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Tattoo Designer

Career Highlights

  • Work closely with a variety of people
  • Attention to detail is appreciated
  • Artistic setting, surrounded by other artists

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Career Summary

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

$30,000*

  • Salary varies with location and experience

Education

It helps to have a degree in one of the following

  • Art Degree
  • Graphic Designs

Career Skills

  • Artistic abilities
  • Communications
  • Hand-to-eye co-ordination
  • Safety practices

Additional Information

References

Comments

  1. I Need to start out somewhere

    I've been drawing sense I could crawl. I can achieve several different art styles including my own. I have designed tattoos, painted cars, designed shirts, web graphics, logo graphics, and etc. I am 21 and have not yet attained a liscence for any of the obove but have done it successfully if anything need be done in the "Art" catigory I do custom just about anything hit me up I do tribal, christian, Morbin, symbolic...you name it There is room for improvement, but I have years ahead of me

    also if any working tattoo artist would need an apprentice I am also looking for that

    www.jegej17.deviantart.com

    www.myspace.com/arttweaker

  2. from the comments I have read from each of these people, I believe that I would'nt get a tattoo from any of them except for possibly jordan garrett. Although it is cool to be a tattoo artist, they will not hire an idiot. (ehem... Robert Frutis) be professional, be smart, if you have any skill, i'm waiting to see it

  3. IAM FROM BELL CA LOOKING TO BECOME A TATTOO ARTIS AS A CARRIER.IAM PERSONALY TATTOO'NG FRIENDS LITTLE BY LITTL BUT WANT MORE THAN THAT. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TOLD H0W COME YOU DONT BECOME A TATTOO ARTIS?PEOPLE LIKE THE WAY I DRAW AND MY IMAGINATION FITS THERE STILE. I HAD IT ON ME ALL THE TIME BUT DIDNT REALIZE WHAT I COULD USE IT FOR. NOW I KNOW....

  4. Oh my fucking god! this job is daaa SHIITTTTZ:p if i wasn't gonna be a police officer i'd be a tatoo artist furrrr surrreeeee:P im not kidding you!!!! i luv thiss job! :)))))) SeX for life!!!! hella yeauh:)

  5. Apprenticeship

    I rap but besides that my passion is designing tattoos for my friens but i never got the real details on what it takes to be a good tattoo artist.so im looking for a apprenticeship in North Carolina

  6. edvice

    hi my name is mario vieira and although i am still a student im thinking of setting myself with the future of getting a job with tattoing what edivce do you have for me

  7. el chamaco

    im a starting tattoo artist im looking for a job were can improve my tattoo drawing skills as an aprentist or a tattoo artist based on the simple designs until i improve.

  8. i am searching for a job as an tatto artist

    i would like to become an apprentist for a tatto artist , so that i can become one myself. It is something that i enjoy doing. I am searching for a job in Alabama.

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*Salary ranges based on location, experience, and demand. This number represents a rough nation-wide average.