Tattoos have undoubtedly grown in popularity over the last couple of decades, and if you’re looking to get into the industry, you’re not alone. There are over 7,340 tattoo artists across the 50 states, and you could be the next one in business!
However, some traits set artists apart from one another, and some that make for the best artists in the world. Let’s talk about some of the common traits of the best tattoo artists in the world!
1. The Best Tattoo Artists Are Organized
Artists in general have a reputation for being on the disorganized side of things. However, tattoo artists have to be anything but disorganized. Not only are they creating permanent art that someone will carry on their skin for the rest of their lives, but they’re also dealing with needles, strangers, and their blood.
Tattoo artists need to carry around a lot of equipment if they’re going to be tattooing at a convention or somewhere outside their studio. Most artists will carry 8 or more machines at a time, wipes, sanitation liquid, a lot of ink, wrapping, PPE, needles, ink caps, and their portfolios at the very minimum. There’s still a lot more equipment they may need to carry around.
Because of this, learning to be is key. If you walked into a tattoo shop and saw a disorganized mess of all of those materials everywhere, and the place wasn’t sparkling clean and sanitary, would you feel comfortable having them open up your skin for an hour or two (or six)?
Not everybody is naturally organized, and that’s okay. If you’re looking to become a tattoo artist but feel your organization could use some work, you must take the time to work on that now. It will save you in the future and make your clients feel at ease.
2. They’re Flexible
The best tattoo artists know how to work with any client. Like with any profession, tattoo artist personalities will vary widely between each individual, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
However, each of them must learn to adapt to all the varying personalities they encounter in their clients. It can be a challenge at certain times, but if you want to know how to be a great tattoo artist, it starts with never turning away clients.
More and more young people are getting tattoos, with 36% of people aged 18-29 having at least one, and they are finding styles from all over the world on the internet, so working with them is important for business.
You could be asked to tattoo a portrait of a famous baseball player in the morning and a crazy cartoon sea monster in the afternoon. It’s perfectly acceptable to develop a niche, and we’re not advocating for anything else, but the only way to grow into a well-rounded artist, get the most business, and be as successful as possible in the industry, is to learn all the skills.
You’d also be surprised how translatable some of the skills are between styles of tattooing. If you develop solid linework by working on your American Traditional, even if it isn’t your thing, that will help you across nearly every other style.
Flexibility will help you get more business in other ways. You may have to adjust your normal schedule to finish a client’s tattoo on Monday, then touch up some work you did a year ago the next. Flexibility is simply an important trait all around in the industry.
3. They Are Detail-Oriented
Every artist should have an eye for detail. If you want to create a true work of art on somebody’s skin that they’ll be happy with forever, then you need to pay close attention to the details.
No matter how good of an eye you have as an artist, you need to develop it more before you start tattooing people. Tattooing is not drawing in a sketchbook where you can just throw the page away when you make a mistake. Close attention to detail and the ability to think ahead is critical in the industry.
4. They Are Artistic
This sounds like it should go without saying, but artistic ability really is critical in tattooing. That ink is permanent and will be on somebody’s skin for the rest of their lives. A bad haircut can be changed a lot easier than a bad tattoo. While nobody picks up a tattoo machine and wins any national competition on their first try using one, artistic ability really is the seed that you need to blossom into a flower.
If you’ve watched the show “Ink Master”, you may remember how big of a deal drawing was made out to be. Well, when they talk about drawing, they really mean artistic and creative abilities.
There are plenty of tattoo artists who can trace a stencil but the best ones will be able to create something from their minds and put it onto somebody’s skin. Of course, this takes years of mastering the craft to accomplish but it’s something every artist should be striving to do.
5. They Have A Solid Work Ethic
Tattoo artists have a more difficult career than people realize. Not only is tattooing permanent ink on somebody stressful enough, but you also have to handle a lot of paperwork, communicate with a lot of people in a timely manner, and more.
In order to be successful in the business, especially if you’d like to own your own shop, you need to have a good work ethic. This means saving up money for a shop, responding to clients (or prospective clients), organizing your paperwork, practicing your skills on your own time, studying up on weaknesses, and more.
All of that falls directly on the artist and nobody else can do it for them. Successful tattoo artists have to be self-motivated, on top of their game, and ready for challenges that come their way.
6. They Adapt To New Trends
We mentioned flexibility, which is a little different. Adaptability is important because the industry changes so frequently. Look at tattoos from the ’90s. Okay, now look at the popular ones in the 2000s, then the ’70s. You’ll see very different trends.
The new school style is hated by some of the older tattoo artists who have been in the game for so long because they didn’t want to adapt to the new trends. Trash polka tattoos are despised by a wide range of artists. However, there are still plenty of people who love these styles and want them on their bodies.
Not only that but there will be more tattoo styles that pop up in your life that you simply don’t like or would never want to wear on your own skin. That is perfectly fine. However, if you refuse to adapt to these new trends, you’re only hurting yourself and your business.
It isn’t just trends. Tattoo technology might change even quicker, so overall adaptability is important.
7. They Love Tattoos
Do you think that Babe Ruth, Meryl Streep, Gordon Ramsey, or Michael Jordan got to be some of the best and most admired in their crafts if they didn’t love what they did? A passion for tattoos is necessary for the industry.
If you love scrolling through Instagram and seeing all of your favorite tattoo artists’ work, you love going to conventions, and you love seeing how the sausage is made, then you are the right fit for the industry, especially if you have a few other traits on this list.
As we said, self-motivation is the key to success in this industry, and it’s really hard to motivate yourself consistently to do something you don’t love. If you really love tattoos, then this next trait shouldn’t be a problem.
8. They’re Hungry For More
The most successful tattoo artists will never be satisfied. They could create world record tattoos and invent a new style themselves and still want more. They will carry that attitude through tattoo school and through their entire career.
Like with any craft, the best of the best will always be hungry for more knowledge, they will understand their weaknesses, and not be able to rest until they feel they’ve accomplished something.
This attitude is especially important in an ever-changing field. There’s always something to study, there will always be new trends, and there will always be personal weaknesses to improve on. If that scares you, then this may not be the industry for you. If that excites you, then you have a bright future ahead of you!
Put It In Ink!
If you want to see yourself as one of the best tattoo artists in the world, then why wait? Start your journey today and become a tattoo artist! Keep up with your passion, follow us for updates, and reach out to start your career today!