How To Become a Tattoo Artist In 13 Easy Steps

Learning how to become a tattoo artist can be intimidating, but the true challenge is in learning it properly...

Tattooing For Beginners: 9 Simple Steps

All of us that are passionate about tattooing for beginners want to know how to tattoo fast and easy....

The 4 Secrets to a Successful Tattoo Business

For many tattoo artists, owning a shop is a dream come true.  But, owning a business is about more...
Inspiration, Tattoo Instruction
How To Become a Tattoo Artist In 13 Easy Steps
Tattoo Instruction
Tattooing For Beginners: 9 Simple Steps
Tattoo Business
The 4 Secrets to a Successful Tattoo Business

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About… is simply about the art and process of tattooing…

This includes not only the process of tattooing, but also about what it takes to become a tattoo artist the right and safe way. Before anyone can become a tattoo artist, a good understanding and background knowledge of the process, the equipment and safety procedure is vital. On this website, we will cover various aspects on the subject of tattooing from techniques, to equipment, to tattoo flash, even aspects such as getting your license and paying taxes as an artist, it's all here.

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At Bulldog Tattoo Supply we strive to bring you the best products, while staying within your budget.

Tattoo Artist Tips

The Five Foundations of Becoming a Tattoo Artist the Right WayFeatured

Tattoo GirlThere are so many paths that lead to a career as a professional tattoo artist, and one of the only things they have in common is the belief that the path one person took is the BEST path for everyone.  This really isn’t true, or else there wouldn’t be so many ways to end up in the industry.

So, this article isn’t saying that this is the “only” way to fulfill the dream of becoming a tattoo artist. Instead, it’s offering advice on what is a tried-and-true method for how to get to where you want to be.

Following a path along these lines provides a good progression toward becoming a tattoo artist…

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Tattoo Business

Building An Empire of Ink, Part 3: 4 Ways a Tattoo Business Is Different From Other Small Businesses 

Tattoo Studio

Tattoo Studio at night.

Building An Empire of Ink, Part 3: 4 Ways a Tattoo Business Is Different From Other Small Businesses 


So, you’re interested in starting a business, and you’ve been looking at tattoo shops. Will this make a great small business? Absolutely! 


However, it’s important to go into this venture with eyes wide open. Tattoo shops make great small businesses, but they are also very different from the small businesses you may have seen your friends start. 


Don’t worry, though: we put together a comprehensive guide to how tattoo shops are unlike any other small businesses! 


High Equipment Cost 


Tattoo artist at work

Tattoo artist at work

Every great tattoo has a bit of pain behind it. So, in the spirit of working through the pain, we figured we’d rip the band-aid off right away: this is going to be expensive. 


Many small businesses owners can cut costs by starting a business at home. Tattoo shop on the other hand need a sterile and regulated place to work from, you’re going to end up buying an average of $25,000 in equipment for a fully outfitted shop. 


And before you ask, you can’t really cut corners with this stuff.

“Your success is your reputation, and low-quality equipment leads to low-quality work. “


The Marketing Is Different 


Unlike other small businesses, tattoo shops market their business very differently. This is mostly because of the complicated feelings America has about tattoos. 


On one hand, tattoos are becoming more and more popular, especially with Millennials. That’s why tattoo shops are so attractive to people who are starting a business. With the popularity of “tattoo TV” leading the trend, tattoos are even becoming more acceptable in the workplace. 


Tattoo TV

Tattoo TV

However, tattoos still seem like a cultural taboo to many people in many places. Your marketing should lean into this, emphasizing tattoos as a way to rebel and assert someone’s independence from others. 


Additionally, social media marketing is an absolute must for tattoo shops. If you’re not rocking Instagram and Pinterest as a tattoo artist, you’re missing out on a lot of potential traffic! 


The Atmosphere Is Different 


This next point is an offshoot of the previous one: customers have a certain set of expectations when it comes to tattoo shops and their atmosphere. 


A more “traditional” small business is all about a minimal atmosphere. That means clear walls, vibrant colors, and bright lights. Fortunately, tattoo shops get to stand out from the crowd. 


It’s fine to have walls covered with cool art, and it’s especially good to cover walls with your own designs and flash sheets. The atmosphere should have muted colors as well: think black furniture, dark blue walls, and so on. A good shop looks like the town’s coolest bar, minus the alcohol. 


Inside a successful tattoo shop

Inside a successful tattoo shop

And while your actual work area needs good lighting, your shop lights shouldn’t be too bright. Dim lights make the atmosphere more mysterious—and when it comes to tattoos, that makes them more inviting! 


Easy Expansion 


We’ll end on a high note with one more way your tattoo shop is different from other small businesses: it’s very easy to expand. 


Most small businesses focus on doing one thing very well. However, diversifying your business is the key to growing both customers and profits. 


It’s very easy for tattoo shops to also start offering piercing services, for instance. Since customers will need special products to help clean and maintain tattoos and piercing, you should be selling those products as well. Some of the more common products we’re asked for are shirt, pins, and stickers. Anything that lets the customer “wear” more of your work without a permanent commitment, and at a lower price point that a full on tattoo.


Finally, tattoo shops can offer tattoo removal and repair services. It’s really that simple: add three times the service and watch your customers grow!  


Final Thoughts 


Now you know why tattoo shops are unlike any other small businesses. But do you know how else to succeed? 


Stay tuned to Tattooing 101 for the latest tips on starting and marketing your shop! 


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Building An Empire of Ink, Part 2: How to Attract New Customers and Retain Old Ones 

Tattoo Shop at Night

Tattoo Studio at Night

 Building An Empire of Ink, Part 2: How to Attract New Customers and Retain Old Ones 

You want your business to succeed rather than being one of those tattoo shops that fades away. But that means you’re going to have to find the perfect customer balance. 


What is “customer balance?” Simply this: you need to simultaneously focus on attracting new customers while retaining your existing ones. 


The truth is that this is difficult, and many small businesses fail because they don’t know how to do it. But with these easy tips, you’ll have enough customers so that your “small” business isn’t so small any more! 


Online Booking 


As a tattoo artist, your goal is to attract more customers. To do this, you need to focus on one key idea: making every part of the experience easier for your customers. 


Many tattoo shops will only take appointments in person. But this means they are leaving money on the table, as many potential customers are too busy to come schedule their first appointment. 


As a bonus, online booking makes it very easy for satisfied customers to share the link to your site with their friends. This makes it easy to bring new customers in while maintaining convenience for previous customers. 


Power of Pinterest 



Click above to check us out on pinterest.

Here at Tattooing 101, we’re big believers in Pinterest. Tattoos are a visual medium, so putting your work on a highly visual social media platform makes it easy for customers to discover a new tattoo artist. 


The other great thing about Pinterest is that users will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. For instance, you can put a Pinterest save button on every image you feature on your website. When customers pin it to their Pinterest boards, it makes them likelier to come to you rather than other tattoo shops. 


Meanwhile, others can see what their friends and followers have pinned. That means your sphere of influence expands—and all you had to do was upload an image! 


Pay Ahead of Time 


Many tattoo shops are really old-school when it comes to money, preferring cash interactions whenever possible. But that may be enough to turn off potential customers who avoid carrying cash and prefer to pay with some form of electronic payment. 


As a tattoo artist, you can make everyone happy by letting customers pay ahead of time on your website, or pay in the shop with a credit card. Those who prefer paying by cash can still do so, but others will feel a big peace of mind when using their credit cards instead.


Of course taking payments early in the form of a deposit makes it much less likely that a customer will cancel their appointment. 


Create a Mailing List 


A mailing list may not sound like an exciting solution for a tattoo artist. However, it’s an easy way to retain customers, and it doesn’t cost anything extra! 


Basically, you have existing customers and potential customers provide their e-mail address to sign up for the list. Then, you send them regular e-mails about new services, deals, upcoming local events, and so on. 


Potential customers will be interested in the deals, while existing customers will be interested in everything else. And because setting up a mailing list is free, the return on investment for this is huge! 


Final Thoughts 


If you want to succeed over other tattoo shops, you need to stay on the cutting edge. Keep coming back to Tattooing 101 for more info on how to stand out as a tattoo artist! 

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Tattoo Business

Psychology of Tattoos: What Your Customers Really Want From a Tattoo Experience 

Psychology of Tattoos: What Your Customers Really Want From a Tattoo Experience 



 Ultimately, the success of tattoo shops comes down to how well they can give customers what they want. If you’re an aspiring artist, ask yourself: do you know what your customers really want? 


It’s a pretty tall order. If we’re being honest, most people don’t know what they really want on any given day. We’ve put together an easy guide to what your customers really want from a tattoo experience. 


A Real Relationship 

Barber chairs.

Great looking barbershop.


Barber shops and tattoo shops don’t seem like they have much in common. However, they share one big quality:

“customers want to feel like they have an actual relationship with employees. “

 That means you shouldn’t focus all of your attention on your sweet tattoo designs. Take the time to talk to the customer. Let the conversation flow naturally, like you just met a cool new person at a party. 


If the customer believes you care, they’ll love the experience. This builds the kind of loyalty that is the foundation for a highly successful shop. 


Meaning Behind the Ink 

Artist as work.

Tattoo artist hard at work.


To your customers, tattoo designs are more than just ink. They are a story: every tattoo has a special meaning to the person wearing it. 


What your customers really want, then, is a tattoo artist that knows the meaning behind the ink. A basic knowledge of everything from Japanese characters to religious symbols will impress the customers as to how much you know about your craft. 


They will come to see you as more than the artist behind some awesome tattoo designs. They will see you as a storyteller who can help bring their story to life more vividly than any other tattoo shops. 


Assurances of Quality 


Have you ever thought about how much commitment a tattoo really is? The customer is trusting you to change their skin in a way that will last their entire lives. 


Before they take the plunge, then, what your customers really want is an assurance of your quality. Make sure that you have pictures of your previous tattoos and artwork prominently displayed in your shop. Also, make sure you have a thorough portfolio of tattoos from satisfied customers, as well as reviews on Yelp and Google. 


When they know you’re the real deal, then customers will choose you over other tattoo shops. 


Clean Shop and Good Vibes 


The last thing that customers really want is also the hardest for you to pull off. Specifically, they want an environment that is simultaneously clean and cool. 


Tattoo Studio

Tattoo Studio at night.

These customers want your shop to look clean so that they don’t have to worry about things like dirty needles. However, your shop shouldn’t look like a sterile downtown office—it should use dark colors and plenty of accessories (from posters to games and toys) that help show off your personality. 


After all, half the fun of getting a tattoo is the mystique of the tattoo shops. And you can easily be clean without losing your “cool”! 


The Bottom Line 


Now you know what your customers really want. But do you know what your next step should be? 


Stay tuned to Tattooing 101 for all the tips you need to take your tattoo designs and tattoo shop to the next level! 


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copy tattoo
Tattoo Artist Tips, Tattoo Facts

Don’t Be a “Copytat”: Why Copying Tattoos Is Deeply Uncool

What’s the Big Deal With Copying a Tattoo? 

For many tattoo artists, finding out their design has been copied (or, put more bluntly, stolen) is absolutely terrible news. But for aspiring artists or those just starting out, it may be confusing. What’s the big deal with a copied tattoo, anyway? 

For a tattoo artist, a copied tattoo is literally bad for business. It devalues their brand because someone else is out there effectively profiting off of their cool ideas and hard work. 

Copied tattoos ultimately hurt clients, too. Part of what tattoo clients are paying for is getting a unique design from the original artist. Accidentally getting a stolen design will make them feel their tattoo is next to worthless when they find out.

Rip-Off or Homage? 

The world of art is a lot like the world of music. And that means there is a fine line between ripping off someone else’s work and creating an homage.

Generally speaking, it’s the rip-off designs that annoy people in the tattoo community. This is when an artist tries to recreate every aspect of someone else’s design.

However, other artists may use a cool design as inspiration for their own version of the idea. Or maybe incorporate some of the original design into a larger tattoo. Generally, this is more acceptable because it involves creating something new instead of slavishly recreating the original.

The Magic Word Is “Please”

If you’re a tattoo artist and you just really want to recreate someone else’s design, there’s a simple rule you need to follow. Just ask them!

Now, be warned: most artists will simply say “no” and that is that. However, other artists may be okay if you give them credit as the original designer. Or they may request that you refer interested clients over to their Instagram page or online portfolio.

At the end of the day, we don’t really recommend trying to duplicate someone elses tattoo. But if you’re that interested, just ask. All they can say is “yes,” “no,” or “maybe,” and like the philosopher Meat Loaf might put it, “two out of three ain’t bad!”

tattoo copying

Importance of Cool Tattoo Ideas

We’ve talked a lot about why a copied tattoo is usually a bad idea. Now, let’s shift gears and talk about the importance of cool tattoo ideas.

Part of the fun of being a tattoo artist is working outside of those traditional, boring jobs your friends have. But you still have to worry about the same marketing concepts as any other small business, including your brand.

Even the best duplicated tattoo is just a copy of someone else’s good idea. By focusing on creating your own cool tattoo ideas, you’ll build your brand and generate awesome word of mouth from all your satisfied customers!

In fact, reDRAWING the work of artists you admire is one of the best ways to learn their style, as long as you aren’t intending to sell that work or post it for credit. Repetition is the mother of learning, and if you continuously draw and study the masters you’ll eventually start to find your own “voice”.


Now you know why copying a tattoo is a bad idea and you should always be original. But do you know how you can become more creative and innovative than ever before?

Keep reading blogs like Tattooing 101 to get all the juicy ideas to help inspire your next artistic creation! Keep drawing and practicing, and meet us in the forums to exchange notes and learn from fellow artists!

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tattoo shop
Tattoo Artist Tips, Tattoo Business

Building An Empire of Ink, Part 1: How to Make Your Tattoo Business Stand Out

Chances are that when you started your tattoo business, you thought the hard part was over. After all, you just survived nearly drowning in an ocean of paperwork and regulations! However, the real hard part of owning tattoo shops is marketing them. There are more tattoo artists emerging each and every day, leaving you with a clear question: how can you make your tattoo business stand out?

The Art of Online

First off,  it’s vitally important that tattoo shops have an online presence. And not just any presence: you need to be highly active on Pinterest and Instagram.

Each of these forms of social media was designed to help people share art and other awesome visual images. And each platform serves a valuable purpose for your business.

Pinterest helps you show off your cool tattoos in an organic way. Users will discover your art when they are looking for inspiration, and if you’re lucky, your art might just “go viral”.

Instagram also makes it easy for others to share your artwork. On top of that, it provides an easy way for users to get in touch with you. By making your business easy to reach online, you’ll generate more leads for your tattoo business.

Seasonal Specials

The average man on the street has no idea how much tattoos cost. And if you ask, they’re likely to give you one answer: “too much!”

You can help dispel this myth by offering seasonal specials on certain tattoos. For instance, offering deals on small romantic tattoos on Valentine’s Day, or a selection of spooky tattoos on Friday the 13th or halloween.

This helps you generate buzz while also showing how affordable your services can be compared to other tattoo shops.

Diversify Your Services

Not all tattoo shops can take this next step. But if you can, it’s a real game-changer. What are we talking about? Adding services to your tattoo shop.

In addition to slinging ink and crafting cool tattoos, your shop could attract even more customers if you hire a piercer. This draws in new clientele while offering your original customers another service they may be interested in.

Plus, your business is your ultimate investment, and offering additional services is your way of diversifying that investment and making it stronger than ever!

Become a Community Leader

Many tattoo artists consider themselves gifted loners. If that’s you, we’ve got some sobering news. For your shop to succeed, you’ll need to become a community leader.

If your town has special community events, try to get yourself a booth or table at those events. Better yet, get in touch with community leaders and see if you can sponsor an event you know people will love.

This is basically a marketing trifecta for your business. For people that have never heard of your shop, this gives them a chance to know you personally. And for others that look down on tattoo shops, this is a chance to prove you are devoted to giving back to your community. Finally, these festivals are a perfect breeding ground for good word of mouth advertisement. And that’s the real-life blood of your success!

To Be Continued…

Now you know how to stand out from the other tattoo shops. But your journey isn’t over yet!

Keep coming back to Tattooing 101 as we continue our Building An Empire of Ink series and provide all that you need to succeed!

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bloodborne pathogens certification
Tattoo Facts, Tattoo Instruction

Why Every Tattoo Artist Needs a Bloodborne Pathogens Certification

The life of a tattoo artist may seem like it’s all fun and games. After all, you get to spend each day hanging with cool people and bringing your art to life.

But before you can get the job, there are a few extra steps you’ll need to take, and the biggest one is getting your blood-borne pathogens certification.

Curious what this is and why you need it? Keep reading to discover our complete guide!

What Is a Blood-borne Pathogens Certification?

When you started looking into a career as a tattoo artist, you probably didn’t think you’d need some of the same certifications as a nurse. So, it’s important that we answer your question: what is a blood-borne pathogens certification, anyway?

This is a special certification that ensures you have received proper training to handle any issues that come up regarding (you guessed it) blood-borne pathogens. A federal law instituted back in 2000 requires such workers undergo special training so that a business can retain its OSHA certification.

Ultimately, this certification and training are to help ensure you don’t accidentally transmit any pathogens.

How Are Blood-borne Pathogens Actually Transmitted?

In case you’re wondering, “blood-borne pathogens” is a catch-all term. It may refer to any kinds of infectious micro-organisms that are in a person’s body. This includes exotic and scary infections (such as Ebola or AIDS) and more mundane ones (such as hepatitis).

Unfortunately, it’s very easy for these pathogens to be transmitted: pretty much any infected person’s body fluid can pass the infection along. Because tattoo artists are at risk of both exposure to blood and exposure to infected needles, the right training can literally save your life.

Why Do I Need the Certification?

In addition to being federally required, there are many reasons you need this blood-borne pathogens certification. We already mentioned the primary reason: because your life may be on the line!

A good training program will help you understand the kind of preventative maintenance that will mitigate your chance of infection. It will also make sure you know how to clean and sterilize your equipment so you don’t pass anything on to anyone else by accident.

Finally, your training will prepare you for true emergencies. If you fear that you or someone else has been infected, you will know what steps and precautions to take next.

Who Should I Get the Certification From?

There are many potential ways to get your certification. That leaves a big question: how should you get started? 

We recommend getting your certification through the American Red Cross. It is currently only thirty dollars to take the course, and all the training is completely online. That makes it easy to afford and easy to work into pretty much any schedule.

Just think: once you’re certified, you’re one step closer to your dream job as a tattoo artist!

Final Thoughts 

Now you know what the blood-borne pathogens certification is and why you need it. But do you know what step to take next? 

To continue your journey to becoming a tattoo artist, be sure to read the rest of our comprehensive articles here at Tattooing 101!

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Inspiration, Tattoo History

A Guide to Russian Prison Tattoos

The ink worn and created in Russian prisons is a mysterious and often intimidating underside to the world of tattoos. Each marking represents a crime, a vicious act, a hostile set of beliefs or the bearers standing in the criminal underworld. For a cop, they can give vital information and sometimes enough to send that guy back to prison or even to save the life of the man with the badge.

We took a look at a new book – Thief in Law: A guide to Russian prison tattoos and Russian-speaking organized crime (Schiffer Publishing) written by our friend Mark Bullen, the former British police officer responsible for investigating the Russian Mafia, and training Western Europe’s police on Russian criminal tattoos. With more than 100+ original photographs taken in prisons and police stations by the author and other officers, the book decodes and explains what each of these secret criminal markings mean and explains how the Russian Mafia became so dominant in the world of organized crime.

The tradition of prison tattoos in Russia goes all the way back to the start of Stalin’s rule over the Soviet Union and the formation of the infamous Gulag network. Prisoners used tattoos as a way to show their resistance to the new rule of the Communist Party, a secret language using ink was born.  Crude images depicting the NKVD (the forerunner of the KGB) as devils, pigs or wolves and Lenin being displayed as the biggest thief of all became common, as did images showing where the owner was from or the crime that had caused his incarceration.

After the Second World War a split emerged in the criminal world and men began creating more intricate and discreet tattoos, these became a way of displaying their skills and past achievements to their fellow convicts. A feather showed the wearer was skilled with a knife, each tower of a church or castle showed how many terms the wearer had served in the zone and X’s on the hand showed how many escape attempts he’d made.

Russian female prisoners also started to tattoo themselves, not as crudely as their male counterparts, instead they’ve gone down a more melancholic and poetic route. Swans, violins, hearts and roses all denote the wearers’ sexuality or the part love has played in her life or why she’s ended up in jail. Phrases like may my love lie on you like a tombstone and grab grief, fall in love with me became the sort of thing seen on Russian female prisoners as they pass their time as part of the world’s second biggest prison population.

Marks new book is a wonderful companion for anyone interested in underworld tattoos, Russian history, or just a bizarre, often unpleasant landscape and is an easy, enjoyable read. Thief in Law is a fine encyclopedia of Russian prison tattoos as well as a guide to the country’s prison history and culture.

Thief in Law is available in to order now on Amazon worldwide, and will be in all good book shops in the USA after September. More information on the subject is on the authors website


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