As they say, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Yes that may be true, but you’ll be working around the clock not working. There are some general and somewhat obvious skills necessary for tattooing. Make sure you already have most of these, or can attain these skills before you quit the job job that pays your bills.
First and foremost, you have to be a talented artist. You can learn to become one, or already have skills from yesteryear. Either way, fundamental drawing skills are necessary, including basic concepts like shading/light and perspective.
The next stop is a little history that covers tattoo styles generally asked for by the public. There are infinite ways to divide the art of tattooing. We highly recommend you gather up some knowledge with regards to what has historically been popular tattoo styles and of course what is being tattooed in your region nowadays. Trends come and go but basic categories such as American Traditional or Polynesian encompass everything.
Now are you ready to tattoo, right? You can draw, you know what’s going on in the world of tattooing. Let’s go! Cool story bro. Buy a gun and start practicing. But who will let you take a permanent ink tattoo gun to their skin for the first time? The world of fruit is who. Try a banana, grapefruit or a melon. When your local grocer 86’s you out of the store for becoming creepy, move on to pig skin or whatever you can convince a butcher to give you. When that gets weird, invest in products sold by professional tattoo suppliers. They sell all body parts so you can get a feel of human curvature.
So now you’ve tattooed fruit. Time to hit the streets and get yourself a… a… an internship? That’s right. It’s starting to look like that bangin’ payday is getting further and further off. You are not wrong. This is where it all happens. Plenty of shops are looking for interns and there is always a need for more artists. Artists would disagree but market need says otherwise. The internship phase isn’t easy but if you’re any good, you may have a future.
At this point you are working in a shop, but there’s something everyone forgot to mention to you before you began your long journey of not working. Client relationships. Sure, you have the right to refuse service to anyone, there’s a sign on the wall that says so! But why would you want to? You want their money, after all. Making your client happy is the work that can be hard to do. Loads of people are chill, but a surprising amount of people are ___holes. Issues from scheduling to revisions of tattoos to indecisiveness can alter your client relations or even burn bridges. Make sure you have the temperament to deal directly with clients. You may want to read a book about it and resolve to have your last tantrum yesterday.
Saving the most important part for last: We have discussed this in earlier blog posts and are going over it again here because the crux of any business is marketing. Whatever you call it, you have got to find a way to get the word out that you are finally tattooing. Even after you get some success, it’s not like you’re selling food that people need every day. You have to find a way to get not only new customers, but repeat customers—regularly. This part can truly seem like work unless your old day job was literally marketing. Either way, there are so many books, blogs, lectures, advice podcasts, you name it, around marketing yourself. These days, there are a lot more people living in cities and tattoos are more popular than ever. There’s no reason you can’t find clients. It may not be fun, but sitting idly by waiting for the phone to ring or buzz or ping will put you on the path to failure. If you build it, they likely won’t even know. Promote thyself is the mantra.
Take time to understand the business before you think about quitting your job, and be prepared for a long road to financial stability. If you can stomach all of the above, you too can be one of the privileged who have found a job that you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
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