Careers for Artistic People: Should I Be A Tattooist?

salary of a tattoo artist

Are you an artistic soul with a serious commitment to visual art? Are you looking for careers for artistic people that will allow your talent to shine?

As pandemic restrictions have lifted, clients have been flooding tattoo shops all over the country. Getting inked is way less stigmatized than it has ever been, the desire for tattoos is high, and that means that there’s plenty of room for new tattooists.

If you’ve considered tattooing as a possible artistic career, we’re excited for you. We also have a lot to dish to help you decide if that’s truly the right path.

Read on as we talk about tattooing as a career for artists, what to consider, and how to get there.

Careers for Artistic People: Is Tattooing the Right Fit?

There are plenty of artistic and social careers to consider, from graphic design to animation to illustration and beyond. How do you know if tattooing is the right artistic career for you? Let’s look at some of the signs that you might be cut out for the world of tattooing.

You Love to Draw

Do you spend tons of time at the sketch pad working on new doodles or drawings? Do you genuinely love to create designs and illustrations and to see your work improve over time? Tattooists are serious artists that dedicate long hours to drawing and inking designs every single week, so if you don’t consider art a true passion and driving force, you may get burnt out quickly.

You’re Committed to Learning

Let’s talk about the “improving” part a little bit more. No one expects you to produce masterful tattoos from the moment you enter the studio, but they do expect to see a commitment to learning. That means learning new drawing techniques as well as tattooing techniques that will help you to grow, even within your specific style.

You’re Not Squeamish

Remember, your canvas as a tattooist will be the human body, which means that you’re going to see blood and, potentially, other bodily fluids. It also means that you’re going to see varying degrees of exposure, and you need to behave appropriately when you do. If you’re squeamish or embarrassed about things like blood and partial nudity, you won’t get a lot of enjoyment out of this line of work.

You Have Strong People Skills

As a tattooist, you would encounter all sorts of people–some who may need a little extra comfort, some who may prefer radio silence, and some who, quite frankly, need to be told “no.” Tattooists thrive when they have strong people skills and strong convictions. You want to make sure that your clients feel welcomed and respect your boundaries, and you want to avoid enabling bad decisions.

You’re Ready to Take a Potential Pay Cut

Is tattooing one of the high-paying artistic careers? The honest answer is tattooing can become quite lucrative, but it won’t be at the beginning–and may not be for a long time.

Whether you’re working as a contractor or considered an employee of your shop, you aren’t making an hourly wage. If you have dry spells where you don’t book many appointments or you’re offering small, low-cost pieces, you won’t get a financial cushion from the shop. To start making real money as a tattooist, you’re going to have to give it your all and do what it takes to be able to charge more money for high-quality and large-scale pieces.

How to Become a Tattooist

If all of this checks out so far, welcome aboard! You’re on your way to becoming a future tattooist. Now, let’s talk about the steps to take to make that dream a reality.

Get an Education

What kind of education does a tattooist need? The good news is that you don’t have to go the traditional route of pursuing a four-year university degree (although you can if you want to). Instead, you can sign up for tattooist courses that will cover things like tattoo history and modern-day tattoo equipment, provide hands-on experience, and give you a safe and monitored place to practice your trade.

Work on Your Portfolio

While you’re completing your tattooist courses, you can get to work on your portfolio. A good portfolio for a new artist should include about 70-90 tattoo designs that demonstrate range while also establishing your particular style. You can use your portfolio to secure an apprenticeship but also to inspire clients and show them what you’ve got.

Get an Apprenticeship

When it comes time to secure an apprenticeship (a must in the world of tattooing), start by researching reputable tattoo shops in your area. If possible, find one that has had apprentices in the past who have gone on to find success as paid, established tattooists. If they give you your choice, pick a mentor who inspires you and that you believe will help you to grow as an artist. 

Consider a Mobile Career

Nowadays, a lot of tattooists build up an online reputation and then travel to different shops across the country. Becoming a mobile tattoo artist is a great way to create a legendary career, meet tons of industry members, and have a great time. It’s certainly not a requirement, but it’s something worth considering if you’ve always wanted a career that enables traveling.

Still Thinking About Tattooing? Sign Up for Our Courses

There are tons of careers for artistic people but none of them are quite like tattooing. If you’re feeling good about pursuing a career as a tattooist, we want to help.

The Florida Tattoo Academy is committed to providing a high-quality education for all budding tattoo artists. To learn more about what we offer, contact us and schedule a tour of the school.