Career Corner Life as a... Tattoo Artist

If you have artistic flair, adore encountering unique people from all walks of life, and love the idea of creating a (literal) lasting impression, then you might like to develop a career in tattoo artistry. Being a tattoo artist may seem like a dream job - after all, you do get to draw incredible designs all day long that will be on display for years to come - but there's much more to this job than you might think; the hours can be long and the money isn't always amazing, BUT it can be satisfying and rewarding, and you can even sometimes change lives...

In the video above, Alice Perrin from Tattoo Fixers meets Kayleigh - a woman who has suffered from a hair-loss condition known as Alopecia, since a young age. Here, she is given a beautiful tattoo to commemorate her struggle and strength, and she can barely hold back the tears as she is overwhelmed by her new, stunning design. For more personal stories behind people's reasons for getting a tattoo, check out Tattoo Twists on All 4.

If you'd like to know more about what it means to work as a tattooist, then you've come to the right place. Below, Am I Normal takes a look at everything involved in becoming a master of the permanent pen.

Yes, we have all you NEEDLE to know. Sorry.


Would you consider a career as a tattoo artist?


Working your way in

So, what entry requirements do you need? Well, according to the official National Careers Service website, there is no set path into tattooing, but a good place to start is to make a portfolio that shows off your artistic ability. Once you have this, you could apply for an apprenticeship - simply approach your local tattooist and ask if they'll be willing to take you on as a trainee. Once you start working, it's important to then apply for a tattoo, piercing and electrolysis licence, as it's illegal to work without one! You can do this through your local council.



We might be stating the obvious here, but to become a tattooist you should already have a talent for drawing. Yeah, you knew that. As well as that, a flair for art, patience, attention to detail, a steady hand, good hygiene, and the gift of the gab are all abilities that'll put you ahead of the competition.



An average day as a tattooist will involve advising clients on designs, confirming that they are happy with what they have chosen, and making sure they know that the tattoo is permanent! As well as designs that clients have chosen, you will get to draw up your own creations - either by hand, or with a number of computer packages. You'll also need to follow all hygiene procedures, and make sure that any equipment used is fully sterilised.



Your salary will depend on a number of factors including your talent, reputation, and the reputation of the studio that you work at. Also, rather than paying a consistent wage, some tattoo parlours pay commission on how many tattoos you produce.


Time invested

Weeks can be long, with tattoo artists often having to work weekends. Hours are pretty standard - usually 9-5, but sessions with clients will vary. Some tattoos may take just twenty minutes to complete, whilst others could fill up your entire day!


Whatever next?

As you develop your career as a tattoo artist, you could eventually open your own tattoo studio where you will hire staff and decide on your own hours. Getting to this point takes time and effort and will certainly not happen overnight, but if you have the talent and work hard at this career, then there's every chance you'll get there.

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