Tattoo Artist Tips

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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 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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Tattoo Artist Tips, Tattoo Instruction

5 Traits of a Successful Tattoo Artist

Tattoo ArtistThe world of tattooing is a competitive one, and in order to be successful, you need to have passion and be willing to work hard.

There are a number of skills that you need to learn, from the basic operation of a tattoo machine, to art and design skills, to understanding the business end of things.

However, there are some traits that will be necessary to turn your love of tattooing into a full time career…

Tattoo Trait #1:  Artistic Ability

Whether or not artistic talent can be taught has been debated for a long time.  There’s no doubt however that certain skills and techniques can be learned in order to improve whatever abilities you already have.

Those who are most likely to succeed in tattooing are the people who love art, and view tattooing as their medium.  Just as some people choose oil and canvas to paint, the tattoo artist chooses ink and skin.  The client’s main concern is going to be what the final tattoo looks like, and those with artistic ability have a better likelihood of having a visually pleasing finished product. (As long as the artist is also comfortable and and has the technical ability to use the tools of the trade to translate the image into a tattoo.)

Tattoo Trait #2:  Attention to Detail

Attention to detail might not seem like the most exciting trait needed to become a successful tattoo artist, but it is one of the most important.  Tattooing is very exacting work.  You must listen carefully to clients’ ideas in order to turn them into pieces of art that fit their desires.  The tattoo machine is made of many tiny parts that have to be used and maintained regularly.

Tattooing also requires a thorough knowledge of safety procedures and strict adherence to laws and regulations put in place to keep both artists and customers safe. Remember, “how you do anything is how you do everything”, so never settle for good enough in any area of your life, and you’ll see your tattoos consistently improving.

Tattoo Trait #3:  Curiosity

The tattoo industry changes all the time.  New tools and techniques are developed that advance both the art and science of tattooing.  Trends change as well, with styles going in and out of fashion.  Keeping up with these changes and advances makes for a better prepared, and more successful, tattoo artist.  Fortunately, there are lots of trade magazines that you can read to keep up on what’s happening in the industry, and trade shows and conventions are not only educational, but also a lot of fun.  Someone with innate curiosity will have fun staying informed and continue to become a better and better artist. Following sites such as this one, signing up for our educational newsletter, and reading this far into a post about tattooing already proves you’re the type of person who is curious and diligent enough to do well in this industry.

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Tattoo Trait #4:  Work Ethic

Tattoo artists work very hard.  While there may be a   perception that their days don’t start until noon and their nights are full of parties, this is not a true representation of how hard tattoo artists really do work.  The truth is that they often work late into the evening, they must find their own clients, and they have to continue to develop new skills and keep up with the industry. Tattooing really does “take over your life.” To get ahead in tattooing you’ll often need to take you work home with you. Fortunately for us, our “work” is painting and drawing, which is fun, and why we love it!

However that’s AFTER they become professionals.  The path to becoming a tattoo artist is full of challenges and hard work.  From learning how to hold the tattoo machine to becoming skilled at different styles of shading, every step of the process takes practice, practice, practice!  Add to that the likelihood that you’ll be doing a lot of the “grunt” work during your apprenticeship, and you can see why having a strong work ethic is an important trait for someone who wants to become a tattoo artist.

Don’t let this discourage you. I wouldn’t trade the ability to travel the world, set your own hours, and make a career doing something I love for anything. The “juice is definitely worth the squeeze.”

Tattoo Trait #5:  Adaptability

Clients will have different ideas about what they want, where they want it, and everything else regarding their tattoos. Some may change their minds many times during the consultation, and even occasionally not show up for an appointment. While you will be the professional who will guide them through what will look the best on their skin, you will still need to be flexible enough to give them the experience they’re looking for with an outcome that reflects well on you.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, I hope it gives you a bit of insight into the traits you’ll need to have outside of the technical aspects of the craft. If you found value in this post please share it with a friend. If you’d like to learn about something not listed in the blog, don’t hesitate to drop me a line here, and finally, if you’d like to stay updated on current events in tattooing and how to become a licensed professional you can sign up for our newsletter here.

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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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