Tattoo Training Courses: 10 Tips to Get Started

If you’re new to tattooing, finding a good tattoo training course can be difficult. However, without the right information and technique, it is impossible to make a living in the industry.

To help, we’ve put together a list of 10 things a training course should teach you, as well as some free training videos to help get you started. 

In this article, we’ll break down:

  • How to find a good tattoo course
  • How to draw tattoos and improve your art 
  • Basic tattooing techniques to get you started

What to Look For in a Tattoo Artist Training Course

If you want to become a professional tattoo artist, you need to not only understand how to use a tattoo machine, but you need to understand how the industry works and how you can develop your own artistry over time. 

To make sure you’re getting a complete education, you’ll want to look for knowledge in each of the following areas:

1

The Tattoo Industry

The tattoo business can be hard to break into, especially if you don’t have any experience with how tattoo shops work. You’ll need to know how to get into a tattoo shop, what it takes to be a successful tattoo artist, or how to work with clients before starting your journey.

What to Look for in a Course:

A good tattoo course will prepare you for each part of your journey from your first job to working with clients and even owning your own shop.

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2

Tattoo Equipment Overview

Tattoo equipment is expensive. You want to make sure the equipment you buy is going to work well for you, and that you have everything you need. 

What to Look for in a Course:

A training program should let you clearly know what you need, how to use the materials you buy, and explain how to set up and clean your tattoo machine correctly

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Safety is the most important part of being a tattoo artist. If you don’t protect yourself and your client against cross contamination while you’re tattooing, you could be at risk of spreading bloodborne pathogens. 

What to Look for in a Course:

This is the most important thing to look for in a tattoo course. It’s a major red flag if there isn’t any information about how to set up and tear down a station safely. 

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Note:

An online course or training program can’t provide you with the bloodborne pathogens certification you need to become a tattoo artist. You will need to go through a BBP training program approved by your local health department.

4

Tattoo Design

The first part of the tattoo process is drawing tattoo designs. However, creating a tattoo design is more than just drawing a nice picture. You need to understand how to draw designs for the body.

What to Look for in a Course:

This is the piece most tattoo artist training programs skip. But without this knowledge, it is impossible to make designs that look like they belong on a person’s skin. If you want to learn tattooing, you have to also learn tattoo design.

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Note:

New artists that aren’t coming in with a ton of drawing skills find this piece pretty intimidating. If you need a few good tips to start drawing tattoos faster, check out our artists’ advice on picking an “easy” beginner style.

5

Tattoo Workshop

To become a professional tattoo artist, you have to practice. Luckily, all tattoos - from an old-school Traditional design to a realistic portrait - can be broken down into three skills: lining, shading, and packing. 

What to Look for in a Course:

Any tattoo program should help you learn basic techniques by breaking them down step-by-step. You should be able to follow along and start tattooing fake skin

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6

Feedback From Tattoo Artists

There’s a lot of little details to tattooing, and only a professional tattoo artist that’s been in the industry for a while will be able to spot tiny mistakes in your technique. 

What to Look for in a Course:

A lot of tattoo programs are created by tattoo artists, but don’t have a way for you to request feedback from professionals. You should always look for programs that include an active community where you can talk to other students and get personalized help from artists.

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7

Building Out a Portfolio

Your portfolio is your resume in the tattoo industry. You need to show your art skills and that you understand tattoo design in just a few pages. 

What to Look for in a Course:

A tattoo course should have a full lesson just on how to make a portfolio. Ideally, you’ll also be able to get feedback on your portfolio before you take it into a shop so that you know you’re walking in with top-notch work.

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8

Starting your own Tattoo Business 

For a lot of tattoo artists, opening up their own shop is a major goal for their careers. However, there are a lot of logistics when it comes to opening a tattoo shop - including business and marketing knowledge.

What to Look for in a Course:

Whether you’re just managing your own career through social media or plan to start your own shop, you want a training program to market your work, how to retain customers, and how to keep your finances organized as a full-time tattoo artist. 

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Start Learning With Tattooing 101’s Online Training Program 

Having a career in tattooing is not only fulfilling, but it’s also the most stable way to make a living as an artist. However, for decades, the process to become a tattoo artist has been notoriously difficult. 

The apprenticeship process requires aspiring tattoo artists to work 50-60 hours a week without pay for 2-4 years. That, combined with the toxic culture of abusing apprentices, makes getting into the industry almost impossible for newcomers. 

That’s why we created the Artist Accelerator Program. Our online course provides a simple, structured way of learning to tattoo that has been proven to work by over 2500 successful students, with many of them having gone on to open their own shops all around the world. 

Inside the program, we’ll take you through every step of the tattooing process in 9 clear, easy-to-follow modules and support you along the way within the Tattooing 101 Mastermind online community.

In the Mastermind group, you’ll collaborate with other students, get answers to your questions, and receive personalized video feedback on your artwork and tattoos from professional tattoo artists. With this friendly community of both new and experienced tattoo artists, you’ll never be stuck again. 

When you join the Artist Accelerator Program, you’ll have instant access to the full course and the Mastermind community, as well as our 30-Day Flash Challenge and recorded interviews with tattoo artists from all over the world. 

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
AUTHOR
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain. When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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