Learn How to Tattoo Like a Pro – 5 Key Steps to Tattooing Success
Those who want to learn how to tattoo the right way know that being a pro is about more than knowing the difference between a liner and a shader or how to mix your inks to get the perfect color.
After all, “pro” is short for “professional,” and there’s a lot that goes into being a true professional in the tattoo industry.
You may have decided you want to learn how to tattoo because you think the work looks interesting and because you like the atmosphere in the tattoo shop. There is definitely a whole culture, or subculture, when it comes to tattooing. Much of this comes from the fact that tattooing used to be considered very subversive. Only the “bad boys” and “bad girls” got tattoos. Getting inked was a sign of rebellion, of not conforming to society’s rules.
Many of the people who choose to learn how to tattoo feel like they fit in well within this culture. To be sure, that culture has been changing over the last decade or two. While many people are still not fans of tattoos, they have definitely become much more mainstream. That said, a lot of tattoo artists are still throwbacks to this earlier ideal. You will find that most of them have lots of tattoos themselves. Many have piercings, and there is definitely a bit of a “tough guy” or “tough girl” image that these folks live up to.
There Are Different Kinds of “Professional”
When you think of the word “professional,” you probably don’t immediately picture the tattoo artist. Instead, you may conjure images of Wall Street types in suits and ties or men and women in various uniforms. Even among those jobs considered to be “professional,” you will find differences in expectations. Nurses, for example, generally wear scrubs, while police officers wear the uniform of their department.
Oftentimes, the people who choose to learn how to tattoo as a profession are the very same people who would be least likely to wear a suit or be happy in the same uniform day after day. That doesn’t mean, however, that they are not “professional.”
In order to learn how to tattoo like a professional, you need to consider both your tattooing skills and your appearance and demeanor.
Five Keys to Tattooing Success
- Do the highest-quality work. Probably the most important factor that determines your success is your actual ability. That’s not to say that it’s the only factor, but if you don’t learn how to tattoo well, then your chances of becoming a pro are slim to none. You need to know how your equipment works, as well as how to perform any number of specialized techniques. To get the most out of your tattooing career, you have to really put yourself into it heart and soul. Study, learn, practice, and work hard.
- Protect your reputation. Of course, doing high-quality work is going to do a lot to bolster your reputation. When your clients show off their art, you want their friends and families to say, “Wow! I want that artist to do my next tattoo!” In addition to being good at giving tattoos, you also need to make sure that you teach clients how to take care of their ink. The better they care for their tattoos, the better those tattoos will look.
- Conduct yourself professionally. Yes, tattoo artists are sometimes a little “rough” around the edges. They may get away with using a bit of off-color language and engaging in some behaviors that we might not appreciate in our physician, for example. Still, a tattoo professional needs to be just that…a professional. This means you need to take care of your appearance, keep your workspace in order, and make clients feel secure and comfortable with you.
- Follow all safety procedures. Really, this topic encompasses all the things we’ve already discussed. By keeping your equipment clean and sanitary, you are safeguarding the quality of your work, protecting your reputation, and conducting yourself professionally. Safety procedures go beyond using the autoclave to sterilize needles, and also include things like thoroughly washing, using gloves, and even wearing clean clothes to work every day.
- Be a good business person. When someone learns how to tattoo, they usually do it because they love art, they love culture, and they love working with other people. They very rarely do it because they love all of the nitpicky details that come along with running a business. Even if you work in someone else’s shop, there will be business angles to consider, from pricing and commissions to rent, etc. Keeping up with bills, paperwork, certifications, and all of the other aspects of being in business can be difficult and time consuming, and it’s most definitely not the most enjoyable aspect of being a tattoo artist. It is, however, extremely important if you want to be a successful professional.
You will find tons of tattoo articles, tattoo books, and tattoo videos that teach you the fundamentals of the art of tattooing. They will teach you how to break down and set up the tattoo machine or the difference between an ultrasonic cleaner and an autoclave.
These are all really important things to study when you learn how to tattoo. BUT, they are not the only requirements when it comes to being successful.
Being a truly successful tattoo artist requires you to conduct yourself as a professional.
Being a professional in the tattoo world is a little different than it is in other fields, but there are still important guidelines and expectations. If you do not go to the effort to learn and meet these expectations, then you’re just not going to fit in. You will likely have a hard time finding other professionals who want to work with you, and even if you start your own shop, you will find that just because you learn how to tattoo doesn’t mean that you can attract and keep customers.
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