7 Tattoo Artists Share Their Best Advice For Breaking Into the Industry

tattoo artists share best advice for breaking into the industry
Credit: David Clifton

If chasing your dreams was easy, everyone would do it. As with so many artistic professions, looking in from the outside, breaking into the tattoo industry can seem like a mystery. It’s not like you can study it in college or practice with a tattoo machine at home. So, how do you begin? We talked to tattoo artists who went from asking themselves these same questions and seeking advice to finding a place in the industry. Check out how they broke into the industry, their best advice, and what they recommend for aspiring tattoo artists trying to do the same.

1. Learn to create beautiful things on any surface

“I’ve been drawing my whole life. I studied graphic design but soon realized that I like to work with my hands and not only with a computer. Tattooing is the perfect way to make my art and, at the same time, work with nice people from around the world. My advice for an aspiring tattoo artist is to draw, draw, draw. Tattooing, in the end, is just another technique for drawing on a strange canvas. You need to evolve your ability to create something beautiful, whether it is on an underarm or on paper.” – Lucas Dauner

2. Listen to your mentors

“I started in the tattoo industry when I was in school (17 years old). In a normal art class one day there was a new teacher. He saw my drawings and sketches and he give me the idea to start tattooing. He told me that he had friends that could teach me to build a basic tattoo machine and I started practicing creating my own tools and needles. For the new generation of tattoo artists, I recommend that they practice their creativity by watching animation movies and drawing.” – Oxel

3. Be authentically yourself as an artist

“I really broke into the industry all on my own, with just my spirit guidance, and wedged a space for me. At first, I wasn’t well received, because the work I do as an Intuitive Healing Artist is really different from what we see as the majority in the tattoo industry today. But I was determined to show up for the work that was coming through me because I knew it could help a lot of people. My advice for aspiring tattoo artists, especially female identifying artists, is to stand strong in who you are as an artist and take up the space you were born to take up. Work hard (both inward and outward), find your own creative voice, don’t take no for an answer, and just be authentically YOU.” – Ashley Glynn

4. Don’t be afraid of a change in scenery

“I was moving to the UK from France to find an apprenticeship because the tattoo industry in France is pretty hard for anybody without a friend in it. So for anyone looking to become a tattoo artist, I think the best way is to stay focused, not be afraid to move to another country and draw, draw, draw!” – Vince Tatwo

5. Imagine the tattoo in your head

“My best advice is to close your eyes and imagine what tattoo would you like to have. And then do it on others.” – Kozo

6. Don’t give up until you find your chance

“One day in L.A. I took my digital portfolio and went to Melrose Avenue, where a lot of tattoo shops were located. I went in every single one and none of them didn’t want to take me on. I didn’t give up. I want into the last one on the street. The owner of the shop looked at me very skeptically — a girl with four small tattoos holding not even a ‘real’ portfolio in her hands and asking for an apprenticeship spot. Now I work as a freelancer and I’m planning a big world trip.

It was the beginning of my apprenticeship in one of the most creative and popular cities in the world. It was a hard journey: I had to work at 9 a.m. till 5:30 p.m at the office and went right after straight to the shop. One year of tiredness, twelve to sixteen hours working and one day off. However, It was the hardest but the happiest time of my life. Nothing can compare with the feeling of chasing your dreams. It doesn’t matter how hard it is if everything inside of you is full of passion.

My tip for people considering to become a tattoo artist is not to give up. If you really want it, you will do it. Create a nice portfolio with drawings, draw every single day, watch youtube videos about successful tattoo artists and different techniques. There is so much information nowadays. Next step- go for it! There is always one person with a “yes” between of hundred people with a “no”. All you need is your drawing talent, passion and belief in your dream.” – Julia Kravtsova

7. Find solace for the tattoo community

“I broke into the tattoo industry 23 years ago when the tattoo world was not yet an industry.” – Amanda Toy

Related: Here’s Everything You Need to Know Before Becoming a Tattoo Artist

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