Top 6 Mistakes Tattoo Artists Make

No one likes to think about making mistakes - especially when it comes to tattooing. But we are human, and when you’re first starting out, you’ll make mistakes.

However, you can avoid a lot of the biggest mistakes that tattoo artists make if you know what actions to take.

To help, we’ll be breaking down the mistakes we see most often in the industry, and how you can make sure they don’t happen to you. We’ll discuss:

  • Do’s and don’ts of social media as a tattoo artist
  • How to avoid tattoo artist “dead ends”
  • Tattoo machine mistakes

Mistake 1: Relying on Word of Mouth

This is a mistake that both new and veteran tattoo artists make: relying on word of mouth. 

This means that they rely solely on people coming in as walk-ins to get clients. They don't spend time marketing themselves on social media or trying to grow online. 

With social media nowadays, your online presence can make or break your career as a tattooer.  

You can get more clients faster if you find them online than you can by just waiting for someone to walk in because they’ve heard about you from another client.

This doesn’t mean the word of mouth isn't important - it is. If you tattoo someone and they go tell their friends, you're going to get more clients from that. 

However, if you want to grow crazy fast in this industry, being online is the way to do that. Being visible on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc. will help you out a ton within your career.

Mistake 2: Combining Personal and Professional Social Media

When it comes to the social media platforms you are using, you make sure your platform is set up for your tattooing.

This means that your social media profile is business-oriented and mainly focuses on pictures of your tattoos. This will quickly show people all the different styles of tattoos that you’re doing, which will help you attract more clients.

If you mix your personal posts with your tattoos, it will distract from your art and clients won’t want to scroll through your profile looking for your work.

Note:

Some tattoo artists will have two separate Instagram, Facebook, etc. accounts. This lets them have one account focused on their work and another account for personal posts with family and friends.

Mistake 3: Not Wanting to Learn More

Image from Tattooing 101’s 10-Day Seminar Program

A lot of tattoo artists think they know everything they need to tattoo for the rest of their lives. Because of this, they don’t want to grow and learn more. 

The reality is that artists always have the opportunity to grow. 

Of course, when you’re first starting out, you need to practice drawing and tattooing to get to a place where you’re comfortable. But being comfortable doesn’t mean you’ve reached your full potential. If you aren’t continually trying to get better, you can hit a dead end and get left behind in the industry. This is why it’s so important to continue improving and trying new styles.  

Mistake 4. Staying in a Dead End Shop

Unfortunately, in this industry you’ll see studios taking advantage of their artists on a regular basis. 

For example, if you’re an artist on a 50/50 split who has been in the shop for years, you have constant clientele from your own marketing on Instagram, and you’ve built your skills…then you might want a higher percentage split. Most artists will aim for 60/40 or 70/30, depending on your area and experience.

However, the shop owner will often try to work around that by saying you have to reach a certain number of clients or amount of money in order to get bumped up. However, they either don’t make good on their promise despite your extra work, or they give an impossible goal so they don’t have to give up any of their percentage.

This is how a lot of artists get trapped with a low percentage for years. 

If you're stuck in this predicament, you need to look for other options in order to grow your career. If you're spending money on all of your own supplies and getting your own clients, the shop isn't really doing anything for you besides just letting you tattoo there. 

Just the feeling of getting into a tattoo studio is important when you’re first starting out. But if you've been there for a couple of years and they're not buying supplies or marketing for you, then it's time to reevaluate the situation. 

Mistake 5. Misspelling a Word

Almost every tattoo artist has heard a story about a client being angry because their artist misspelled a word. 

This is why it is so important to not only check the spelling yourself multiple times, but to make sure the client checks the spelling too. It’s recommended to have them check the spelling when they give the word(s) to you, once you’ve designed it, and once the stencil has been applied. 

Note:

No customer is going to say that they made a mistake. Customers will blame you as the artist, even if you used the exact spelling you gave them. Especially if it’s early in your career, you might want to offer covering up the tattoo - even if the mistake wasn’t your fault. This will help protect your reputation.

Pro Tip:

If you don’t know the language you’re tattooing, it will be very hard for you to know if you have the right spelling. At this point, you’re relying entirely on the customer to have the spelling right. Keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to take on a tattoo.

Mistake 6. Buying New, Expensive Machines Every Year

The supplies you use make a big difference in your tattooing. If you’re using super cheap machines that don’t run correctly, that will show up in your tattooing.

However, this doesn’t mean you need to buy the most expensive tattoo machine out there. Sometimes, the reason the price is so high is just because of the brand name. A lot of cheaper machines use the same motors as the most expensive brands. 

A middle-grade machine that works correctly for how you tattoo is all you need to create great work. If you find a machine that works well for you, there isn’t a need to switch things up just because a new, flashy machine has hit the market.

This does not mean that you can’t try other brands and machines. However, you don’t need to use all your money to buy new machines when that money could be spent on experiences that will make you a better tattoo artist. (For example, attending or watching a seminar on a style of tattooing you want to learn.)

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

examples of students own tattoo

Knowing which mistakes to avoid in your future career is important, 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?

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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