How Long Does It Take to Become a Tattoo Artist?

become a tattoo artist

Did you know that there are more than 31,000 tattoo artist businesses in the United States alone? Becoming a professional tattoo artist can give you the opportunity to explore an art career, but before you can work as a real tattoo artist, you’ll first need to undergo years of training and apprenticeship. That way, you can be sure that you’re a good tattoo artist.

But how long does it take to become a tattoo artist anyway? What kind of training will you need to go through? Is there any way that you can make sure that you’ll become a tattoo artist?

Keep reading and learn all about becoming a tattoo artist. 

How Long Does It Take To Become a Tattoo Artist?

If you’ve ever looked up what it takes to become a tattoo artist, you will notice that no formal education is required. This might make it seem like becoming a tattoo artist is easy. However, this is not quite the case. 

To become a tattoo artist, you still need to build your skills, even if this doesn’t mean you need to go to school to study the art. Most people cannot enter the tattoo business until they train for around two to three years. While this might sound like a long time, keep in mind that tattoos are permanent works of art. 

Once you tattoo a design onto a person’s skin, it will be there for the rest of their lives. The last thing you want is to make a bunch of mistakes when tattooing someone for the first time. After all, having angry customers is not a good way to start a tattoo artist business. 

More than that, learning the tricks of the trade is important for safety. If you don’t use sterilized needles and know how to dispose of tattoo needles correctly, you could easily spread harmful bacteria, which could result in serious infections. Again, this would not be a good start to your tattoo artist business. 

For that reason, you will want to take your time when becoming a tattoo artist.

What You Need to Know

Even if it takes you three years or even more, you should never rush through your studies. If you rush, you’ll never have the chance to really improve on your art and skill. 

Of course, if you aren’t a very skilled tattoo artist, potential customers won’t want to come to you when they want a tattoo. For that reason, try not to worry about how long it will take you to become a tattoo artist. As long as you work on your artistic skills over the years, you will eventually be talented enough to be a very skilled and sought-after tattoo artist. 

But where should you start when it comes to your tattoo artist education? While there isn’t any formal education required, it is still important to educate yourself in the art of tattooing. Many novice tattoo artists begin by building their portfolios and becoming tattoo apprentices. 

Get Your Tattoo Portfolio Together and Become an Apprentice

If you don’t have a portfolio of all of your tattoo-related designs, you’re not going to become a tattoo artist anytime soon. Having a rich portfolio is the first step to becoming an apprentice. From there, you’ll be able to learn all sorts of techniques and skills from more experienced tattoo artists that you would never be able to learn on your own. 

But before you become an apprentice, you will need to show that you are worthy of being an apprentice. That’s where your portfolio comes in. Keep in mind that your portfolio should not be a handful of mediocre sketches that you put together in your free time. 

Instead, your tattoo portfolio is the first impression of your style and talent. For that reason, you’ll want all of your best designs to be compiled in your portfolio. Of course, to build a portfolio in the first place, you will need to start drawing some interesting designs. 

This may take you some time, especially if you often experience creativity blocks. Even so, make sure that you don’t rush through your designs; otherwise, they might not come out as good as you were hoping. Once you start to work on different designs, try to create around 20 to 30 designs. 

This will show that you have a large and varied portfolio and that you are dedicated to your craft. This is important for more experienced tattoo artists to see. That way, these artists might be more likely to accept you as an apprentice. 

The Details

Of course, no professional tattoo artist will accept an aspiring tattoo artist who only has a few sketches and not a lot of dedication. Once you become an apprentice, don’t expect to start tattooing people right away. In fact, tattooing people will be the last thing you will do. 

Instead, during your apprenticeship, you will need to focus on more mundane tasks such as how to use and put together tattoo needles, how to sketch common tattoo designs, and so on. While these tasks focus on the duller part of the tattoo trade, they are still very important, so be sure to pay attention and don’t rush. 

Over the years, you will notice your tattoo skills starting to improve and become more unique. At a certain point, you will finally be able to stop being an apprentice and start being a professional tattoo artist in your own right. As long as you have enough patience and ambition, accomplishing this goal shouldn’t be a problem for you. 

However, some states want tattoo artists to go to a tattoo school rather than getting their education from apprenticeship. Tattoo schools are not colleges are universities but rather independent academies dedicated to teaching the art of tattoos. But what should you expect from a tattoo school, and how does it differ from being a tattoo artist apprentice?

Enrolling in a Tattoo Course

The great thing about enrolling in a tattoo course is that you shouldn’t have any trouble getting accepted. This is unlike getting a tattoo apprenticeship which may require you to go through a lot of rejections before you finally find a professional tattoo artist who will take you on. Another benefit of enrolling in a tattoo course is that you will learn a lot of important information upfront. 

This is unlike a tattoo apprenticeship which tends to take longer and is less focused when it comes to tattoo education. And, of course, some states require you to get educated at a tattoo school rather than from an apprenticeship, so that would simplify your options drastically depending on what state you live in. But what would you learn when taking a tattoo course?

You would learn a lot of the same things you would learn from a tattoo apprenticeship but in a more focused manner. You would also learn more important details. For example, you would learn a lot about the artistic skill required to create a good tattoo. 

To understand this, you would need to learn about the basics of drawing and painting. For example, by mixing certain colors together, you can achieve very unique shades that you wouldn’t be able to buy at a tattoo supply shop. You would also learn different shading techniques. 

What You Would Learn

You should never shade a tattoo (or a drawing or painting) using gray or black. This is because, in reality, shadows are never actually gray or black. Rather, they are a much darker shade of whatever they are affecting.

If you need to shade a tomato, you would use a very dark red instead of black. Besides color theory, you would also learn how to handle tattoo needles, how to dispose of them safely, and which needles you need to use to create certain lines, shades, and designs. You will also learn more about the technical side of things such as what to do if your tattoo machine stops working for seemingly no reason. 

As you learn these skills, you will slowly become more independent and skilled as a tattoo artist. By the end of your education, nothing should stop you from becoming a talented tattoo artist in your own right. 

What You Need to Know About Becoming a Tattoo Artist

How long does it take to become a tattoo artist, you might ask? Usually, it takes around three years, if not longer. This time period is necessary for you to build the skill you need to become a professional tattoo artist. 

That way, you can be confident in your skills, and you won’t make any mistakes. To learn more, contact us here