- Work closely with a variety of people
- Attention to detail is appreciated
- Artistic setting, surrounded by other artists
The job of a tattoo designer (also known as a tattoo artist) is to design and create a lifelike image to be permanently tattooed on a client's body.
Tattoo designers consult with the client about the designs they are interested in receiving. The process can take five minutes, or several hours over a number of days. They meet with their client to discuss the shape, design, colors and placement of the tattoo(s). Sometimes they will make several sketches of a custom-made design their client has dreamed up.
Creating a real-life image from the client's description and pictures can prove to be difficult. So it is important to listen to the client and ask questions to ensure the client receives the exact artwork they specified, and the highest quality tattoo possible.
The imagery of smoke-filled rooms and questionable cleanliness is now only present in old Hollywood movies. Hygiene is vital, as contaminated tattooing equipment can spread infection and disease. Both the premises and the tattoo designers must be registered by the local environmental health department. A tattoo designer is required to abide by a variety of state laws that include equipment being kept in a sterilized environment. Tattoo studios must follow a strict set of rules, policies and guidelines.
Because the vast majority of tattoo designers work for themselves as independent contractors, a tattoo designer must be able to deal with general business issues. This includes a good working business relationship with the studio owner, and working with clients who can be difficult. Just like any other business, a lot of new clients are created by word-of-mouth advertising. So a designer must have the ability to communicate with a variety of people.
Becoming a tattoo designer can be difficult. While there are thousands of studios available in the US, most studios are picky about whom they chose to offer an apprenticeship to. This is one point of interest that should be noted before deciding if being a tattoo designer is for you.
A tattoo studio owner must carefully consider every tattoo designer hopeful. The people who work with the studio (paid and apprenticeship) represent the studio. If a designer is rude or unethical, the studio automatically receives that reputation, therefore a tattoo studio owner must take on the leading role of an employer – for the good and the bad outcomes.
While one of the best ways to start an education as a tattoo designer is to approach a local registered tattoo studio, the studio will want to know why they should offer you an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship can last for two to three years. You may see a lot of tattoo designers trace a piece of art, but you will also need to be able to draw original, beautiful and unique designs. To be considered as a tattoo artist, a portfolio is needed. Your portfolio is your proof that you have the skills needed to succeed in the industry. For this reason, a lot of tattoo designers choose to obtain an art degree.
Tattoo designers vary by specialized styles, such as color and black-and-white designs, authentic tribal designs and designing tattoos in different languages. The design will dictate the shape, size and numbers of needles for each piece or section of the artwork. A tattoo is permanent because the ink is applied to the base layer of skin. If the ink is applied to the top layer of skin, the image will not last, because this layer is constantly renewing itself. The finishing responsibility of a tattoo designer is to tell the client how to properly care for the tattoo.
Becoming a tattoo designer is not something you wake up one morning and decide to do. It is also not a career for people who want to be lazy, or who believe looks and manners do not matter. The career of a tattoo designer is a business like any other. In some sense, this business is more difficult than others, due to the reputation some people still hold against professional designers and studio owners. You can succeed in the tattoo industry, but you will need to be talented, self-driven, and always dedicated.
- Salary varies with location and experience
It helps to have a degree in one of the following
- Art Degree
- Graphic Designs
- Artistic abilities
- Hand-to-eye co-ordination
- Safety practices