From Sketching to Skin: Why Artists Make the Best Tattooists

A natural foundation for any tattoo artist is having a strong eye for shape, color, and line work. Find out why artists make the best tattooists!

Tattoo culture is alive and well in America, with around 36% of people between the ages of 18-29 having at least one tattoo. After all, they’re a significant form of self-expression. Tattooing is also the 6th fastest growing industry in America and over the next 10 years, should grow by about 8% annually.

But what makes a great tattoo artist? Is it their natural ability or their attention to detail? What about their understanding of form, color, and shade? These all sound a lot like things an artist would know about.

Artists make for some of the best tattooists and we’re here to tell you why.

All About Artists

Artists, a word that comes with some level of stigma, though we’ve never understood why. An artist is anyone who paints, draws, or makes works of art with their hands. Even then, there are exceptions. Essentially, an artist is someone who shows a creative aptitude for their work. 

They’re typically more open-minded, able to express themselves in creative ways, and find joy and fulfillment in pursuing their creative skills. An artist doesn’t have to be formally trained, and with the wealth of information out there, it’s easier than ever to train yourself to draw. Artists are also exceptionally focused, honing their craft, never entirely satisfied. 

Sound familiar? You’re in the right place.

Why Artists Make Great Tattooists

It’s not just about being able to draw. Artists understand light and shadow, form, and figure. They understand color and have a strong sense of aesthetics, which is a big draw in the tattoo industry. Artists also tend to have steady hands, which we all know is a must when etching permanently into a person’s skin.

Artists also understand the value and sentiment behind their work. It’s not just about the design, but what it means. And of course, tattoos don’t have to have a meaning, they can just be beautiful for beauty’s sake. An artist will understand that, probably more than anyone!

The Key to Being a Great Tattoo Artist

It’s not all about technical talent, though that obviously plays a significant role. The more technical control someone has, the better they’ll be able to realize the most incredible artworks. But there’s more to it. Some great tattoo artist traits will take you a long way, and these are just a few: 

  • Artistic skill
  • Understanding of health and safety
  • People skills
  • Endurance and concentration
  • Adaptability
  • Attention to detail
  • Work ethic

The road to being a successful tattoo artist is paved with good intentions, but what really gets you to your goals is determination, a natural creative flair, and the ability to adapt. Not only that, but sometimes an artist needs to sit for hours on end working on a piece, which can be exceptionally taxing on the body. 

Make sure you’re staying fit and stretching out between sessions. The last thing you need is a cramped hand or shoulders that feel like they’re made of bricks. Finally, as a tattoo artist, you’ll be working with people day in and day out. Without excellent communication skills, both you and your client are going to feel the burden of long sessions.

We’re not saying you need to chat constantly with your client, but making sure they’re okay and checking in with them intermittently is really important. When you combine these tattoo artist requirements, you’ve got a much better shot at producing a great tattoo.

What Makes a Good Tattoo? 

For those outside of the industry, it’s challenging to distinguish a good tattoo from a bad one. Thankfully, there are some key points you can look out for, and it is something your clients should look for too. These are namely:

  • Saturation
  • Linework
  • Composition
  • Healing
  • Placement
  • Contrast
  • Proportions
  • Detail
  • Legibility

A good tattoo should have richly saturated areas of black, color, and shading. There shouldn’t be any gaps in the ink when it heals, and similarly, the level of contrast should be strong and bold. Where there are lines, they should be crisp and consistent, and this is something pivotal to practice.

Composition and placement are also undervalued, especially if someone is having work done around existing tattoos. A piece should flow well and be placed appropriately. We don’t want crooked or incorrectly scaled pieces.

Finally, the level of detail and legibility in a tattoo is super important. Details can take what would have been an average tattoo to something extraordinary. And you want those tattoos to be clear, legible (if there are words), and easy to identify. 

How Can an Artist Achieve That?

Luckily, artists already have a lot of these skills! An artist will understand the value of tone and contrast, and know what colors will work best together. Beyond that, it’s all about practice, patience, and unparalleled dedication. Even those with the best pen-to-paper skills won’t necessarily have good tattoo drawing skills. 

It is, after all, a whole new medium. With that comes the need for learning and training, two very valuable things which good tattoo artists should be doing throughout their careers.

Skin as Canvas, Not as Practice

Being a great artist doesn’t mean you’ll have great tattoo skills. In fact, some of the best tattooists in the world learned as they worked. But with that in mind, you’ve already got a head start on them. With your natural creative talent and artistic ability, and the right training, you could be opening your own studio and making a name for yourself in no time.

We provide some of the best tattoo training out there, and our credentials speak for themselves. Looking to become a tattoo artist? You’ve come to the right place! Contact us today and take your first steps to a new career.