How to become a tattoo artist

Becoming a tattoo artist in the UK can be a fascinating and rewarding career choice. It is the perfect job for those with a passion for art and a desire to create meaningful, lasting works of body art. What makes tattooing particularly interesting is the opportunity to interact with a diverse range of clients, each with their own artistic visions.

Tattoo artists play a special role in their clients’ lives, helping them express who they are. They also get to be creative by trying out new things in their work. Not only is tattooing a captivating artistic endeavour, but it can also be a lucrative career choice. Talented and experienced artists have the potential to earn a significant income.

As the demand for tattoos continues to rise in the UK, skilled artists who provide high-quality work often find themselves in high demand. So, if you are passionate about body art and willing to work hard, being a tattoo artist in the UK can be a fun and financially rewarding profession.

Average Salary

Average Salary



Qualification Level


Weekly Hours

Weekly Hours

30 to 40 hours

What are some of the main things that tattoo artists do?

Tattoo artists are creative professionals who bring body art to life. They use their skills and imagination to create intricate designs on clients’ skin. Their work goes beyond just inking. It is more about personal expression, commemorating milestones and telling stories through the medium of tattoos.

If you choose to become a tattoo artist in the UK, these are some of the main things you will be doing:

  • Meet with clients to discuss their tattoo ideas and provide advice on design, size, placement and colour options.
  • Use artistic talents to draw and customise tattoo designs based on the client’s preferences.
  • Work with clients to ensure the design fits their vision.
  • Maintain a clean and sterilised workplace to prevent infections and ensure client safety during the tattooing process.
  • Use tattoo machines to carefully and skilfully apply the chosen design onto the clients’ skin.
  • Maintain hygiene standards at all times.
  • Keep the client informed and comfortable throughout the tattooing process.
  • Offer guidance on aftercare and address any concerns they may have.
  • Maintain records of client designs, consent forms and any relevant health information.
  • Stay updated with industry trends, techniques and equipment to remain competitive in the field.
  • Manage appointments, promote services and build a loyal client base through word of mouth and social media.

What qualifications do I need to become a tattoo artist?

Learning how to become a tattoo artist in the UK is an exciting journey that blends artistry, commitment and responsibility. If you want to begin a career as a tattoo artist, you don’t need a formal college degree. However, you do need specific skills and qualities. You must also have a good understanding of the health and safety rules. In addition, you must be professional.

These are some of the steps to become a tattoo artist in the UK:

Tattoo apprenticeship

Many successful tattoo artists begin their careers as apprentices under the guidance of experienced mentors. Tattoo apprenticeships provide hands-on experience in a real tattoo studio and the opportunity to learn the practical aspects of tattooing. However, finding a reputable mentor is crucial for gaining valuable insights into the industry.

To get started, you can work in a tattoo parlour or studio as an assistant. Your first step would involve finding a licensed tattoo artist willing to train you. Through hands-on experience working with them, you will gain the expertise, knowledge and skills needed to work as a tattoo artist.

Take up a training course

You can also consider enrolling in a structured training course designed to provide aspiring artists with a solid foundation in tattooing. These courses typically cover various essential topics such as artistic design, tattoo machine handling, hygiene and safety procedures and client communication.

While each course may vary, it will equip you with the technical skills and knowledge needed to create safe and professionally executed tattoos. Courses offered by a tattoo school may also include hands-on training, allowing students to practice their skills under the guidance of experienced instructors.

A training course can be an efficient way to kickstart a career in tattooing. It provides a comprehensive education that complements the artist’s natural talent and creativity.

What skills are needed to become a successful tattoo artist in the UK?

To be successful in this field, you will need a combination of skills. Beyond artistic talent, tattoo artists must be able to master the technical aspects of the craft. The skills of a reputable tattoo artist are the building blocks that enable them to create exceptional body art and foster lasting relationships with their clients.

Here are some of the skills you need to become a successful tattoo artist in the UK:

  • Proficiency in drawing and design for creating compelling and aesthetically pleasing tattoos.
  • The ability to operate tattoo machines, needles and ink to execute precise and clean designs.
  • The ability to implement strict health and safety protocols to safeguard the artist and the client.
  • Excellent knowledge of hygiene and safety.
  • Excellent communication skills for effective client interaction.
  • The ability to pay attention to detail.
  • The ability to be adaptable and work with a diverse range of clients, each with unique design preferences.
  • Have a high level of creativity.
  • The ability to understand and manage clients’ discomfort during the tattooing process.
  • The ability to manage appointments and records efficiently.
  • The ability to keep up with the evolving industry trends, techniques and equipment to stay competitive.
  • Having patience, since tattooing can be a time-consuming process.

How much does a tattoo artist make in the tattoo industry?

It is important to note that the income can vary widely from one artist to another. How much a tattoo artist earns depends on various factors, including their level of experience, location of the studio and the size of their client base.

Generally, tattoo artists are not salaried employees. They earn income through fees for their tattoo services. Entry-level artists earn lower incomes. Their earnings come from a combination of a modest hourly salary or a percentage of the fees for the tattoos they create under the guidance of experienced artists.

As artists gain experience and build their client base, their income tends to increase. Their hourly rate depends on their experience and skills. The geographical location of their studio can significantly impact their income. In major cities, where demand for tattoos is generally higher, artists can typically charge higher fees. On the other hand, those working in smaller towns and rural areas tend to earn less.

Specialised tattoo artists are in high demand and may charge premium prices for their expertise. Tattoo artists who own studios make money from their tattoo services and from renting chairs to other artists.

Possible career progression of a tattoo artist in the UK

The career progression of an artist working in the tattoo industry is often marked by a journey of self-improvement, artistic evolution and increasing recognition. Most aspiring tattoo artists start as apprentices, working under the guidance of experienced mentors. During this period, they learn the art of tattooing, develop their skills and build a portfolio. As they gain proficiency, they begin to tattoo clients under supervision.

As tattoo artists gain experience, they often develop their unique style and niche. They build a loyal client base and leverage social media to attract new clients. Their experience and expertise allows them to become self-employed, and many of them often choose to rent a chair in a tattoo shop.

Some experienced tattoo artists choose to open their own tattoo studios. This gives them full creative control and allows them to set their prices and potentially hire other artists.

Many seasoned and professional tattoo artists take on apprenticeships themselves. They pass down their knowledge and expertise to aspiring artists. Many tattoo artists also choose to specialise in specific tattoo styles or techniques. These include realism, black and grey or watercolour.

For exceptionally skilled and innovative artists, recognition on a broader scale can be achieved through participation in national and international tattoo competitions. This recognition can lead to collaborations, sponsorships and global exposure.

Working hours of a tattoo artist in the UK

Tattoo artists often work irregular schedules that may include evenings and weekends. Their working hours can be quite variable and often depend on the individual artist’s preferences and the demands of their clients. They can work 30-40 hours per week or 5-8 hours per day, depending on the number of appointments they have and the complexity of the tattoos. Sometimes, they work fewer or extended hours.

Some artists work part-time, while others work full-time. While their hours can be flexible, they need to manage their schedules to accommodate their clients efficiently.

What kind of environment does a tattoo artist work in?

Tattoo artists work in creative studios. These studios are cosy and pleasant places where artists and clients come together. Cleanliness and hygiene are paramount, with a strong emphasis on maintaining a sterile and safe space to prevent infections.

Tattoo artists work within designated areas equipped with professional-grade tattoo equipment. The workspace is designed to accommodate various tattoo styles and sizes, offering a combination of privacy for clients and a space for artists to focus on their craft. The atmosphere is often characterised by artistic expression and individuality. Artists have the freedom to customise their workspaces and décor to reflect their personal style.

"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life"