Can You Be AA Self Taught Tattoo Artist
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Can you be a self taught Tattoo Artist or do you really need an apprenticeship? 7 questions to ask

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Can you be a self taught Tattoo Artist or do you really need an apprenticeship?

Can you be a Self Taught Tattoo Artist? You CAN become a Self Taught Tattooist but it’s an EXTREMELY HARD route to go down. Getting an apprenticeship is the best way to learn to Tattoo but it may not be possible for you for many reasons. This post covers some serious things you need to consider if you are thinking of going down the self-taught route to becoming a Tattooist.

can you learn to tattoo on your own?

Ask the question “Can you become a self taught tattoo artist?” on any tattoo forum and you will be immediately shot down in flames and called an evil scratcher.

No one wants to address this question and the standard answer is a blunt “NO. Get an apprenticeship” but it isn’t quite that straightforward…

Let’s look at the question from all angles.

You might also want to check out this detailed post How to Become A Tattoo Artist 

How Did You Learn or are Learning To Tattoo?

Self Taught {using free resources online}17651.1%
Apprenticeship in a Tattoo Shop12436.0%
Self Taught using an paid online course236.7%
Self taught with assistance from professional artists/mentors164.7%
Paid tattoo training from different tattoo artists41.2%
Oregon tattoo school (mandatory for license)10.3%
How did you learn or are learning to tattoo survey

An apprenticeship IS the best way but…

Getting an apprenticeship is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.

This site equips you with the best information I can give you to help you find and secure that apprenticeship.

An apprenticeship is by far the best way to learn to tattoo. You will be shown how to do things the right way, safely. It will save you years of stumbling around trying to work it out for yourself. You also need the support and mentorship an apprenticeship brings in order to survive the steep learning curve that tattooing has.

However, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s an easy journey to find and land an apprenticeship.

can you be a self taught Tattoo Artist?
Can you be a self taught Tattoo Artist? Maybe, but its a hard journey…

Potential issues that can stop you getting a Tattoo Apprenticeship

The potential Tattooist can face the following difficulties when trying to find an apprenticeship.

  • Local tattooists may not want to apprentice “potential competition” and may be hostile.
  • Tattooists who offer you an apprenticeship may be sub-standard with poor hygiene practices or work. Do you want to learn the “wrong” way?
  • Personal circumstances, family or children may make it impossible to move or be available for the hours needed in a tattoo shop.
  • The need to be able to continue to make money for rent etc during an apprenticeship may make it impossible to work in a shop depending on your employment or life situation.
  • Tattooists may ask you to pay for an apprenticeship, but the costs may be too high to afford.
  • Some unscrupulous tattooists are just out to rip off potential apprentices.

And really, at the end of the day, why would a tattooist want to hand out their own hard-earned skills for free?

Many tattooists won’t apprentice people as they don’t trust the apprentice will continue to work with them but will set up their own competing studio.

You can’t blame tattooists for wanting to protect their livelihood as they had to go through the same uphill battle to gain the skills they have…

Try as hard as you can to get a Tattoo Apprenticeship.

Check out this post for some Ninja ways to help you secure one.


Make sure you exhaust all possibilities before you consider going it alone. It’s hard to do this on your own without support.

But if you just can’t land an apprenticeship. Where does that leave you?

So you have tried everything and a Tattoo Apprenticeship seems an impossibility.

Do you just go “Oh OK. I can’t find a tattoo apprenticeship – Ill just go and get a job in a Walmart etc etc”

Most people are driven to tattoo by the inner demon of the Tattoo God making it THE ONLY thing they want to do in their lives. If that’s you, you can’t just give up at the first hurdle.

If you want it badly enough you will find a way through the obstacles.

Has anyone made it as a self taught tattooist?

It IS possible to become a self taught tattooist.

In fact, many of the top tattooists are self-taught and many old-timers started off working out for themselves the techniques involved. The following amazing artists are all self-taught and these are just the ones I like. There are many more.

Can you be a self taught Tattoo Artist?
Teaching yourself to Tattoo. Extreme dedication and care required.

Is it easy to learn to tattoo on your own?

But here’s the truth. Whilst it IS possible to teach yourself how to tattoo, it is the most difficult route into tattooing you could possibly take.

It demands the most responsibility and the most work to do it and to do it right.

You can also read this post. Is Tattooing hard to learn? Can you do it?

Do you think doing an apprenticeship is tough? Think again! An apprenticeship will show you how to do things but learning yourself can take years of trial and error to get even half-decent.

That’s why tattooists frown on this route. They don’t believe most people have the dedication, stamina and intelligence to do this properly. They are right. Most people don’t, but not ALL people.

Ask yourself truthfully. Are you the exception to the rule? The people listed above who have taught themselves are all very dedicated and driven people. Do you measure up? If so, maybe you can do this.

However, trying to teach yourself to tattoo is a MASSIVE RESPONSIBILITY NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY.


At the very least you can scar them for life. Teaching yourself is NOT about buying a starter kit and “having a go” on some mates.

It is about living, breathing, eating. sleeping tattooing and researching every single facet.

You need to take an honest look at yourself and ask these 7 questions.

  1. Can I draw and design well? Honestly? Really? Not just some mate telling you that misshapen skull you scrawled on a beer mat was wicked!Check out this post if you are worried about your drawing skills.
    Do you have to know how to draw to Tattoo? 4 Tips to improve your drawing skills
  1. Do I take enough responsibility to learn about bloodborne pathogens, cross-contamination and hygienic practices inside out and back to front?
  2. Do I want to do this for the love of the art of tattooing or just because I want to make a quick buck?
  3. Do I care deeply about the quality of the art I put on a persons body and want it to be as perfect as possible?
  4. Will I put the hours and hours of practice in on practice skin and my own skin before I go anywhere near another person’s skin?
  5. Will I treat my clients with respect?
  6. Do I have the responsibility, honesty, integrity, passion, drive and professionalism to do this?

If the answers are YES, you might just be the kind of person who can be a self taught tattooist. Maybe you will be able to make it if you can keep going in the face of adversity.

If you think you have what it takes you might want to read the next post.

So how do I become a self-taught tattooist?

or this one… Can a Girl be a Tattoo Artist?

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