well or not. If they want a tattoo on their face, give honest advice. Remember that your name is going on that tattoo, so be sure you put it in a good place.
- Draw all of the time. When you have any down time, draw. The more drawing you do, the more possibilities you have for great new tattoos. Your clients will ask to see drawings and tattoos that you have done, so be sure to save your favorites in a good looking portfolio. Practice is the best way to hone your skills.
- Get a job at a tattoo shop. Since it is not always easy to get your own shop started if you do not have any experience, you should try to get a job in a shop. You might not get a tattooing job, but even if you start working at a desk or as an assistant, you will be in a tattoo shop where you can learn the ropes. You might be able to get a mentor or work as an apprentice after a while, but you will need to prove yourself through your hard work cleaning up the shop or running the desk and assisting the artists. Think of any job at a tattoo shop as a job application for a position as a tattoo artist. This is a great place to learn about tattoo equipment and tattoo guns.
- Choose a manageable design. New tattoo artists can spoil their reputations by trying to design a tattoo that is too complex. It is best to start small and build your skills as you get more and more practice.
- Get your own tats. Tattoo artists who are not tattooed are like an English teacher who does not like to read. If you are going to make tattooing your career, you should support your fellow artists and get some tattoos. You can even get a tattoo of your favorite drawing to really show the world what you can do.
Written by Andy Lee at The LA Shop