How to Get a Tattoo License in Arkansas

If you're looking to get a tattoo license in Arkansas, you'll need to meet certain requirements. 

In this article, we’ll break down:

  • What the requirements you must meet
  • Where to get the paperwork you need
  • Where to learn more about your county regulations
Arkansas body art by tattoo artist

Don't forget that each county in Arkansas may have its own specific regulations, so be sure to check with your local government before getting started.

Note:

Both tattooing and body piercing fall under the category of “body art,” so much of the information in this article will be for both.

How to Get Licensed in Body Piercing and Permanent Cosmetic Art

To be a tattoo artist in Arkansas, you must either be a licensed physician or hold a Body Art License. The Body Art License fee is $100, and the license exam fee is $50.

Licenses must be renewed yearly and expire each year on December 31st. Artist renewal fee is $100 per year. If not renewed by March 1, an additional $100 penalty fee is added. Renew your license here.

The Application

To apply for a Body Art License, you need to do the following:

1

Be a High School Graduate / Get Your GED

The Arkansas Board of Cosmetology requires that all applicants for a permanent cosmetic artist license must be high school graduates with a valid high school diploma or a GED.

2

Get Accepted for Supervised Body Art Work

You must complete a training program at an approved body art facility.

There are currently only a handful of facilities in the state that meet the requirements set forth by the Arkansas Department of Health.

During the training program, you’ll complete both classroom and practical instruction on topics such as sanitation, bloodborne pathogens, and emergency procedures. 

Your apprenticeship will teach you how to perform tattoo and body piercing work at certified establishments safely and effectively.

Accepted training programs are listed in the Body Art Application Packet.

3

Complete a License Application Form

The tattoo artist application should be submitted by your trainer/mentor no later than 2pm on the Tuesday prior to your written exam.

4

Complete Blood-Borne Pathogens Training

If you want to become a tattoo artist, you'll need to get blood-borne pathogens training.

During your blood-borne pathogens training, you'll learn how to properly dispose of liquid waste, how to sterilize equipment, and how to identify signs of communicable disease.

You'll also be given a health evaluation to ensure that you're physically able to tattoo. 

Accepted bloodborne pathogen training programs are listed in the Body Art Application Packet.

5

Pass a Body Art Written Exam

Exams are given on the 3rd Tuesday of each month (except December) at the Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock.

An appointment for the exam is required and must be scheduled by the artist trainer (your mentor) by calling 501-661-2606. Exams must be scheduled by 12:00 p.m. on the Friday before the exam.

Applicants must bring photo ID, $50 exam fee (exact cash, check, or money order), and proof of blood-borne pathogen training to the exam.

6

Complete a 6-24 month Artist In-Training Program

Trainer must have been a licensed artist for five years and have been working in a body art establishment licensed by the Department for at least three years.

Artist In-Training must complete 375 clock hours of supervised body art work logged by the Trainer. In your training program, you’ll learn:

  • How to communicate aftercare instructions to patients
  • Caring for and maintaining sterilization equipment and basic sanitation
  • How tattoo establishments are managed and inspected (along with what is looked for in the inspections process)
  • Proper storage of tattooing equipment and supplies
  • How to perform basic tattooing procedures

If studying other fields, the Artist In-Training must complete 250 additional hours for each field in a period of 12-24 months. (This addresses body piercing, branding, permanent cosmetics, etc.)

7

Complete a Practical Exam

Complete practical exam in field(s) of study, such as permanent cosmetic work.

Practical exams are done by the Department of Health. Someone will come and watch you tattoo a client. They’ll be looking for aseptic technique, sterilization procedures, recordkeeping, and aftercare instruction to the client.

How to Transfer a Tattoo License from Another State

If an artist wants to transfer their license from another state, they must provide:

A $500 non-refundable application fee (you will also need to pay an annual license fee when you renew your tattoo artist application - annual license fee amounts vary by county) 

Proof of licensure as an artist in their old state within the last two calendar years

Copies of their old state’s body art laws and regulations (provided by the state’s department of health)

Documentation from their old state’s regulatory agency (department of health or equivalent) concerning the shop(s) where the artist was employed. This includes proof of inspection reports of shop(s), length of time employed, and any other documentation concerning artist licensure. 

Proof that the artist attended an Artist-In-Training program (6 months or longer) OR a letter of reference from the regulatory agency (department of health) which provides information on: 

Compliance (license suspensions) history

Evaluation of knowledge of health and safety standards

Any other records of training completed as required by the agency

If the above documents are approved, the artist must then pass a written exam and a practical exam. Your trainer must schedule these exams for you by calling 601-661-2606. 

If an artist wants to transfer their license from another state, they must provide:

A $500 non-refundable application fee (you will also need to pay an annual license fee when you renew your tattoo artist application - annual license fee amounts vary by county)

Proof of licensure as an artist in their old state within the last two calendar years

Copies of their old state’s body art laws and regulations (provided by the state’s department of health)

Documentation from their old state’s regulatory agency (department of health or equivalent) concerning the shop(s) where the artist was employed. This includes proof of inspection reports of shop(s), length of time employed, and any other documentation concerning artist licensure. 

Proof that the artist attended an Artist-In-Training program (6 months or longer) OR a letter of reference from the regulatory agency (department of health) which provides information on:

Compliance (license suspensions) history

Evaluation of knowledge of health and safety standards

Any other records of training completed as required by the agency

If the above documents are approved, the artist must then pass a written exam and a practical exam. Your trainer must schedule these exams for you by calling 601-661-2606.

Additional County Regulations for Tattooing and Body Piercing

If your county has additional regulations, you can find them here.

Turn in Your Application

Mail tattoo artist license application to:
Arkansas Department of Health
Environmental Health - Body Art Program
4815 West Markham Slot #46
Little Rock, AR 72205

This application must be received 5 days before your written exam.

The photo ID, $50 fee (exact cash, check, or money order), and proof of blood-borne pathogen training should be brought with you on the day of your written exam.

After your application and other documents (BBP, exam, etc.) are approved, you will be mailed an invoice which will have instructions for how to pay your fee. Once that is paid, you will be mailed your tattoo artist license.

Things You Should Know:

In Arkansas, no body art procedure may be done on someone who is obviously under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Body art may not be done on a minor (under 18) without the written consent AND presence of their parent or legal guardian.

Arkansas also issues tattoo establishments temporary permits if they are operating mobile units or only need to complete tattoo work for a period of a few days. There are various regulations pertaining to these permits, which you can find on your county website.

Links

https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/local-health-units 
Body art industry research: Tattoo and Body Art Arkansas Department of Health
Body art license application: Body Art Application Packet 
Body Art Program Manager: margarita.escovedo@arkansas.gov 
Communicable diseases course by state: https://courseforbbp.com/states 
Disease prevention Hepatitis B vaccination info: https://www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/services/hepatitis-b

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

examples of students own tattoo

Learning the steps you need to take to get licensed is an important step in your journey, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist. 

However, finding the straight-forward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need to build your skills and create incredible tattoos. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to start tattooing full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

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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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