So, you're passionate about tattooing and eager to embark on a fulfilling career as a tattoo artist.
But where should you start?
Should you pursue a college education, seek an apprenticeship, or consider the option of teaching yourself?
These are common questions that aspiring tattoo artists grapple with, and finding reliable answers can be a challenge.
In today's digital age, a plethora of tattoo courses, both online and in physical tattoo schools, are readily available. However, it's worth noting that the subject of tattoo courses can be quite controversial among established tattoo artists. Many professionals argue that these courses can potentially undermine the reputation of the industry, as they may be perceived as shortcuts to obtaining qualifications, rather than investing the necessary time and dedication as an apprentice.
If you're leaning towards pursuing a tattoo course, it's advisable to seek the opinions of reputable tattoo artists beforehand. Engaging in conversations with experienced artists can provide valuable insights and help you gauge their perspectives on the matter. Additionally, you may explore the possibility of securing an apprenticeship, as learning from seasoned tattoo artists while on the job can be a transformative experience.
Learning the Art of Tattooing
Tattooing is a complex craft that requires a blend of artistic talent, design skills, and meticulous attention to detail. While some individuals may assume that becoming a tattoo artist is an easy feat, the reality is quite different. It demands countless hours of practice, hard work, and unwavering commitment to master the craft and become a skilled tattoo artist.
Although there are numerous tattoo courses available, it's crucial to recognize that many respected tattoo artists advocate for apprenticeships as the preferred method of learning. Apprenticeships allow aspiring artists to shadow experienced tattooists in a real-life working environment, providing invaluable hands-on training and guidance.
Practicing Your Craft
Regardless of the learning path you choose, one fundamental aspect of becoming a tattoo artist is consistent practice. This involves honing your drawing skills and practicing tattooing on various surfaces. By dedicating time to refine your techniques, you can cultivate your artistic abilities and develop your unique style as a tattoo artist.
The Value of Tattooing Courses
While tattoo courses can be a viable option for some individuals, it's essential to consider the potential drawbacks. These courses often come with a hefty price tag, costing thousands of dollars, and their duration is typically limited. Consequently, they may not cover all aspects of tattooing comprehensively, leading some to view them as a shortcut to enter the industry.
However, it's worth noting that tattoo courses can offer certain advantages. They often provide specialized instruction on the health aspects of tattooing, including topics like blood-borne pathogens, cross-contamination prevention, and infection control. Moreover, participating in a tattoo course allows you to engage with fellow students and receive support from instructors, fostering a sense of camaraderie and motivation as you embark on your journey to become a tattoo artist.
Course Content and Structure
If you opt for a tattoo course, you can expect a curriculum that encompasses various elements crucial to the art of tattooing. This typically includes learning about the history and traditions of tattooing, gaining insights into different tattooing techniques, and understanding the equipment used in the process. A significant portion of the course should focus on safety precautions, such as proper sterilization techniques, to ensure a hygienic and safe tattooing environment that minimizes the risk of infections and cross-contamination.
Additionally, you'll delve into the fundamentals of tattooing, such as linework, shading, and blending. Practical training may involve practicing on artificial surfaces, as well as supervised tattooing sessions on real clients. These experiences contribute to building your portfolio, which serves as a testament to your skills and creativity when seeking employment or an apprenticeship at established tattoo studios.
The Value of Tattoo Apprenticeships
Many seasoned tattoo artists argue that apprenticeships offer a more comprehensive and immersive learning experience compared to standalone tattoo courses. By working closely with experienced artists, apprentices gain firsthand knowledge of the profession's nuances, intricacies, and best practices. Apprenticeships provide an opportunity to absorb invaluable insights, develop a strong foundation, and refine artistic skills under the guidance of a mentor.
If feasible, a combination of completing a tattoo course followed by an apprenticeship can provide the best of both worlds. This dual approach allows you to gain essential theoretical knowledge through the course and then supplement it with practical, hands-on training during the apprenticeship.
Embarking on an apprenticeship requires careful consideration. It's crucial to seek out reputable tattoo studios and artists who are willing to invest their time and expertise in your development. Before committing to an apprenticeship, ensure that the terms and responsibilities are clearly defined in a contract, covering aspects such as training duration, tasks, and potential licensing and certification requirements.
Tattoo courses can serve as an initial stepping stone for aspiring tattoo artists, offering an introduction to the field. However, it's vital to approach these courses with the understanding that they should not replace the hard work, dedication, and long hours required to complete a comprehensive apprenticeship.
Remember, the key to a successful career as a tattoo artist lies in gaining experience and mentorship from seasoned professionals. Strive to continually refine your skills, seek guidance from established tattoo artists, and embrace every opportunity for growth along your artistic journey.
For more information on our TATTOO INK sets, please take a look at our piece on Xtreme Inks: Artist Collections.