Tattoo apprenticeships: ultimate guide

How to become a tattoo artist

Sometimes, drawing with a pen and paper isn’t enough – you may want to take it one step further and transform your art into tattoos.

A flair for art and design, attention to detail, great interpersonal skills and patience are the building blocks that you’ll need to succeed in this field. 

If this sounds like you, tattooing could be your perfect career. There’s not yet an official apprenticeship framework that can introduce you to tattooing, but don’t let that put you off. In this article, we’ll explore how you can get prepared to start inking, and how you can secure a job in this field. 

Your steps to success:

Build your portfolio

What if a simple folder could be your golden ticket? Well, maybe it can.

In art terms, a portfolio is a collection of your best work that showcases your particular style and how you’ve developed your art over time. Building a portfolio is crucial for a job in tattooing as it enables you to show your designs and abilities to potential employers – even if you’ve never picked up a needle and ink. 

Although portfolios are traditionally physical or printed works that are organised in a folder, digital portfolios are widely accepted too. A quick, stylish and accessible way to present your portfolio is to set up your own website. Take a look at free sites such as WordPress and Squarespace that give you the option to use a pre-designed template, which should make it even easier to set up your digital portfolio.

Get started with social media

Not interested in setting up a website? Don’t forget that you have the most powerful promotional tool at your fingertips – your social media pages could become your portfolio instead.

Keep it professional and network online with people who work in tattooing, which is a great way to get involved in the industry early on. If all goes well, you may even find yourself with a substantial social media following full of people who love your designs – and would be keen to visit you for a tattoo when you secure a job in the future. 

Find work experience

Despite the lack of nationally-recognised tattoo apprenticeships, you could still find and unofficial one.

Reach out to local studios near you and ask about apprenticeships or work experience. It’s unlikely that you’ll be dipping into the ink straight away (you’ll need training first), but the studio might ask you to work on the reception desk, clean up or make coffees, and you’ll still gain valuable first-hand experience of studio life. 

Consider creative apprenticeships

Tattooing is closely linked to art and design, so why not study a creative apprenticeship in one of these fields? You’ll be able to gain relevant skills and experience in a creative job, and easily transfer to a role in tattooing.

You could even meet people through your creative apprenticeship who can help you get to your end goal. Take a look at our recent article for some top creative apprenticeships and businesses to watch.

It’s your future – you’re in control

Many people who’ve been inked feel a deep connection to their body art, and it sometimes has a special meaning or memory behind it – so you could be changing people’s lives with your creations. Tattoo artists enjoy creative freedom, good pay and high demand for their services.

Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you – get started on your portfolio today! It’s your future, and you can make it happen.