How To Become a Tattoo Artist In 13 Easy Steps

Learning how to become a tattoo artist can be intimidating by itself, but the true challenge here is learning...

Tattooing For Beginners: 9 Simple Steps

All of us that are passionate about tattooing for beginners want to know how to tattoo fast and easy....

The 4 Secrets to a Successful Tattoo Business

For many tattoo artists, owning a shop is a dream come true.  But, owning a business is about more...
Tattoo Instruction
How To Become a Tattoo Artist In 13 Easy Steps
Tattoo Instruction
Tattooing For Beginners: 9 Simple Steps
Tattoo Business
The 4 Secrets to a Successful Tattoo Business

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About Tattooing101.com…

Tattooing101.com is simply about the art and process of tattooing…

This includes not only the process of tattooing, but also about what it takes to become a tattoo artist the right and safe way. Before anyone can become a tattoo artist, a good understanding and background knowledge of the process, the equipment and safety procedure is vital. On this website, we will cover various aspects on the subject of tattooing from techniques, to equipment, to tattoo flash, even aspects such as getting your license and paying taxes as an artist, it's all here.

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At Bulldog Tattoo Supply we strive to bring you the best products, while staying within your budget.

Tattoo Flash

The Art of Tattoo Flash:  How It Is Created and Applied in Today’s Industry

Tattoo FlashTattoo flash is a staple of the industry.  When you imagine yourself in a tattoo shop, you likely envision all kinds of tattoo designs hanging on the walls of the waiting area.  This art is called “flash.”  Flash has a couple of different purpose in addition to decorating the shop.

As with most of tattooing, the term tattoo “flash” comes from the colorful history of tattooing. In the early days tattooing wasn’t necessarily “legal”, and many artists found work by traveling around to different venues. This included barbershops, carnivals, and most frequently, bars.

As you can imagine, a bunch of people drinking and getting rowdy isn’t the best environment to be tattooing in, but you get in where you fit in. So an artist would set up shop in the back of a bar, and hang his design sheets up on the wall. He would keep his suitcase open, which contained all of his tattoo supplies. If the patrons of the bar started getting too rowdy, or if the police came in to bust the flash up, all the artist would have to do was yank his design sheets down, throw everything into his suitcase, and he was gone… “in a flash.” I love that we still hang on to some of these term, such as “tattoo flash.”

Nowadays, flash offers ready-to-go designs for customers who are down to just pick something off the walls (or within binders) that they like.  Tattooist simply use the flash design, create a quick outline (if they didn’t have one already), and can have the customer in and out fairly quickly.

This was the typical use for flash until fairly recently.  Nowadays, flash is used more as a reference point.  Customers look at a shop’s flash to get ideas and then customize them for their own designs.  Often, a client will come through the door with a good idea of what he or she wants.  Looking through flash designs can provide an idea of style, size, and coloring for what they’re envisioning, but an artist is generally expected to be able to create a custom design for each client, either based on this flash, or another reference the client brings in.

The old-school method of creating flash is to draw it by hand…

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Tattoo Instruction

The Different Styles and Techniques of Tattooing

tattoo artist smilingLearning how to become a tattoo artist means learning a lot of different styles and techniques.  While it’s tempting to want to jump in with both feet to try a little of everything at once, tattooing is like any other art form. You need to learn basic skills and them build on them as your abilities and confidence grow.

As you work through your apprenticeship, you will develop skills in all of these areas, not to mention learning about all kinds of fascinating techniques that others are using to make their art stand out and to make their customers happy.

There are great techniques out there for adding light an luminosity to your pieces, or for adding texture that looks realistic, for example.

But first, the aspiring tattoo artist will want to learn the basics:

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Tattoo Instruction

The 6 Key Elements for Creating a Perfect Tattoo

Tattoo ArtistWhen it comes to tattoos, everyone is hoping for the perfect execution.  The client wants a beautiful piece of work that will last a lifetime.  The artist wants the skill and talent to show through.

In order to get create the perfect tattoo, take keep these six steps in mind…

#1: Really Listen to the Client

Whether he or she is looking for a reproduction of a piece of flash or wants something completely original, it is important to hear what is being said.  Getting the design to fit the customer’s vision while representing you as an artist takes some serious skill, but in doing so, you are already on the road to the best possible tattoo.  There’s a reason that tattoo artists spend so much time practicing their drawing and shading skills.  By putting the design on paper first, you can ensure that everyone has the same vision in mind.

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Tattoo Business

The 4 Secrets to a Successful Tattoo Business

Tattoo BusinessFor many tattoo artists, owning a shop is a dream come true.  But, owning a business is about more than simply finding an empty building and moving in.

The successful shop owner has to wear a lot of hats to keep everything running smoothly.

Here are five secrets to use in setting up a successful tattoo shop…

Secret #1 – Location Really Is Everything

You often hear people talk about how the three most important aspects of real estate are location, location, and location.  While that may be a bit simplistic, it is still fairly accurate.  Choosing the location for a tattoo shop can absolutely make or break the business.  There are a few guidelines to keep in mind when choosing your location.  For one, you want to consider your clientele and make yourself available in areas where they frequently are.  High foot traffic, easy parking and access, as well as neighboring complementary businesses such as bars and nightclubs are key things to keep in mind when looking at locations. No matter where you’re setting up though, you want to know that the area can handle another tattoo shop.  Being the best at what you do will certainly help, but if there are just too many shops in a small area, all of the tattoo shops will suffer, with the newer ones potentially going under first. Remember, it isn’t just a matter of “build it and they will come.”

Secret #2 – Write a Business Plan

If you’re looking for outside funding (say, from a bank), then a business plan may be a necessity.  Even if it isn’t required though, any new business owner should consider creating one before opening the doors.  Creating a business plan forces you to consider aspects of the business that may have never occurred to you otherwise, and being prepared for them puts you at an incredible advantage down the road.  While there are fewer surprises for sure, the process also allows you to envision where you want the business to go and to create a sort of road map for how to get there.  Once the business plan is written, you can use it to guide your decision-making process, keeping in mind that it’s not written in stone and you can revise and alter it when appropriate.

Secret #3 – Treat Your Business Like a Business

Face it, one of the best reasons to start a business is so that you can do things the way you want and so you can enjoy the experience.  One way to do this is by surrounding yourself with people you like.  This is great and can create an awesome atmosphere in the shop.  On the other hand, it can be a business owner’s downfall.  Working with your friends is great, but having your friends slack off while you pay the bills is not so cool.  Be sure that everyone is aware of the policies of the shop and that when you bring in artists and other staff members they know that they are not above following the rules.  More than one friendship has been  torn apart by a business relationship, so rather than risking both, it makes sense to have contracts in place and expect everyone to abide by them.

Secret #4 – You Can’t (Shouldn’t) Do It All

A business owner is kind of like a juggler with dozens of balls in the air at a time.  There’s payroll to make and rent to pay and distributors to meet with and health inspections to pass.  Oh, and working with customers and actually doing some art, too.  How can one person do it all?  The answer is that one person probably shouldn’t do it all.  There will be areas in which the business owner really excels.  On the other hand, there are areas that really should have professional attention.  For example, the contracts mentioned above should really be created by a transactional lawyer.  It’s very likely worthwhile to hire a part-time bookkeeper rather than to try and do all the accounting yourself.  You may also want to work with a marketing company to develop a strategy for bringing in customers and keeping your artists busy.  The best approach is to determine which things you’re good at, as well as which things you enjoy, and then bring in the “big guns” for the other tasks.

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Tattoo History

A Brief History of Tattooing

Tattoo History

Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

Tattooing is an art form that has existed for thousands of years in cultures around the globe.  It’s likely that different groups of people independently discovered the ability to make permanent marks upon the skin, and many chose to incorporate this into their own cultures.  Still others were likely introduced to the concept of tattooing when they visited new lands or were host to travelers themselves.

The acceptance of tattoos has also been fairly dependent upon cultures.  In many Western countries, tattoos were considered to be low-class, while other cultures viewed them as signs of status.  The background of why different groups view tattoos differently is a complex one that is informed by religion, history, and the use of the tattoos themselves.

Prehistoric Tattoos

Obviously, there are no written records of the practices of pre-historic humans.  After all, that’s why it’s “pre-historic.”  So, we don’t really know what went on as far as tattooing during this time.  We do get a little glimpse into pre-history, however, with the discovery of a five-thousand-year-old frozen human.  Scientists refer to him as “Ozti the Iceman”, and his body was discovered frozen in the Alps.;  Ozti was covered in tattoos!

There is evidence that tattooing may be even older than this man from the Bronze Age, though.  There are some clay statues in Japan that are thought to be about ten thousand years old.  These figures are of humans, and the marks on their bodies seem to indicate that at least some people from that time wore tattoos.

Really, Really Old Tattoos

Without necessarily drawing the line between “history” and “prehistory,” there are other examples of really, really old cultures that incorporated tattooing.  Bodies of Siberians from nearly 2,500 years ago have been found with tattoos depicting animals.  Remains from North America have also been found that show tattoos from approximately 1,500 years ago.

Even older tattoos can be found when one looks at mummies from both Egypt and South America.  Female mummies from Egypt have been found with tattoos on the thighs and stomach, leading archaeologists to theorize they were fertility symbols.  South American mummies dating back 3,000 years have been found with animals depicted in their skin.

Tattoos for Punishment, Possession, and Prisoners

Perhaps part of the reason that such a stigma was placed upon tattoos is the fact that they were often used as a form of punishment in various cultures.  (Interestingly, the Latin word for tattoo was “stigma.”)  Tattoos were commonly used to mark slaves, a practice that stretches back into Greek and Roman times, and were also used to punish criminals.  Those caught stealing, for example, might be forcibly tattooed so that others would be able to identify them as thieves.

The practice of tattooing for these purposes became less commonly practiced in the Western world with a decree from the Roman Emperor Constantine when he adopted Christianity as the official religion of his empire.  More than 450 years later, Pope Hadrian I prohibited any tattooing at all.

A more modern example of the use of tattoos that has further added stigma is their complex history with prisoners of all types.  Particularly disturbing is the image of Holocaust prisoners who were tattooed with identification numbers on their wrists.  Not all prisoners come by their tattoos by force, however.  “Jailhouse” tattoos are quite common, with varying levels of quality.  There’s a whole cultural aspect to tattoos within the prison system, with different designs representing crimes and punishments.

Growing Acceptance in the US

In large part due to the prevalence of Christianity in the US, tattooing was not looked upon favorably for a very long time.  There were people who broke with tradition and got ink anyway, and many of them were soldiers and sailors who chose tattoos as permanent reminders of those back home, as well as of their experiences in the armed services.  Rather surprisingly, Christian symbols (along with patriotic images) were particularly popular.

It wasn’t until the 1890s, however, that a more accessible method of tattooing (the tattoo machine) was created.  It suddenly became much easier and desirable to get ink.  Tattooing still had a long way to go before it gained more acceptance, and for a long time it was still viewed as low-class, with connections to gang and prison life.

That is not the case today, however.  Everyone from soccer moms to celebrities now sport tattoos.  One estimate says that almost 40% of Americans under forty have a tattoo.  This is great news for the aspiring tattoo artist and goes to show how the acceptance of this art form has grown incredibly in the last few decades.

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