How to become a tattoo artist

If you've got creative flair and a strong stomach, becoming a tattoo artist could be the business opportunity for you. Read our start-up guide to learn more

1. Create a business plan to become a tattoo artist
2. Understand the rules and regulations to become a tattoo artist
3. Read up on how much it costs to become a tattoo artist and how much you can earn

Tattoo art is nothing new; tattooists have been inking their clients’ bodies with beautiful and intriguing designs for thousands of years.

However, as tattoos have become more popular and mainstream – thanks to changing attitudes, awareness through popular shows like Tattoo Fixers, and tatoo expos popping up across the UK – the level of interest in a career as a tattoo artist is increasing significantly.

Here’s our guide to becoming a tattoo artist…

How to become a tattoo artist: What is it and who is it suited to?

Tattooists are professional artists who design tattoos and apply them to bodies using specialist ink and needles.

Tattooing is a skilled job that requires proper training. Duties of a tattoo artist usually include:

  • Ensuring that clients have the necessary ID and making sure they have no allergies or medical issues
  • Consulting with clients to identify what type of design they want
  • Creating artwork based on the client’s requirements and wishes
  • Tracing the finalised design onto the client’s skin (this can be done freehand or by using a transfer)
  • Applying the tattoo
  • Providing detailed aftercare instructions
  • Sterilising all equipment and maintaining a clean environment
  • Ordering new inks, machine heads, needles, and golves

Given the nature of the role, artistic talent and creativity are essential to become a tattoo artist. After all, tattooing is an art form.

Other key skills and qualities required to become a tattoo artist include:

  • Excellent attention to detail
  • The patience and concentration to deal with long tattoo sessions
  • Good hand-eye coordination and a steady hand
  • High standards of cleanliness and an awareness of hygiene practices
  • Good communications and customer service skills
  • Good networking skills
  • A strong stomach!

Our tattoo artist insider says: “I studied art at school but had never really considered tattooing as a career – it just wasn’t an option that I knew was available to me. When I was 19, I got my first tattoo and that’s when I developed a keen interest in becoming a tattoo artist. I started designing tattoos for myself and my friends and managed to build up a decent portfolio.

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“I got to know my tattooist and was lucky enough to secure an apprentiship working alongside him – I’ve never looked back! I love being able to be creative every day and see my art brought to life on my clients’ bodies.”

Creating a business plan to become a tattoo artist

Becoming a tattoo artist can be a great home-based business, if you have the right equipment and facilities you can get customers to visit you. Running your tattoo business from home will also significantly reduce the costs of getting started.

However, to attract more customers and gain more exposure, many experienced tattoo artists decide to take the next step and open a tattoo studio.

If you’re considering opening your own tattoo studio, you’ll need a comprehensive business plan. This is an essential tool that will outline exactly how much financial capital is needed to open your studio, as well as forecasting future projections and profit.

Creating a business plan can be something of a daunting prospect, particularly if you’ve never done it before, but there’s plenty of help out there and you can download your free business plan template here.

Generally speaking, your business plan for becoming a tattoo artist will need to cover the following:

  • Type of tattoo business

    • Who will your customers be?
    • Where will your premises be?
    • Will you have more than one outlet?
    • What will your opening hours be?
    • Will you work by appointment only?
  • Your services
    • Will you offer any additional services such as design, re-colouring old tattoos, cover-ups, cosmetic tattooing, semi-permanent tattoos, or piercing?
  • Pricing
    • What will your pricing policy be?
    • How often will you review your prices?
    • Will you offer discounts, special offers, etc?
  • Market summary
    • What does the tattoo market look like at the moment?
    • How will you fit into this market?
    • Market segmentation
    • Competition
  • Marketing strategy
    • Who are your potential customers?
    • How will you reach them?
  • Sales strategy
    • How will you sell your services?
    • Sales forecast
    • Milestones
  • Management summary

    • Who will be running the studio?
    • What are their skills and experience?
    • Will you be employing any other members of staff?
  • Financial plan

    • Are you going to need start-up funding? [See if you can get a Start Up Loan here]
    • Break even analysis
    • Projected profit and loss
    • Projected cash flow
    • Projected balance sheet

On creating a business plan, our tattoo artist insider comments: “I’d been thinking about starting my own tattoo studio for a number of years, but I’d never really been brave enough to go for it. The business plan was one of the things that was putting me off becoming a tattoo artist – I knew I’d need one but I didn’t even know where to start.

“I read lots of advice and guidance and, when I eventually put pen to paper, it was a lot easier than I’d imagined! It’s just about thinking about the business you want to start, how it’s going to work, and how it’s going to make money. The hardest bit is taking the first step and making a start on your plan!”