Can You Tattoo If You Can’t Draw?

If you’re a beginner tattoo artist and you don’t have natural drawing talent, learning how to draw tattoos can seem pretty overwhelming - or even impossible. 

It’s important to understand that you cannot tattoo better than you can draw, but there are a few ways you can build your drawing skills quickly.

In this article, we’ll explain:

  • How to get started practicing drawing tattoo designs (even if you’ve never done it before)
  • How to use muscle memory to improve your drawing techniques and tattooing skills.

When you’re creating a tattoo design, you're not just drawing a picture. You're making the tattoo flow with the body and you’re working with different body shapes, and certain designs work better in certain areas.

Whether you’re brand new to art or you’ve been drawing your whole life, drawing tattoos in this way comes with a learning curve because you’ve never had to consider the tattooing process while drawing before.

Here’s a few things you can do to learn how to draw tattoos: 

1

Focus on Drawing Small Flash Pieces

When you’re starting out, it’s best to practice drawing Flash. We recommend American Traditional flash, as it’s a 2D style that most new artists find helps them improve faster.

Every tattoo artist requires tattoo designs to start working. If you’re very new to art, there’s a ton of flash designs online that you can print off and practice drawing or tattooing on fake skin.

Becoming a Flash Tattoo Artist

You can become a successful tattoo artist by just tattooing flash designs, so getting a handle on these small pieces of tattoo art can allow you to work professionally in a walk-in tattoo studio.

2

Recreate Other Artists’ Designs

When you’re first learning to draw, it can take up a lot of your time to try and draw new designs off the top of your head. Instead, focus on recreating experienced tattoo artists’ designs. Doing this helps you build up the muscle memory that you need to be able to do similar drawings and tattoo them eventually. 

If you pull up flash from online and practice drawing those designs until you get comfortable with them, it’ll be much easier for you to transfer into tattooing them because you’ll have the experience to back you.

Is it Okay to Use Other Artists’ Designs?

Many tattoo artists consider it stealing to tattoo a design another artist drew. If you are practicing your drawing skills by recreating an artist’s designs without changing it at all, you don’t want to use it in a portfolio for a tattoo shop. Doing this can keep you from getting a job in the tattoo industry.  

However, there is nothing wrong with pulling inspiration from the best tattoo artists out there, and changing parts of the design to create a unique piece.

Pro Tip: 

You can draw inspiration from different art movements and include that in your tattoos to build your own unique style.

3

Practice Regularly

When it comes to building up knowledge on drawing throughout your tattooing journey, practice makes perfect. Being able to draw or being artistic is not a “born gift.” It's something that takes years - and even the rest of your life - to try to perfect.

If you are first starting out, and you feel like you’re not doing the greatest job, it’s important to remember that learning to draw is something that takes a while. You have to put in the effort and study what you're doing in order to get better, but the improvement will come as you continue to work.

Muscle Memory with Tattoo Equipment

If you can, practice drawing with a tattoo grip on your pencil. This will make it easier to transfer your drawing techniques to your tattooing techniques because you’ll be comfortable with the equipment you’ll be using. 

You can buy grips from a tattoo business that sells supplies online, like Painful Pleasures of Kingpin Tattoo Supply.

How to Get Professional Tattoo Designs Faster

Tattooing 101 Sketchbook sign

Learning to draw tattoo designs that look like they belong on the body can be really difficult, especially if you’re new to tattooing and aren’t used to drawing with the flow of the muscles. 

However, without the right fit and flow, your tattoos will look awkward and limit your earning potential as a tattoo artist. 

For most artists, learning to draw with flow takes years of trial and error…

And it can be really hard to wrap your head around when you’re just starting out. The best way to get the hang of it fast is to look at references of other artists’ work and see how they did it so you can replicate it in your own work.

As you practice drawing and tattooing those professional designs, you’ll naturally learn how to create designs that have flow.

That’s why we created the Tattooing 101 Sketch Book. 

Inside, you’ll find 74 tattoo designs drawn for you by our professional tattoo artists. You can use them to inspire your own designs - or you can stencil them up and start tattooing right away.

Instead of hoping another tattoo artist doesn’t see that you’re practicing with their designs, you can rest assured that these are 100% for you to use however you like. 

When you draw the designs inside or use as tattoo stencils, you’ll get used to creating designs with flow, which means you’ll be able to draw tattoos that always look good on the body.

If you would like to get your hands on a digital copy of 74 pro designs…

Click here to grab the Tattooing 101 Sketch Book.

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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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