Tattoo artist working - person getting a tattoo

Tattoo Apprenticeships

So you want to become a tattoo artist? A tattoo apprenticeship is one of the first steps you can take towards your dream career. You’ll gain the skills, experience and knowledge needed to kick-start you into the tattoo industry. Tattoo apprenticeships are extremely valuable and sometimes hard to come by due to popularity. 

Apprenticeships are not an easy way to get into tattooing. No route is easy, but if you truly believe this is the route for you, you’ll put the work in. This article will discuss everything you need to know about getting a tattoo apprenticeship.

Do You Need an Apprenticeship?

You will not need a degree to become a Tattoo Artist, but you will need to complete an Apprenticeship or Tattoo Course.  To become a tattoo artist, an apprenticeship is a great route to take. Mainly because you gain an accredited qualification while learning practical skills on the job. 

Once you become a practising tattoo artist, you and the premises will need to be registered with your local council. This will need to be done in order to gain a tattoo, piercing and electrolysis licence. Doing an apprenticeship will definitely help you obtain a tattoo license, this will allow you to work in the industry full-time. You may also be required to be vaccinated against hepatitis B.

How to Become a Tattoo Artist

You can start as an assistant by finding a tattooist who is willing to take you on and train you. If you can’t land a tattoo assistant job straight away, it can be possible to work as a customer service assistant in a tattoo studio first. You may start by just answering enquiries and booking appointments, but from there you could work towards becoming a trainee when the opportunity presents itself.

To become a tattoo Artist you’ll need:

  • A keen interest in tattooing
  • Good artistic ability
  • A portfolio of your artwork and design ideas

Steps you’ll need to take:

  1. Be an artist: This is the first and most important step. You can’t become a tattoo artist without first being an artist.
  2. Build a portfolio: You’ll need a tattoo apprenticeship portfolio, not a tattoo artist’s portfolio. This just means that instead of showcasing your general ability to draw, show specific tattoo designs. 
  3. Find a certified tattoo artist-mentor who will take you on as an apprentice: This can often be the hardest part. But, if you keep your eye on job listings online, you’ll have a good shot at finding the right opportunity for you.
  4. Learn the trade: During your apprenticeship, you’ll do a lot of small tasks, but you’ll also learn professional business skills, best hygienic work practices, and tattoo design.
  5. Get certified: Once you pass your tattoo apprenticeship or tattoo course, you’ll have the qualification you need to find a full-time position. 
  6. Find a shop to work in: After your apprenticeship and certification, you’ll be ready to begin your job hunt. However, if you do an apprenticeship, the tattoo shop that employed you may offer you a job. If this isn’t the case, you’ll have to find a shop to work in. You can do this by looking for positions online and also by contacting tattoo shops directly to enquire. 

Become a Tattoo Artist

The first thing you need to do is practice your art and build a diverse portfolio. 

1: Be an Artist

You must have an artistic flare to pursue a career in the tattoo industry. Don’t forget that as a tattooist, you are a tattoo ‘artist’. There’s no denying that it’s a cool job, but you must have a natural artistic talent. Like any apprenticeship, you’ll need to practice, learn, and work your talent into something special. Competition in the tattoo industry is extremely competitive so you’ll need to stand out. 

Your portfolio should show them that you can draw and that you have the artistry needed for the role. 

2: Build a Portfolio

Your portfolio should showcase many different designs to show a wider range of skills. 

You may already have some designs but if you’re struggling with what to draw, think of different life experiences that people might want to get tattooed on them. You want to showcase designs that could be tattoos one day. so remember that when you’re drawing. Ask your friends or family what tattoos they would get if you need some inspiration. Most artists are particularly better at certain styles than others, this may work to your advantage so be open about what you like and are best at drawing. One artist may have strengths in cartoon style drawings and others may be better at typography. Ask friends and family for feedback, there may be something you can improve on before submitting. 

2: Find a Tattoo Artist who wants an Apprentice

Find a tattoo shop with a good reputation, maybe one you’ve seen or heard about and would like to work at. As we mentioned in the portfolio, your style and strengths are important. It’s likely that tattoo shop will take artists based on their personal style. If they don’t have an artist that specialises in typography, and you do, you may have a good shot at getting the position.Other shops may just be looking for an all rounder, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t yet have a speciality. 

Let’s not forget that the power is not all with the employer. You have the important decision of picking your tattoo mentor.

You’ll want to be taught by someone who is genuinely interested in your future. You may want to pick someone who has mentored before, or someone who has a good educational background. If you feel their experience would challenge you, they could be a great fit. You will want to get on with them personally too as you will be spending a lot of time with them. Learning will best flourish when you feel comfortable. You might want to pop in for a taster beforehand to see how working alongside the mentor would work for you. 

If you’re looking for opportunities within the tattoo industry, search our job listings!

Be the first to get notified about new jobs from 1000's of employers - register today!