Can't find the perfect font for your logo?
Get hundreds of logo designs in under 5 minutes by completing 5 easy steps
  • 1 Choose some designs that you like
  • 2 Choose your colors
  • 3 Add your company name
  • 4 Pick some icons
  • 5 Download your logo

Give it a try:

Career guide: What Does It Take To Be A Successful Tattoo Designer?

by Alice Jackson Tweet - in Artist

Tattoo Designer

Last updated on February 15th, 2023

It’s said that tattoos have a power and magic of their own that decorate the body and enhance the soul. And, the tattoo designer is the magic creator who helps you to enhance your vision. Today, tattoo designers are more in demand as an increasing number of people express themselves through this art than ever before. Still, to deal with the competition as the designer, you must learn the tricks of the trade. Make sure that you not only have the right skills as a tattoo artist but also know how to run your tattoo shop as a successful business. In this post, we have shared what it takes to be a successful tattoo designer / artist and make a name in the tattoo industry.

The popularity of tattoos is increasing with each passing day. People can be seen experimenting with tattoos in several ways. They ink various figures on different parts of bodies. Some people have covered their entire bodies with tattoos as if wearing some cloth.

Tattoo Design Mandala

A reason for such liking for tattoos is that it has been part of popular or pop culture. Modern people took this art perhaps from tribals and turned that into a way to express culture.

Today, most sportspeople and celebrities from different fields use tattoos to look unique and special. This has given rise to a tattoo industry and now it is being run professionally as a business.

Since a lot of professional tattoo artists have entered this field of art in a big way, it is now a competitive market for new artists. Therefore, as an artist, you should enter this field well prepared. Make it certain that you learn not just the skills as a tattoo designer, but also how to run it as a business successfully.

Wolf Tattoo

Here Are The Measures You Should Take To Become A Tattoo Designer

Tattoo design is a skill that you cannot accomplish in isolation. You have to combine your design skills with your social skills. This is because the tattoo is a social art that people use to express their culture. But, make sure that you have learned the basics of tattoo designing and practicing the art.

Here Are Some Key Tips

01. Have The Ability To Draw

Tattoos are all about the skills to draw. It is a kind of line art. You should be able to quickly but attentively draw something that looks nice and clean. Most tattoo designs have a lot of details. If you have practiced this art well, then you will not falter in incorporating those fine details.

To get those skills, think of attending an art school that helps budding artists to learn the basics and practice. You may not be learning skills especially to create tattoos but you will have the basics to draw. Or, you can plan to go to a school dedicated to creating tattoos.

02. Work as An Apprentice

Working as an apprentice, you will come across the practical part of the art. You will learn about a lot of different aspects of this art and business. Not just the drawing skills but you will also be familiar with a tattoo machine and sterilizing tattoo equipment.

Most importantly, as an apprentice, you will be learning about the business aspect of the art field. You will find out how to set up a tattoo studio and how much money you need to establish it. Learn also about scheduling and taxes, etc.

Make sure that you sign a contract for an apprenticeship with the tattoo shop. The contract will be the legal document that compels you and the shop owner to meet the expectations and legal obligations. Everything about your salary, daily work, and responsibilities, working hours, etc. should be mentioned in the contract.

03. Learn Graphic Design

Although the graphic design does not seem to be directly related to tattoo creation, still you need to learn it. Make sure that you have an elementary knowledge of graphic design and have a clear understanding of its basics. It means that you should learn theories of color, shape, texture, line, and other aspects such as the value of a design.

You should learn the principles of graphic design. Learn how to ensure a balance between the multiple design elements and how to create space and contrast. You will also know about the tricks to ensure alignment, repetition, and proximity.

As you gain mastery over them, you can then manipulate these principles to get your tattoos done in your unique way on human skin.

Also, learn how to practically apply those theories on paper. In this way, you can understand how an image gets created on paper. This helps to transform your tattoo ideas on human skin.

04. Practice The Art

Learning the basics is not enough for a sustainable career in doing tattoos. You need to consistently practice the art as much as you possibly can. Practice ear tattoos and hand tattoos — it’s a great way to master the art. Regular practice is a way of self-education and keeping in touch with emerging design trends.

To practice the art, you should grab any opportunity that allows you to do tattoos. Most importantly, make sure that you do the sketching part of it at home on paper. Make sketches of tattoos on paper and see how you can come up with unique ideas.

05. Create Your Professional Portfolio

One of the foremost requirements to become a successful tattoo designer is to have your portfolio. It will have all the information that a potential client needs to know about your career and skill sets. When you are at the initial stage of your career, the portfolio will help you get apprenticeships with experienced and renowned tattoo artists.

But, make sure that you display your best tattoo works in the portfolio. Put 25 to 100 well-created tattoo designs and drawings in the portfolio. These pieces of art should showcase your skills and versatility as an artist. At the same time, do not ignore diversity.

You should include different themes, culture, black and white, and colored tattoos you created. An intention here is to create the impression that you are capable of designing a wide range of tattoos.

However, add some basic features to the portfolio to make it engaging and client-friendly. Make sure that it has a cover letter with your resume, which has your career education and experience in the field.

06. Have A Business Card

Another step you should take is to have a nice business card. Tattoo shops are busy and buzzing with customers. Their owners may not have time to meet you immediately. So, the best you can do is to leave your business card at the shop for a later appointment.

The owner of the shop will take a look at the card and visit your credentials before setting a date to meet you.

But, make sure that your business card has a link to your online portfolio. Your potential clients or other people can visit the portfolio to have a look at your artwork and style.

07. Work For Free

At the starting point of your career as a freelance tattoo artist, you may find it harder to get new clients. This is because they already have access to experienced and skillful artists. They think that it is far better to pay the high fees of an experienced artist than to get it done by an inexperienced one.

To draw their attention, therefore, you should even offer your services even for free. If the clients are satisfied with your work, they will recommend you for sure to their peers. That is the way you build your network.

So, at this stage, do not worry about getting a high fee and how much a tattoo artist makes. Start with low fees and even offer your services for free.

08. Build A Network

Another important step to becoming a successful tattoo designer is to bring the right people into your network. You should start contacting your peers, fellow tattoo designers, and others.

Include them in your network of phone, emails, and other platforms to have a chat with them. You should be sending them any new development on your parts such as your new low fees and new work you did recently.

Use all the online and offline platforms to your access to connect with people. There are so many ways to steadily build the network that matters to advancing your career.

09. Get The License

If you wish to adopt your tattoo-creating career as a profession, then you need to have the license to pursue it in the US. Therefore, get the license so that you can do the job professionally without hindrances.

But most importantly, a license will indicate that you are a professional who follows the safety standards and does quality work. You should apply for the license sometimes after you have finished your training as a tattoo artist.

10. Equip Yourself With The Supplies

As a tattoo artist, you need to have some essential equipment to work with. You must have needles which you require to pierce the skin surface to create tattoos. Then, you need the tattoo ink, which comes in different colors as well.

Get also a tattoo machine to ensure that you get the job done smoothly. Besides, you also need bandages and tattoo lights. Have all such supplies in your studio.

Choose your style of tattoo guns that you like to use. You should also have equipment such as tubes, grips, sterile needles that you need to create lines and shading. Make sure also that you have spray bottles, gloves, green cleaning soap, small plastic cups for ink.

Note that during your apprenticeship, you must have some experience in handling the equipment. You should be able to handle how to operate a tattoo machine and work with ink.

11. Learn Hygienic Practices

Tattoo art is all about piercing human skin, which itself is a concern for hygienic practices. You have to not only put the needle on customers’ skin but also put various kinds of inks on it. This all raises hygienic issues.

Therefore, learn about all those practices that help you keep the high standards of keeping tattooing safe and secure for people of all ages.

Learn how to clean the tattoo machines, create a sterile work field, change gloves, and do all the essential things properly.

12. Know How To Sell Your Skills

Having a set of high skills is another thing while selling them to people is altogether a different thing. So, learn some business skills as well. This is an important step to take when you open your tattoo shop.

You should be able to process payments and balance a ledger. If you are not sure how to effectively handle your business, then hire someone to do the job professionally. That will pay you a rich dividend in the end.

So, these are the key things you must follow to build a fruitful career as a tattoo designer. But, have patience as you will get the desired results after many months. Do not forget that you will take time to establish your tattoo shop as a brand that can depend on for new tattoo ideas and safety.

After you know what you need to do to be a tattoo designer, it is time to start your business and earn money. For that one of the easiest tactics is to start your online shop at PrintShop by Designhill. At this platform, you have access to several beneficial features that help you earn well.

At this Print-On-Demand site, you can set your tattoo designs on t-shirts and other products. You will sell the designs at your prices to earn a profit. The site will also help you print, sell, and deliver your tattoos to customers.

Wrapping Up

Tattoos are popular art but you need to establish yourself as a credible tattoo designer to create a successful career out of it. You need to learn the fundamentals such as how to draw professionally and handle the tattoo equipment. Also, you should be an apprentice to learn different aspects of the trade like conducting the business and customer service.

Sell Your Art Online

Alice Jackson is a business consultant, blogger, social media enthusiast, online market analyst, amateur designer and an avid author at Designhill. She has written on several topics including social media marketing, SEO, content marketing, startup strategies and e-commerce. When she’s not writing, she loves spending her time reading romantic novels, Connect with her on Twitter: @jackson_alice1



Need a Logo?
A powerful logo can give a company easy recognition. Create your unique business logo using our AI powered logo maker tool. Or, hire a designer to get your logo.
Best for when you want a logo in minutes. Our Artificial Intelligence powered logo maker creates dozens of unique designs in minutes. You can also edit colors, texts, icons and elements.
  • Uses power of AI & Machine Learning
  • Uses library of more than 10,000 fonts and 1M+ icons
  • No design experience required
  • Pricing starts at $20 but you pay only when you find a design you love.
Best for when you want to crowdsource ideas. Multiple designers submit entries for you to rate and review before you award a winner.
  • Fixed price packages starting from $199
  • Hand crafted designs from World-class designers
  • Dozens of concepts to pick from
  • Get 50+ designs in 7 days
  • 100% money back guarantee
Best for when you want to work with a single designer only. Explore the range of creative services offered by our highly talented designers.
  • Work with a single designer
  • Hand crafted designs from World-class designers
  • Options within all price ranges
  • Flexible turnaround time
  • Multiple revisions