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15 Top Tattooing Tips For Beginners: Expert Advice

15 Top Tattooing Tips For Beginners: Expert Advice

There is a lot you will need to learn as a beginner in the tattoo industry. Some of these things are learned during training and other things will be learned as you start doing the real thing.

A good tattoo artist will always seek some kind of guidance before investing time and money in this field. A good artist will also research what it takes to become a tattoo artist online before committing to the long process.

This list of tattooing tips for beginners sums up what you should know beforehand and what you may encounter during your career.

1. Don’t rush into it

You can’t become a tattoo artist overnight, and you surely won’t master it after taking one or two tattooing courses. Every experienced tattoo artist will tell you that it takes dedication and time. There are lots of things to learn, from the customer service aspect to hygiene, and to actual tattooing. 

It may be a bit daunting in the beginning, practicing on paper every day, or simply observing, but it’s worth it in the end. All these steps will bring you closer to becoming a skilled tattoo artist. There’s no need to rush into it and the longer you focus on the basics, the better you will be in the long run. 

In time, you will discover how useful pacing yourself is in this industry. This is one of the most important tattooing tips for beginners. You will slowly develop your own style, gain a reputation, and find a client base. In the meantime, you can work on your skills to help you become a better artist. 


2. You don’t have to go to school, but you should

Tattooing laws vary from country to country and from state to state, but usually, you don’t have to possess a 4-year degree from a university or college to become a tattoo artist.

With that being said, you should seriously consider taking part in an online tattoo course or pursuing art studies. This will, of course, take time, but it will ensure that you are well-rounded and properly educated on the art of tattooing. Lucky for you, we have a comprehensive and fascinating masterclass, hosted by the great Hugo Feist. Our black and grey realism course will equip you with everything you need to know about making mind-blowing tattoos. 

3. Seek advice from experienced tattoo artists

In the earlier days of tattooing, young artists would work under the wing of an expert artist for a few months, or even years, to learn tattooing tips for beginners. Today, many artists forego this step and learn about tattooing online. 

With that being said, it’s still a good idea to seek advice from expert tattoo artists to supplement what you have learned. They can provide tattooing tips for beginners that are specific to your area and where you are in your journey to becoming a tattoo artist. Some artists might be hesitant to teach you their tips and tricks, so you may need to ask a few artists before you find the right fit for you. 

4. Keep practicing

By now, you must be tired of hearing ‘practice, practice, practice’, but the truth is, a tattoo artist never stops learning and growing. It is one of the most important tattooing tips for beginners to remember. 

You have to keep your art skills sharp so you can offer new techniques to your clients. You should also keep using your practice skins so you never miss a beat and can practice using new needles, machines, and inks. 

 Practicing with your machine will help you develop muscle strength which will become useful for doing multiple tattoos in a single day. It will also help you to build endurance for long tattooing sessions and complete large tattoos. Long-term, muscle memory starts to develop and tattooing will become second nature to you!

5. Invest in your tattooing equipment

Be prepared to invest a lot of capital initially into your tattooing equipment. The better the quality of the equipment is, the better the quality of tattoos you produce will be. 

You will also need miscellaneous items such as gloves, paper towels, spray bottles, rubber bands, skin pens, needles, and the list goes on. Ensure you always have these items handy and be prepared to buy them in large quantities, or bulk to ensure that they never run out. There’s nothing worse than not having the correct needle size to complete a tattoo, or running out of gloves mid-session!

You will also need to learn how to service your equipment when the time comes, and how to properly change and clean its components.

6. Master lining, shading, coloring, and lettering 

Every tattoo artist should master four basic things before attempting a tattoo on a client. These are lining, shading, coloring, and lettering. Your technique can make or break your tattoo, so be sure to plan how you will approach the artwork. 

Lining or outlining is basically the foundation of the tattoo, and is the most important part of the whole tattoo. You should be able to work with very fine lines or create thicker ones based on the tattoo requested by your client. Your lines need to be sharp and clean, and for this, you will need a steady hand.

Shading a tattoo creates depth and visual illusions that help to bring your tattoos to life. There are various techniques to achieve the desired results. You should be aware of how to manipulate black versus colored inks when shading, and how to shade a cover-up versus a fresh piece. You should also know how to tilt your needle and use various motions to achieve different results. 

Coloring refers to filling your outline with color. As a general rule, lighter colors are applied after darker colors in order to prevent staining. When working with colored inks, you should also ensure there is no black ink left in the tubes or needles. One rookie mistake beginners make is wiping dark ink onto freshly tattooed skin. This can ruin your tattoo and is very difficult to fix.

Lettering is an important skill to master since many clients will request a word or verse instead of an object. Your job is to not only master calligraphy but double-check spelling and meaning. You need to make sure that all of your letters are the same size and that you do not blow any letters out. 

7. Learn about the skin

The skin is the tattoo artist’s canvas, so you need to have extensive knowledge about it. 

Here are some of the top tattooing tips for beginners regarding skin:

  • You are working with a human being with nerves and feelings. Many experts suggest tattooing yourself to get a feel of how much pressure you should place on the machine. 
  • Tattoos last longer when the ink is injected into the dermis (middle layer). Ink placed in the epidermis(top layer of skin) will fade as the skin sheds and won’t last more than a few weeks.
  • Remember that tattooing involves wounding the skin many times with needles. Don’t get freaked out if you see blood. Just be sure to wipe as you go along.
  • Fair skin may be easier to tattoo than dark skin, but it really depends on the client’s skin type. Take the client’s undertone into consideration before applying colored ink. Many beginners end up overworking dark skin which causes the tattoo to heal poorly and perhaps develop scars or keloids.
  • If you’re unsure how to work with dark skin, do a color test and see how the various colors appear after it is healed. It makes more sense to use vibrant colors such as blues, reds, and greens than to highlight with white ink. 


Check Out Expert Guide To Becoming a Tattoo Artist

8. Keep disposable razors handy

You will have to keep disposable razors handy to shave clients before you begin working. This contributes to making the area more sterile before you start tattooing. It also prevents hair from being pushed back into the skin which can cause an infection/ingrown hair. 

A client’s hair may also distort the line work when using a stencil and affect the outcome of the tattoo. It can also get caught on the needle which can make lines look wobbly. 

9. Be honest

Sometimes, you have to be the voice of reason for your clients. If they come in with horrible ideas, especially regarding the art or placement, you must speak up.

This might be intimidating, especially as a beginner, since you don’t want to lose any clients. It’s always better to be honest with your clients instead of doing work that will heal badly or give you a bad reputation. 

10. Keep your portfolio up-to-date

Your portfolio as a tattoo artist is like a resume. It’s how employers and customers alike get an idea of your skillset. 

Do not fill your portfolio with stock images or stolen work. This makes you appear dishonest and it won’t garner trust in your skill. 

Fill your portfolio with your best pieces, including various placements and techniques. These pieces should be properly categorized and should be of high quality. No one wants to look in a raggedy folder scattered with low-quality images. A digital portfolio is an easy way to keep all of your tattoos in order and showcase your work. 

11. Keep abreast of new trends

The world is constantly changing its mind on what it likes and the next hot thing. As a tattoo artist, you have to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in the tattooing world. This means you’ll have to attend conventions, read tattooing-related news, and use social media to your advantage. 

You may even be asked to do similar designs over and over again by clients, so use it as a chance to become better at a certain type of tattoo. If your client isn’t making a fuss over getting a popular type of tattoo, you shouldn't either. 

12. Use social media to your advantage

One advantage that tattoo artists today have is social media. This can help your work to reach more people and attract new clients. Similarly, you may use it to network with other tattoo artists and share tattooing tips for beginners.

13. Be open to criticism

Do not take offense to any type of criticism you get while in the field. This may come from other tattoo artists and clients. Do not get too cocky and think you are above reproach, and listen to any constructive criticism you might receive. 

Instead, use the criticism as tattooing tips for beginners to help you improve and develop as an artist. You may encounter rude customers every once in a while, so try to separate the negativity from the actual critique and use it to your advantage. 

It might hurt to hear that a client is not pleased with the tattoo they chose, but it happens more often than you think. Find solace in the fact that you did your best with the design presented and try to figure out how you can do better next time. 

14. Don’t chase money

If you got into tattooing to become rich, you may have a rude awakening. Money comes and goes, but your reputation sticks with you for a lifetime. 

So, if a client is insisting on getting a tattoo that will not age well, you are better off declining than having that tattoo attached to your name. You may even lose out on money you desperately need as a beginner, but it will pay off in the end. 

15. Establish boundaries

Be prepared to establish boundaries within yourself and for your clients. You may be happy to finally land clients when you start but do not let this become your whole life. 

Establish business hours where you are free to discuss work and figure out what type of tattoos you aren’t willing to do. This may mean you may have to turn a teenager away from getting a face tattoo or refuse to tattoo a pregnant woman

One of the worst things that can happen on your journey to becoming a tattoo artist is finding out these tattooing tips for beginners too late. The more you know beforehand the greater chance you have at success. 

Do you want to read more about how to become a tattoo artist? Go ahead and check Authority Tattoo


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