9 Top Tips for New Tattoo Artists

  • Written By Dan Hunter on February 09, 2022
    Last Updated: February 9, 2022

Tattoo artistry is a skill that takes years to get the hang of; it isn’t something that comes to you overnight.

So, where should you begin? Just because you’re excellent with a pencil doesn’t mean you’ll take naturally to the needle. But, having artistic talent is a great place to start. In this article, we discuss some of our most important tips for brand new tattoo artists.

Tips for New Tattoo Artists

From practicing your art skills to becoming an apprentice, there’s so much you can do to develop your career as a tattoo artist. So let’s mull over some top tips for new tattooists.

  • Practice Basic Skills
  • Practice on Fake Skin
  • Familiarize Yourself With Health and Safety Standards
  • Develop Your Artistic Flair
  • Build Your Portfolio
  • Become An Apprentice
  • Invest in Quality Equipment
  • Develop Good Communication Skills
  • Keep Your Concentration

Practice Basic Skills

Whether you want to perfect your shading or neaten up your linework, the more you practice, the more you’ll improve. Practice as much as you possibly can with the aim of getting slightly better each time you have a go at a certain type of tattoo or technique.

Don’t worry if you feel like you’re not improving or hit a plateau; everything will take time and tattooing can take decades to truly master. The old saying of “practice makes perfect” really does apply in this profession.

Practice on Fake Skin

Although drawing and painting on paper are transferable skills, there’s nothing quite like inking on skin. When you first begin tattooing, you probably won’t be inundated with volunteers offering their flesh. But, you can purchase fake skin sheets made from silicone or other synthetic materials.

Using fake skin helps you familiarize yourself with your tools, and it’s an excellent resource for learning to judge needle depth. It’s also flexible so you can wrap it around an arm, leg, or something to represent a limb for a realistic experience.

If you’re a bit short on cash but would still like to practice in the meantime, fruits with tough skin are a great alternative.

Familiarize Yourself With Health and Safety Standards

Familiarize yourself with health and safety standards and follow a strict routine. The safety of the client and yourself is crucial. Familiarize yourself with the health and safety standards required in the state you wish to practice.

It’s helpful to learn first aid and CPR so you can act quickly in an emergency. Some states require tattoo artists to know basic first aid, and they can’t practice without it. 

All states require tattoo artists to acquire the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Certification for body art professionals.

You must follow the safety standards established by the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA). This includes implementing infection control procedures, a bloodborne pathogen control plan, and other standard precautions.

If you’re employed, your employer will have set these procedures and precautions for you to follow. However, if you’re self-employed, you’ll have to take responsibility for creating your own safety plan by following and implementing OSHA’s standards

Develop Your Artistic Flair

Many tattoo artists dream of developing a style that’s instantly recognizable such as the artwork of Arlo DiCristina

Take time to find your original style, one that’ll give you an edge when applying for apprenticeships. Avoid copying other artists’ styles. Use the inspiration around you to develop unique sketches.

Build Your Portfolio

Create a portfolio to showcase your work. This may be a physical, digital, or online portfolio, and it can display your sketches, digital designs, and examples of your tattoo work. A portfolio helps your client get an idea of your style and can help them decide on their piece.

Social media is an excellent way to showcase your work as it has a massive audience. But, if you’re displaying work online, remember to include a watermark or signature to ensure it’s protected. 

Portfolios help to promote your skills, but what about promoting your personality? Remember to market yourself and your work because people like to buy from real people, and faceless companies aren’t welcoming. Inject your personality into your socials to make you feel more approachable to potential clients.

Become An Apprentice

Most states require prospective tattoo artists to train to obtain a tattoo license. 

Research tattoo parlors near you and check the artist’s reputation is good before asking if apprenticeships are available. With persistence, you’ll soon find someone willing to take you on.

An apprenticeship won’t be all about the art. You may get asked to clean the shop along with other tedious jobs. Ultimately think of this as an opportunity to learn new things and add to your growing portfolio. 

During your time as a trainee, they’ll be failures and lots of criticism. But, this is an avenue to improvement, and it’s well worth your time in the long run.

Invest in Quality Equipment

“A man is only as good as his tools,” or so the saying goes. Invest your cash in quality equipment. Cheap equipment can affect the end result. Be sure to do your research when looking for a tattoo machine and power supply.

Consider all the other essentials you need, including razors, stencils, pens, ink, vaseline, paper towels, etc.

Develop Good Communication Skills

Effective communication is key to giving your client the tattoo they want. Before the procedure, talk about what the client wants and gain clear instructions to make up your drawings. Some clients may need reassuring, be compassionate, and welcoming to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

As an artist, you must inform the client about the equipment you use. You must also discuss their medical history to determine whether or not it’s safe for them to proceed with the session. It’s also a good idea to warn them about potential reactions to inks and how they should deal with it if it happens.

After the procedure, you’ll have to talk through aftercare and provide care instructions in writing.

Keep Your Concentration

A tattooist’s work is pretty demanding when it comes to concentration. Full sleeves and other large tattoos can take hours to complete. You must maintain your concentration and prepare yourself to sit for long periods. Don’t hesitate to split a session into several.


Becoming a tattoo artist takes dedication, compassion, and skill. If you love tattooing, acquire the safety certifications you need, get yourself an apprenticeship, and build your portfolio. 

Be sure to find yourself a reputable tattoo artist willing to teach you, and drain them of every bit of knowledge they have. Remember, social media is your friend. Use socials to your advantage and gain a vast audience.

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