Is a Tattoo Artist Career Right for Me?

tattoo artist career

Are you looking forward to starting a new career that will actually fulfill you? Are you considering whether or not a tattoo artist career is the right choice?

Let’s be clear. Not everyone who loves tattoos should become a tattoo artist. Some people are better canvases than artists, and that’s totally okay? So if you’re wondering “Is a tattoo artist career right for me?” you’re already taking a good first step by putting in some research. 

We’re here to talk about the pros and cons of being a tattoo artist, as well as a few qualities that you’ll want to have if you want to be successful. Keep reading for a few ways to know if you’re a future tattoo artist. 

You’re Ready to Work for Yourself

Unlike your office or retail job, when you’re working at a tattoo shop you’re working for yourself. Some artists work as independent contractors while others are employees, but either way, you’re responsible for your own work. 

If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. You won’t make money by sitting around. There’s no specific tattoo artist salary; you get out what you put in

For some people, this is too much responsibility. While some established artists can work short hours with high-end clients, beginners aren’t in this position. They have to work around the clock to draw designs and tattoo clients. 

It’s a lot of work and you’ll leave tired. If it’s right for you, you’ll also leave happy. Does this appeal to you? 

One of the benefits of being a tattoo artist is that you have a high earning potential. Good and established artists with consistent clients can make well over a thousand dollars per week. Some make six figures. 

You don’t get to that point overnight. If you want that money, you need to work for it. There’s no one to promote you or give you more hours. 

tattoo artist career

You Actually Like Art

Too many wannabe tattoo artists want to delve into the industry when they’ve never so much as picked up a pencil. You don’t have to be an expert artist (though it helps), but you should at least know the basics of art and design and have a good eye for what looks right. 

There are things that tattoo artists have to consider that other visual artists don’t. These include the curvature of the body, skin types and tones, and specific styles that a client might have in mind.

When you’re trying to add all of these things to an already shaky foundation, you’re setting yourself up for failure. 

Remember, tattooing might seem like a “cool” career, but if you don’t want to be an artist, it’s not for you. 

You’re Confident and Good With People

Customer service is half of the job when you’re establishing yourself as a respectable tattoo artist. You want your clients to feel comfortable sharing their ideas with you, and you want them to be comfortable in the chair. After all, you’re going to be spending a few hours together. 

If you’re not confident in your own work, even if you’re new, your client won’t be comfortable with you approaching them with your ink and needles. Even if you’re still learning (after all, art is a lifelong process), you need to project confidence. 

There’s a stereotype of tattoo artists being rough and tough, but this isn’t the image that you want to portray. To establish a great client base who want to keep coming back to you, you need to make people feel welcome. 

You’re Not Squeamish or Embarrassed 

So you think you know the art basics and your customer service is top-notch; is that all you need? 

Consider: Are you squeamish around blood or other fluids? Are you comfortable touching people or seeing them undressed? 

Can you stay professional? 

Tattoo artists, by default, come into contact with blood. You’ll need to take a bloodborne pathogens course before you get started to make sure that you know all of the best practices for keeping yourself and your clients safe. 

If you’re squeamish around blood (or worse, needles), then this might not be the career for you. 

You Understand the Downsides

Tattooing isn’t a glamourous career. There are plenty of benefits, like the ability to travel, the earning potential, the ability to meet new people, and more, but there are just as many downsides for people who aren’t prepared. 

First, it takes a lot of work to get to the point that you’re making a lot of money. While some artists are comfortable sticking with cheap tattoos forever, if you want to reach your full potential, you’re never going to stop learning. 

It also comes with a lot of client interactions. Many people think that leaving retail or hospitality jobs means that there will never be problematic customers. This isn’t true. One of the reasons that you have to be so personable is that you’ll have to convey things to clients gently.

For example, are you able to talk to your clients about tattoos that aren’t feasible? Are you able to communicate with a problematic client so you can make their perfect tattoo?

Tattooing is also hard on the body. If you’re just getting started, it’s a good idea to have a good baseline of physical fitness if you want to protect your back and wrists.

For someone who’s been dreaming of tattoos, these downsides are acceptable. If they turn you off from tattooing, though, this might not be for you. 

Is a Tattoo Artist Career In Your Future?

Tattooing gives you the space to be creative and interact with a cool industry. If you love body art and you want to spread your art to other people, you might be happy in a tattoo artist career.

If the downsides seem like small problems and you’re ready to put in the hard work that it takes to tattoo, it might be time to get started.

One way to start a career as a tattoo artist is by visiting a tattoo school. At Florida Tattoo Academy, we want to help aspiring artists start their new careers. Contact us for an information packet so you can make an informed decision about your future.