A career as a tattoo artist has the potential to be both lucrative and fulfilling. After all, what other career enables you to flex your creative and artistic muscles on a daily basis? Few careers measure up in this aspect.
The question you might have, though, is how to go about becoming a tattoo artist. On one hand, you could work as an apprentice and learn on the job. On the other hand, you could attend a tattoo artist school and build a good base of knowledge prior to starting your career.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the latter option, helping you decide whether attending tattoo school is right for you. Let’s go!
Tattoo School vs. Apprenticeship
When it comes to becoming a tattoo artist, you have two general options. One option is to become an apprentice. The other is to attend a tattoo school. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of each below.
The Pros of Doing a Tattoo Apprenticeship
A tattoo apprenticeship is essentially a long period of on-the-job training. You’ll work beside a seasoned tattoo artist, learning the ropes in a real-world environment.
One of the pros of this is that, generally speaking, it costs you no money. In fact, in some cases, you’ll actually be paid. That said, it probably won’t be a living wage.
Another pro is that you’ll get hands-on experience. Working in a tattoo shop every day will make you comfortable with the job and the environment, helping you to better transition to a full-time tattoo artist gig when the time comes.
The Cons of Doing a Tattoo Apprenticeship
While doing a tattoo apprenticeship can be highly beneficial, there are cons to doing them. The most glaring con is that, in most cases, they don’t pay.
Now, you might be thinking: tattoo schools don’t pay, either. No, but they’re not as time-consuming.
Therefore, they make it easy for you to have jobs on the side. This isn’t often the case with apprenticeships, which can make it difficult to take on other jobs.
In addition, apprenticeships aren’t regulated in any way. Their quality is highly dependent on the quality of the leading tattoo artist.
If they take you under their wing and put serious effort into training you, they can be highly beneficial. If they’re lax about their training of you, you could have serious holes in your skill and knowledge bases.
In essence, apprenticeships are inconsistent. They can be great. On the other hand, they can be awful as well.
The Pros of Tattoo Artist School
The pros of attending a tattoo artist school are many. As a school is more regulated than your standard apprenticeship, it’s going to offer a much more consistent experience.
For one, tattoo artist schools offer established curricula. They’re formally structured so as to provide as much and as thorough information as possible. When you’re finished with a tattoo artist school, you’ll have a full understanding of what tattooing entails.
You’ll even have a grasp on the history and culture of tattoos. This can help you to better understand the importance of tattoos as they pertain to society and people as individuals.
In addition to providing consistent and regulated curricula, tattoo artist schools also enable you to have a life outside of them. They’re nowhere near as time-consuming as apprenticeships and therefore will allow you to work a full-time job outside of them. This is hugely important, as you have to be able to pay the bills, of course.
It should also be noted that many tattoo artist schools will work with you to ensure that you can afford their tuition. For instance, they might have reduced tuition costs or payment plans.
Another benefit of these schools is that they fast-track your learning experience. Whereas an apprenticeship has you learning tattooing techniques over the span of years, these schools often do the same for you in a matter of months.
The final pro we’re going to discuss is that tattoo artist schools come with less pressure. They put you in classes of peers in which you’re all learning tattooing techniques for the first time. This enables you to slowly work your way into the profession.
Apprenticeships don’t offer this. Instead, they essentially throw you into the fire from day one.
The Cons of Tattoo Artist School
Tattoo artist school comes with many pros. However, it has its cons, the most obvious of which is a lack of real-world experience. Unlike apprenticeships, tattoo artist schools don’t have you working in shops or with actual customers.
There’s also, of course, the issue of money. Attending a tattoo artist school is going to cost you anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000.
It’s important to note, however, that this tuition essentially ensures that you’re properly schooled in the techniques of tattooing. Therefore, once you’re finished, you can instantly seek out employment. So, yes, while you will pay some money upfront, you’ll quickly make it back once you start your career.
There is one last con to attending tattoo artist school: you might have to move in order to attend. Of course, this depends on your location, as well as on the locations of the schools around you.
The Benefits of Becoming a Tattoo Artist
There are numerous benefits to becoming a tattoo artist. Some of the most prominent of these benefits include the following:
Being Able to Create Art for a Living
The stereotype of the starving artist exists for a reason: it’s incredibly difficult to make money with your art. Sure, it’s possible, but it takes a lot of hard work, not to mention connections and luck.
This is where the profession of a tattoo artist can make an impact, however. Tattoo artists are, of course, artists. And because tattoos have become so popular, tattoo artists are generally able to find steady work.
Not only do you have the potential to make a living as a self-employed or freelance tattoo artist but as a full-time tattoo artist as well. The average salary for a tattoo artist is currently around $62,000. This makes it a fairly lucrative career overall.
Having a Flexible Schedule
Depending on your work situation, you have the potential to have a flexible work schedule. In fact, many tattoo artists effectively work as freelancers. This means that they find their own clients and then book them as desired.
Of course, there are also full-time positions available that include more stringent work hours. But if you want a life of flexibility, it’s available as a tattoo artist.
Ability to Work Around People
Are you a people person? If so, a career as a tattoo artist may suit you well. Tattoo artists work around other people on a regular basis.
And it’s not just people that you work around but a variety of people at that, each of which has their own background and story to tell. You’ll, of course, have ample opportunity to speak with these people, and you will get to learn a lot in the process.
In short, you’ll never have a boring day on the job. Each day presents a new person and a new challenge as well.
A Sense of Community
The last benefit we’ll discuss is a sense of community. Becoming a tattoo artist puts you in a group of small but like-minded individuals. You’ll likely make friends with many of these individuals and will have the opportunity to grow your skills around people who support and inspire you.
This is something that can make a career as a tattoo artist extremely fulfilling. It’s what separates it from just another job.
Tattoo artist becomes one because they love art and tattoos, not because they’re trying to make a boatload of money. They’re passionate about what they do, and that passion is sure to rub off on you over time.
Interested in Attending Tattoo Artist School?
What do you think? Is tattoo artist school the right decision for you? If so and if you’re looking for a tattoo academy in Florida, look no further than Florida Tattoo Academy.
Our tattoo training program consists of 11 parts, each of which lasts a week. We’ll teach you not only about the technical aspects of tattooing but also the history of tattoos and more.
Any questions? Contact us now!