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How To Become A Tattooist

Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular and gone are the days where they were the mark of a sailor and often depicted the history of the sailor and were a constant reminder of the sailor’s experiences and achievements. Some were for superstitious reasons while others showed where in the world they had travelled to and many sailors would recognise others' tattoos and their meanings without having to ask for an explanation.
Written by
Joanna Clare
Content Manager
Published on
November 24, 2023

Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular and gone are the days where they were the mark of a sailor and often depicted the history of the sailor and were a constant reminder of the sailor’s experiences and achievements. Some were for superstitious reasons while others showed where in the world they had travelled to and many sailors would recognise others' tattoos and their meanings without having to ask for an explanation.

Tattoos have become more socially acceptable and fashionable over the last few decades in the UK and are no longer frowned upon. Quite the contrary, tattoos are admired and with a little over a quarter of the UK population having at least one -  with young adults this rises to one in every three people.

Tattoos are a form of body art which is permanent. A chosen design, symbol or script is made in the desired place on the body or face by puncturing the skin with specialised needles and by injecting tattoo ink into the deep layer of the skin so that it becomes permanently pigmented.

There are no formal requirements or qualifications to become a tattoo artist. To become a tattoo artist you will undoubtedly need to have artistic and creative flair. You will be competent in design techniques and able to use different computer software which can, for example, generate images which can be amended to suit your clients preferences although this can be learned as your training progresses.. Additionally excellent attention to detail and concentration skills are necessary as tattoos leave no room for error and some can take a long time to create, depending on the size and area of the body which it is being applied to. You will need to work under pressure and it goes without saying to have a steady hand and excellent eyesight! An interest in biology and how the body works as well as basic first aid will be invaluable as you continue learning. As you will be working with members of the public, you will also need great interpersonal skills.

By law, you must be aged at least eighteen and you are not allowed to tattoo anyone under this age in the UK which is set out by the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969, otherwise it is illegal. There are various professional bodies and associations  that you should familiarise yourself with.  

You can take certain short courses in tattooing but the disadvantage of this is that you can not become qualified unless you get practical experience in a studio that is registered. All tattoo premises and tattoo artists must be registered with the local council and obtain a license.

A Hepatitis B vaccination will be required to prevent the spread of infection and to keep everyone safe. This vaccination is recommended for anyone who works with the risk of accidental contact with blood.

Learning to master the art of tattooing takes dedication, time and practice so training with an approved professional is the acceptable way to get involved in the industry. It is here that you will learn ‘hands on’ the various aspects of the trade such the different techniques and usage of the specialised equipment as well as health, safety and hygiene and the art of tattooing. Adhering to strict hygiene procedures are paramount.

Once you find a studio who is willing to employ you, you will be supervised and mentored until you are competent enough to work unsupervised. You can then start to work towards creating your own portfolio which will showcase all your talent. Tattoo artists often rely on both recommendations and networking to get themselves known and can often become highly successful and sought after either working for themselves or someone else.

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