Tattoo artists can gain a great deal of knowledge from hands-on experience. As you spend more time working with clients and perfecting your craft, you’re gaining valuable knowledge and skills that can’t quite be taught in a classroom environment. However, that doesn’t mean that education isn’t important for a tattoo artist. As tattoo work becomes more popular, so does the amount of time, energy and money people are willing to put into making tattoos better and safer for everyone. That’s why continuing your education as you grow your business is extremely important.
While a college degree is not required to become a professional tattoo artist, it can be beneficial to take art courses early on in high school or community college to learn about basic design theory, scale, shading, proportion, color theory and other skills that will help you create better tattoos.
Aside from possessing a great deal of creativity and artistic ability, a professional tattoo artist should know how to best showcase their work to gain an apprenticeship and start building a client base. A good portfolio should highlight your versatility, artistic ability and your passion for tattoo work.
During the early stages of apprenticeship, you may be required by shop owners to take additional art classes or seek outside instruction to build your skill level. The Alliance of Professional Tattooists recommends that an apprenticeship last for at least 3 years. This is an opportunity for aspiring tattoo artists to learn about the business aspect of running a shop as well as the importance of following proper safety guidelines, handling tattoo machines and the design process.
Some state health departments and other local regulatory agencies may also require classroom experience before you can get your professional license. For example, the state of Oregon requires artists to complete 360 hours of training under an approved artist as well as 50 tattoos before they can be licensed. Written exams and skills tests are also necessary for licensing in most states.
Depending on where you live, you may be required to complete a specified number of continuing education credits before you can renew your license. While this may seem like just another hurdle to some, it can actually be a great opportunity to make sure you are up-to-date with the latest safety standards and techniques to provide your clients with the highest level of work.
There are a number of different seminars and classes available via professional organizations like the Alliance of Professional Tattooists and other, more localized groups. Because tattoo artists are not only creating art but working in potentially hazardous health conditions, making sure that you are aware of current safety rules and regulations is extremely important. Continuing your education can also be a great way to network within the community and build your client base. With the help of regular classroom instruction or seminars, you can give yourself and your clients peace of mind and hopefully avoid any potential liability claims in the future.
Body art regulations differ from state to state but making sure that you are meeting and even exceeding the education requirements for licensing in your state can be beneficial in many ways, including:
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