Not all careers are learned in a school and the only way to enter some careers is through hands on experience. Becoming a tattoo artist requires a lot of hands on training and in order to get that experience you need to find an artist that is willing to take you on as an apprentice. And it doesn’t hurt to have raw talent and drawing skills. As an apprentice you may not get paid very much if at all…. and you will have to do a lot of different tasks around the shop. You won’t be tattooing people right away. Typically an apprenticeship is at least six months.
Circles Magazine spoke to Marc Hafner (Darc Marc) of Hardline Ink and Iron who has been a tattoo artist for 15 years. He told us that you can’t learn tattooing by reading books or watching videos, you have to do it hands on. You learn techniques as you go, you learn the depths of the skin, how heavy you should press, how thin or thick you’re ink should be, how to hold the machine, what angles, etc. It is also a good idea to watch other artists and even go to conventions. He believes in being a well-rounded artist and letting your work speak for itself. Another very important thing Marc told us is that cleanliness of the shop is a big thing.
You definitely want to learn cleanliness, cross contamination problems and things like that, looks are 80% of everything. If you have a shop that’s nasty nobody is going to want to come to it.