Learning to tattoo can be a rewarding experience but there is only one safe and acceptable way to do that and it is through an apprenticeship. There are few self taught artists who are truly regarded well in the industry and those who learn how to do tattoos at home are usually not accepted in shops or considered as dangerous to themselves and others by both public and authorities alike. If you want to learn how to do tattoos you have to go about it the right way, safely and professionally. Learning any other way is often illegal and dangerous putting both artist and client at risk from potentially deadly bloodborne diseases.
Once you have decided you want to learn how to do tattoos you need to find an artist whom you admire and want to teach you. They may not be willing and they may turn you down but persistence can pay off and if you are really serious about it then hard work will pay off. Just because an artist charges a lot of money it does not mean they are particularly skilled, neither does having decades of experience. If you want to learn how to do tattoos from the best then you need to be able to recognize their skills. Generally good tattoos are solid work – the line work is crisp and clean, the colors are solid and sharp, and the fades are smooth and even.
There are two aspects to learning to tattoo, theory and practical; understanding both is key if you plan on being able to do this job professionally. The theory behind tattooing encompasses safety issues such as chemicals and handling bio hazardous waste, while the practical aspect is both tattooing and drawing. To learn how to do tattoos successfully you have to do both and learning how to do all aspects well is what will make you a good artist. Usually your mentor will make sure you are well versed on the theory and the knowledge behind tattooing before you ever try it out. This can be as simple as asking you why they are doing something or whether or not they should be using gloves for shop tasks.
To learn how to do tattoos you do not necessarily have to be an artist, anyone can be taught the how to aspects of executing a tattoo, it's no harder than teaching someone to ride a bike. There is a basic strategy and execution that tattooing requires just like any other creative job. Those who learn how to do tattoos but aren't generally artists themselves end up as tattooist or flash monkeys. There people do not create designs but will carbon copy from pre-made images and are often looked down upon by those who are more creatively inclined. Those with creative inclinations often learn how to do tattoos and go much farther professionally as well as make better money so it is important before you learn how to do tattoos to decide if you are going to be wasting your time or not.