Can I Teach Myself to Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on October 1, 2021
    Last Updated: February 9, 2022

You’ve decided that you want to become a tattoo artist. However, you don’t have the money to go to tattoo school and there are no apprenticeships available where you live. Just how will you achieve your dream career?

The question many people ask in this situation is can I teach myself to tattoo? The answer to this is not as simple as yes, or no, as it takes lots of practice and skill to become a tattoo artist and not everyone has the ability or drive to do this. 

The key to all good tattoo artists is practice and study. This is even more important if you’re going to be teaching yourself as many people just don’t have the commitment needed to do this by themselves.

We’ll let you know if you can teach yourself how to tattoo, and if so, just how you would do this.

How Do You Become a Tattoo Artist?

It can take years of practice and studying to become a tattoo artist, and the best way to do this is to learn from a reputable tattoo artist who’s been doing it for years.

An apprenticeship would be the ideal way to learn to become a tattoo artist. With this, you’ll be shadowing reputable tattoo artists during their daily routine, and they will teach you everything that they know. This requires lots of commitment, and many hours of work and practice for very little, if any money. 

There are tattoo schools available, where you can learn how to tattoo. However, these are normally only short courses that teach you the basics. They also cost a lot of money to enroll in the course. Many tattoo artists see tattoo courses as a shortcut and they are negatively thought of by many tattoo studios. 

Can I Teach Myself to Tattoo?

It is possible to teach yourself to tattoo but this could take years of practicing and learning about the art. The first thing that you should do if you want to become a tattoo artist is to learn to draw. You don’t need to be the best at drawing but you do need to improve this to become a good tattoo artist. Every spare minute should be spent drawing and growing your portfolio.

You also need to learn all about hygiene and sanitation and should complete a blood-borne pathogens course. These can be taken online and you will learn all about cross-contamination and how to avoid infections.

If you’re not able to get an apprenticeship, speak to reputable tattoo artists and see if they will mentor you. This will help to talk things through with them and ask for their advice. They may not be willing to offer you an apprenticeship but being your mentor is the next best thing.

Learn To Draw

Drawing is key to becoming a tattoo artist. You don’t need to be great at drawing to begin with, but you need to practice to be able to improve. Enroll in an art class if there are any available as this will help you learn about the different art styles. Get a sketchpad and take this with you always, to draw as often as you can.

Learning the different styles, cultures, and traditions will help you to understand how art is used. This will also help with your tattoo designs. You may find that there’s a particular style that interests you more than others and you can base your portfolio and tattooing style around this.

Take It Slowly

You shouldn’t rush it, you need to take it slowly and learn every aspect of tattooing before you rush out and start tattooing real people. You need to learn the health and safety aspects along with learning about the equipment that you’ll be using before even thinking about doing actual tattoos. 

You also need to practice the tattoo process once you’ve improved your drawing skills. This can be done on fruit, synthetic skins, or even on pig skin to learn how to draw on different surfaces and textures, with curves and contours in the shape.

Get the Best Equipment

If you’re teaching yourself how to tattoo you’ll need your own equipment. This can be very expensive but you get what you pay for so don’t rush out and buy the cheapest equipment you can find. 

Speak to tattoo artists to understand what kinds of equipment you’ll need and which they would recommend. This may mean that you need to save up some money to be able to afford the equipment that you want, but it will be worth it when you’re tattooing for real.


It is possible to teach yourself how to tattoo but you need to put the hours in and practice as much as possible.

Speak to reputable tattoo artists for their advice and understand exactly what is required to become successful. If you’re committed and passionate about this career path, you will succeed.

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