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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

How to be a Tattoo Artist

Many young people grow up with a passion for drawing and art that often gets turned away after high school. Sometimes though, these individuals take the path of becoming professional artists, either graphic designers, painters, or even the romantic life of a comic book artist. Another venue for this type of creativity is becoming a tattoo artist. However, moving into this industry isn't more complicated than many other career paths, as it's typically not something one just gets a degree in and then "gets a job".

It usually means a tattoo artist to be must take the initiative to learn all they can, however they can. This ideally means working their way into a shop as an intern or apprentice, getting a first hand taste of what tattooing is all about. However, there are far more people who want that type of job than their are jobs available. What to do?

Often, left with no other choice, many decide to go at it alone, and buy some tattooing equipment, instructional DVD's, and hopefully some fake skin to practice on (or some brave friends.) In this article, let's take a look at what those "must have" basic tattoo supplies would be that a person would need to get things started. This will be a basic overview without any fluff or extra items.

1. A Tattoo Machine.

how to be a tattoo artist + tattoo machine
A Basic Tattoo Machine

This is the primary instrument of tattooing. It's best to refer to it as a tattoo machine and not a tattoo gun - professions kind of scorn the term 'gun' as trite. In any event, this gun-like device is what most everyone is familiar with when it comes to tattooing. Learning how to handle, clean, and properly load a tattoo gun is something you'd want to learn.

2. Tattoo Inks.

how to be a tattoo artist + tattoo ink
Tattoo Inks

Tattoo ink and the needles work in tandem with the machine to inject skin into the flesh. For starters needing the least amount of tattoo supplies, black of course is the most common tattoo ink colour used. If only a 2-3 other inks were to be purchased, the colours to pick would likely be: red, green, and blue, but the more colours you can get the better!

3. Tattooing Needles.

how to be a tattoo artist + tattoo needles
Tattoo Needles

The tattoo needles are instrumental in performing the job - without them, there'd be no way to get the ink into the skin. Tattoo machines work with two different types of needles, known as shader and liner needles. Shader needles make it easier to colour wider or larger areas, whereas liner needles are used to perform detailed work and outlining work.

4. A Power Supply.

how to be a tattoo artist + tattoo power supply
Tattooist Power Supply

A tattoo machine is not battery operated! A good power supply needs to be hooked up to the unit for it to function. If affordable, seek out a power supply that offers control from a pedal switch that can be operated by stepping on them with your feet. This leaves the artists hands free to focus and guide the actual tattoo work being done without needing to be concerned about supplying power to their unit.

There are other tattoo supplies of interest, such as ink caps, gloves, and other smaller items, but the 4 aforementioned supplies will get you started. The only supply left that's relevant to mention is the use of fake skin to practice on. It sounds gross, but it's something you'd definitely want to use before trying to tattoo anyone's actual skin, including your own. At the same time, it goes without saying that some kind of instructional or educational DVD's or books would also be a great idea to use in combination with these beginner tattoo supplies.
As mentioned earlier, the items listed above are what you would need as a basic requirement to get started as a tattooist, in future articles I will look at "How to be a Tattooist" from a more advanced stand point.



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