To learn how to be a tattoo artist you must pass extensive and rigorous training. Each state is different in what they require for you to become a tattoo artist and it can be an arduous task. The first thing if you plan to learn how to be a tattoo artist is to look into becoming an apprentice. Tattoo apprenticeships are a time of learning, sort of like college, where you shadow an already licensed and experienced artist and learn the vocation from them. It is similar to what you would expect during an electrical apprenticeship for example.
The first thing you will need to do if you plan on getting an apprenticeship is have a good drawing portfolio handy. This doesn't have to be hundreds of sketches but it does need to show a variety of work and showcase your best skills. If you only have 5 sketches you probably won't look serious and if you have hundreds that aren't good quality then you won't look like a good candidate at all. If you plan to learn how to be a tattoo artist then you need to prove to the person you want to teach you why you are better than the other people who come in every day and ask for an apprenticeship. Competition really is that fierce for apprenticeships and even with that many will still drop out from lack of stamina or the stress of holding both a full time job and an unpaid apprenticeship at the same time.
Once you have a portfolio you can try approaching artists to see if anyone is willing to teach you, as mentioned they will probably say no simply to see if you are persistent enough to come back and try again. Proving your stamina and persistence can pay off even if they don't feel you're talented enough simply because you apparently want the job enough to keep coming back. Persistence can really pay off in this case, especially if you ask for advice on your artwork and prove you can follow instruction by bringing back work that shows the application of it.
If you get an apprenticeship you will still have a long way to go to learn how to be a tattoo artist. Usually apprenticeships take years to complete and require a commitment to learning about both cleanliness and artistic application. At first there will be a lot of grunt work involved, stuff that seemingly may not be teaching you anything but often these are to prove you can be trusted with equipment and essentially with client's lives. Cleaning equipment is tantamount both to your safety, the artists safety, and the client's safety as improper cleaning can cause cross contamination of blood matter potentially transmitting dangerous diseases. This part of the job is as important as being able to draw but as you are being monitored your chances of causing permanent damage as low whereas if you were to go straight to skin you would be doing exactly that
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