7 Things you should know Before Becoming a Tattoo Artist.
Does becoming a Tattoo Artist only give you moments of glory and an easy life? We enter this job with magical visualizations of how fantastic it will be. Constant acclamation from other artists, thousands of supporters worldwide, doing great art on a daily basis, freedom of traveling and work, a job full of laugh and happiness. We visualize that so strong that I can almost feel like I am complete, and levitate above the ground filled with emotions of self-realization and freedom. Once you learn the trade are you immune to problems of that world? Or maybe there are monsters in the closet, waiting to come out just after the client leaves your studio, and supporters go to sleep?
Relationships are hard.
It is probably the biggest issue no one seems to talk about.
Tattoo society is filled with artists with broken relationships, separations, divorces, lonely people. I have been blessed with a fantastic family, having a super supportive wife, and two kids. Every day I thank ancient gods in the stars for it. But it is hard.
As a Tattoo Artist, you will be home late. You will leave early, and even if you are at home, very often you will have to prepare something for a client, or work on your skills. After eight years of tattooing, I am still spending with my family one day in a week. For the rest, they know that I am alive and work hard. I call my wife on video chat for lunch break, so she remembers how do I look like.
I have been blessed with a fantastic family
…do your best to keep it like that, because this is a rare and precious situation.
Tattoo artists are hard to live with. Job makes a dramatic impact on personal life, and it is merely hard to find a partner who will be able to accept that. That is why most of the artists I know are alone. So if you are a family man – do your best to keep it like that, because this is a rare and precious situation.
More often it is about fashion, not passion.
World is changing inevitably.
Tattoos are more and more popular
Tattoos are more in fashion than ever, and a trend is growing even more. Tattooer of modern days has to prepare for being in service for his customers. Their taste can be different than yours, and you are going to feel it. But at the end of the day, your job is to make people happy so bite your teeth and try to make the best of what is possible at the moment. Respect your customers, and with time they will come back for more advanced pieces, and they will grow as a collector as well. We all learn as a human being.
Do not judge! I remember tattoos that I liked when I was starting. Today I would consider them “not exciting” at best.
There will be moments of glory when you will be able to realize your passion fully, but even for the best tattoo artists, this is not every day.
Tattooing is a jealous job.
And do not want to see other hobbies in your life.
Tattooing is a big thing. The deeper you dig, the more is to discover. I tattoo for years, and each month I find out new skills I have to master. Learning never stops if you want to achieve something. You have to be obsessed, nothing fewer works.
As soon as you try to share your time with other hobbies – your tattooing progress will slow down or stop. I tried this many times.
For me, the only solution is to choose interests that go along the same direction then tattooing. So I educate myself on businesses matters, drawing, and painting, other digital media including photography and video making, all things that can add to my current skill set as a tattooer. But as soon as I go a bit sideways – I can see that my progress stops.
So tattooing is more than a job – it is a lifestyle.
Tattoo Artists make the hardest community I know.
Since I left my country and entered professional tattooing, I encountered all of the Dark Side: high competition, secrecy, criminals, etc.
Except for a few fantastic people I met on my road, I am sad to tell you that most of the folks suffer from some character properties. Many shops run extremely stressful environments where to survive you have to compete against each other (instead of working for greater good!) to endure. After a few months of work like that, and you start to grow habits that may affect your character for good.
I have seen great artists, inspiring people, turning into rock-star attitude vampires interested in money only. We all enter tattooing to do great art, but some of us when this road overwhelms them, turn into Dark Side.
Stay respectful to others, feed your good character attributes and punish all the bad feelings in you. Dark Side is powerful in tattooing, stay away from it.
You're a business owner, whatever you want it or not.
Funny thing, because we are all artists, right? How can we even deal with taxes, income flow, and other businesses matters?
When you are becoming a tattoo artist, you automatically become self-employed. Most shops work on the percentage pay. What you will get from shop depends greatly. But for most of the times your machines, inks, needles are your investments. You are also responsible for your accounting. Personal marketing will help as well because even if the shop is doing something for you, it does it only as a consequence of boosting its presence on the market.
Also, there is no long-term contract or complicated agreement that protects you from any unemployment situations. If you are not beneficial enough, you may lose your job in the night. Not only you are an artist, but you are also businessman at the same time! I find it exciting and believe that when you do that part well, it can only support your future progress as an artist. But for many tattooers, this is hard.
Only few can be Artists at full, rest of us will be Tattooers.
Becoming a Tattoo Artist who has loads of artistic freedom and does fantastic work is like wanting to become a millionaire or inventor.
The same attitude is needed. You can't go easy for yourself. You have to stay focused, learn like crazy, and be able to do for your dreams things no one else is willing to do. And only then, with a bit of luck, and with a connection to the right people you can get there.
You have to have it in your blood. This endless hunger for more that doesn't allow you to stop for a second. Most of us won't have it though, so either you will grow it, or you accept to be a regular tattooer. Don't get me wrong, nothing wrong with that!
It is like with fashion designers. There are many people sewing clothes, doing custom t-shirts, etc. but big names like Dior, Saint-Laurent or Valentino are few. And even we all would love to get to this level, it is achievable only to selected individuals with unmatched work ethic, obsession, and talent.
Making new friends is hard.
Everything is businesses relation automatically: customers, shop owners, and other tattooers.
You're offering expensive service, yet many people desire it. Your success may affect the success of other shops around your place. Even if you do not make everything “businesses,” the other party will. Building sustainable friendships in a situation like that will be fierce. My friends are either not interested in tattooing at all (that is rare these days), or are acclaimed tattoo artists as well now.
You will have to find your way how to deal with new contacts. How you answer initial curiosity questions about your trade, and even possible “trying to get an advantage of your” approaches. It is extremely hard at first. It is important to remember to always see human on the other side. Otherwise, your ego might eat you.
Award is great though.
But do not get fixated on the hard and bad things of the job only. If you get your money right, got used to hard-core work ethic, get an education and constant progress right, and get some sound support, you can win one of the best jobs on the planet. It will allow you to do anything you want to do creatively. With a second medium to support your tattooing, you will be able to have fun with whatever you choose: photography, painting, video making, drawing, street art, installations, art printing. Making you entirely free with the subject matter. There are almost endless possibilities for travels and meeting other creative people only if you take action and have a bit of courage. You will be rewarded and motivated on a daily basis.
A road to this place in life is hard and seems unfair sometimes. For me, I have pretty regularly those moments of questioning myself: is it going in the right direction? Till that time I answer to my self each time: Yeah, let's push this Tattooing a bit further in my life, and then we will see.
It seems like it is all about the journey in the end.
No, thanks. I love my hamster wheel.