The tattooing industry is, now more than ever, a highly competitive establishment with scores of artists seeming to come out of the woodwork. Even in the smallest towns, odds are there is a tattoo parlor within a reasonable drive. So, one must wonder how can an individual with a real passion for tattooing get their hat in such a high-paced, competitive ring?

First and foremost, you need talent as an artist. If you can’t draw and color, then you will certainly not be a successful tattoo artist. It is strongly recommended that you become good on paper through art classes, books, and most of all practice, before you go anywhere near human skin as a canvas. Just knowing how to operate a tattoo machine is not enough. Without artistic skill, you cannot succeed as a tattoo artist.

Once you feel confident in your artistic abilities, put together a portfolio of your work to showcase your talents. Once you have your work together in an organized and flattering manner, you will need to approach an established artist for an apprenticeship.

Make sure that the master you choose is someone with real reputability and not just someone to make an extra buck on the side. Keep in mind that you will have to pay for your apprenticeship, so you’ll need a regular 9-5 while you work your way through the training process. The cost of an apprenticeship varies greatly from master artist to master artist, so be sure to shop around and find the best teacher for the best rates before jumping into an obligation which you may later regret.

Yoji Harada Tattoo Apprentice

(Tattoo Apprentice Yoji Harada from TV Series Miami Ink)

During your apprenticeship you will learn many essential skills, most of these related to the actual tattooing process, sanitation, safety, and application. During this training which will, undoubtedly, require several months, it is recommended that you continue developing your artistic talents on paper. It will only serve to improve your tattooing abilities as an artist when you finally go out on your own.

Rarely is there a time requirement placed on when an apprentice has officially completed their training. Occasionally there will be a contractual obligation (signed at the beginning of the apprenticeship) which requires that the trainee spend a certain period of time under their master’s tutelage, or an agreement which prevents the apprentice from moving on to work for a competitor. Barring these complications, however, the apprentice can generally move on whenever they feel comfortable in their ability to do so. It is strongly suggested that you think this through thoroughly and be one hundred percent sure that you’re ready before going out to become an official artist.

Remember, even though you have completed your training and have moved on to go out on your own, you can never know everything. Even as an artist, continue to practice and to broaden your horizons. Learn new techniques, develop the ones you know, and with a lot of hard work and dedication you can make it in the world of tattoo artistry.