In this article, I would like to talk about whether becoming a tattoo artist is right for you. I am going to ask a series of questions, and I’d like you to rank yourselves from 1 to 5, 1 meaning you completely disagree, and 5 you completely agree. In that way, you can rank yourself to know whether or not tattooing is the right career choice for you.
Disclaimer: This quiz is based on my subjective perception, and not necessarily agreeable for you.
- Are you willing to give up all your free time?
Are you willing to give up time with your family, friends, partner etc. in order to focus on your career and to make sure you are the best artist you can be? Most people don’t realize how much work goes into being a tattoo artist, they don’t realize that you give up all of your free time, and when you get home, you end up drawing, or fixating on things you could have done better on the tattoo you did that day.
- Are you willing to redraw the same thing over again, and changing the smallest details?
You need to draw your designs multiple times and fix the minutest details, and make sure each client is completely satisfied with each aspect of your design. Many people think tattooing is as simple as drawing a design and your client will like your original concept and everyone’s happy. This is far from the truth. Often, artists will have to redraw the smallest detail for each tattoo design multiple times because the littlest detail isn’t completely perfect. This is something you need to be eager to do if you want to succeed, especially early in your career.
- Are you willing to give up creative control?
Are you willing to give up your style or having creative control over your art? You have to be an all-round talented tattoo artist who can do everything. You should be confident of fulfilling any request that walks in through the shop door. This will just build up your client base, and make sure you can afford to stay and succeed in this industry.
- Do you have a thick skin and can take criticism well?
You’re not only going to get criticized by your mates at the shop and clients, but a lot of people online as well. You’re going to get criticized by people who work around you, especially if they’re trying to encourage you to do better. You will be shouted at, made to feel really bad, and more, just to try and get you to improve your tattooing. If this is not something you’re able to deal with, then I suggest that you walk away before you get any deeper into it.
- Are you willing to give up one or two years of your life to work for free?
You need to give up at least a year or more of your life in order to do an unpaid apprenticeship, and the best way to learn is through an apprenticeship because you will be in a supervised environment with professionals who know how to tattoo safely. They understand cross contamination and give you all of their knowledge to make sure you’re not making huge mistakes. In trade for this information they would expect you to work in the studio for free. This means you would be expected to tear down and setup stations, clean the studio floors, the bathroom, the shelves, etc., also run around picking up lunch, supplies, etc. This is a right of passage, and it is extremely important if you want to be the best in this industry. This is because tattooing is not just a job, it’s a way of life.
- Are you adaptable and open-minded?
You need to have the ability to adapt in an industry that’s constantly changing and evolving. You not only need to be able to deal with difficult clients, but also difficult situations and difficult tattoos that walk through the door. Going in with an open mind makes it much easier to deal with difficult clients and difficult tattoos because you would be able to think about things differently, try different approaches and try different styles of tattooing.
- Do you have a good sense of humour?
Tattooing is a very serious industry, but the everyday life in a studio can be difficult to get used to, especially if you don’t have a good sense of humour, or if you’re not thick-skinned. Sometimes, you need to be able to laugh at yourself and you need to be able to let people laugh at you without being seriously affected by this.
- How patient are you?
With the amount of tattoo artists out there, you need to be willing to compete, and that means going above and beyond what everyone else is doing. One of the best ways you can do this is customer service. What this means is answering stupid questions you keep getting asked, over and over again and overall making sure that you don’t make your clients feel that they are asking stupid questions. This can go a long way and by doing this, build up a client base, you can build your career and succeed in this industry.
- Will you be able to survive on an unpredictable income?
As a tattoo artist, you only get paid when you tattoo and you still have to cover the cost of the supplies you use, or at the very least, pay your percent to the studio you work for. What this means is typically early in your career, you are probably not going to be making much money, and the money you do make is going to come in sporadic bursts. You have to make sure that you can support your family or your lifestyle during this time by working multiple jobs or having someone in your family that is able to support you. If you were not able to do this, I would recommend waiting to get into tattooing until the opportunity arises for you to be able to make some sort of income or survive with no income at all with savings.
- Do you give up easily?
Tattooing isn’t a career for the faint of heart; it’s not a career that you want to get into if you run at the first sign of trouble. There are many things that are going to be thrown at you, especially in the first few years of your career, apprenticeships are made to break the tattooer that’s learning, the reason is to make sure you are capable and worthy of learning how to tattoo.
- Are you willing to put in the hours?
Are you willing to work 7 days a week, 12 or more hours a day in order to succeed? Tattooing without a doubt is more than a job, it is a lifestyle. Early in your career, you would want to take work whenever it’s available, and what that means is that you’re going to be tattooing for extremely long periods of time. Sometimes you’re going to get 10 walk-ins in one day and your going to have to stay and get through all of them, working late into the night and waking up early to get to the studio again the next day. This is something that happens a lot in this industry. Sometimes you get nothing but you need to keep yourself productive for 12 hours drawing, doing studio things, watching and observing artists’ work. Then go home and draw again. If you’re not willing to put the time in and sacrifice nights out, and if you don’t want to get up early to start this routine over and over again, this is not the career choice for you.
If you have less than 30 out of 50, you should probably not be in this industry. If you have a high score about 35 to 45, then tattooing might be the right choice for you. If it’s over 45, hell yeah, what are you waiting for?
However, you may want to think long and hard before you decide to go through this career path, as this industry is so competitive, you need to go above and beyond and do whatever it takes to succeed.
Those with natural talent are definitely going to have the upper hand, but it doesn’t mean it is going to be easy. Mediocre is definitely not needed in this industry. It is only for those who love tattooing, who eat, sleep and breathe it, and if you’re not that type of person, you should probably think of a different career path.