Tattoo artists use indelible ink to permanently change the pigment of the outer layer of a customer’s skin. People get tattoos as a form of creative expression, choosing tattoos that have interesting designs and images that hold symbolic value. Some tattoo artists simply want to play a role in helping people adorn their bodies with ink.
Tattoo artists seek to create artwork on customer’s bodies, appealing to those who are artistic. Some tattoo artists have natural talent and enjoy using their talents to make a living. Others enjoy the process of perfecting their skills in design. Tattoo artists create a portfolio they can show their future employers. This gives tattoo artists opportunities to see how their creative abilities develop from piece to piece, giving them confidence in their abilities. To avoid making mistakes, tattoo artists can practice on many things, including fruit, animal skins and practice skins.
Tattooing is a job that cannot be outsourced. The tattoo artist must be present when performing her work, creating job security. In contrast, businesses can manufacture the ink the tattoo artist uses outside the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the need for artists to grow by 12 percent between 2008 and 2018. In addition, the tattoo industry is becoming more popular. According to 2011 Pew Research Center data, 36 percent of those in the 18- to 25-year-old bracket have a tattoo.
Aspiring tattoo artists can learn their trade from other tattoo artists through apprenticeship, simply by asking a tattoo artist at the parlor they frequent to take them on as an apprentice. Even if the tattoo shop does not have any apprenticeship opportunities, they often point aspiring artists to other professionals willing to take on an apprentice. Some tattoo parlors will take on apprentices as employees after they finish training them, especially if the person demonstrates that he can add value to the tattoo parlor by creating tattoos that customers love.
The basics of tattooing are similar to the basics of drawing, painting and illustration. In fact, some tattoo artists go to art school before they become artists. For those already interested in art and creative design, learning the artistic side of tattooing may be more intuitive. Already practicing artists will just be continuing their practice, only through a different medium. The skills are transferable to other types of design, allowing tattoo artists to take different approaches in their career.
The tattoo industry is built on respect. Tattoo artists are expected to show respect for other tattoo artists and for the tattooing tradition. Those who become highly skilled at tattooing and show others respect will begin to receive respect themselves.