Can You Be a Tattoo Artist Without Knowing How to Draw?

If you’re thinking about becoming a tattoo artist but you’re not sure that your artistic skills are quite up to par, you might be wondering if this is the right career path for you. We’re here to assure that you just because you may not have natural drawing talent, you can most definitely still be a stellar tattoo artist.

Just like being able to draw does not mean that you would be a good tattoo artist, the opposite is true as well. There are other skills that are important too.

There are so many different types of tattoos artists. Some use only stencils or other people’s art. Some have a natural talent of drawing and tattooing freehand from memory, while others can look at a picture and tattoo the image. If you’re passionate about becoming a tattoo artist, there are ways to live your dream, even if you’re not great at drawing right now. Below you’ll find some easy tips to get you started on the path to your new career.

Start Simple

Just like with anything else in life, you will get better with practice! If you’re starting out a new career as a tattoo artist, start simple! By starting out in your comfort zone, you will get used to small, simple designs. With time and practice you will gain more confidence to take on bigger and more intricate projects.

You can get feedback from other artists, and take their advice on how to hone your skills. Practice is key.

No expert tattoo artist started out that way. Being a confident and skilled tattoo artist takes years of practice and a mastery of the craft. As you meet new artists and hear their stories about what brought them to the profession, and you’ll find that everyone had to work on confidence and style at some point.

Work to Improve Your Drawing Skills

If you are interested in improving your drawing skills before you attempt a career as a tattoo artist, there are numerous ways you can do so. First, just start drawing something. Doodle in a notebook and see where that takes you.

Find out what you’re interested in drawing. Once you know what you like to draw, you’ll be more inspired to learn how to draw that object well. You can find photos of the objects you like to draw and try drawing by looking at the photo. You can also try drawing from something you see in real life, or even by looking at someone else’s drawing for reference.

Another option to improve your drawing is to take a class! Drawing classes are offered online or in person in many cities, and having an expert show you the ropes as well as some tricks and tips to improve and practice can make all the difference! You will learn basic skills that will improve your drawing quality overall, and help you feel more confident.

You Don’t Have to Freehand the Tattoos

Free handing a tattoo is a skill that some tattoos artists prefer, and they hone that skill over time. Sometimes artists will freehand a tattoo because of the location of the tattoo on the body, but most do it because that is their signature style. Most tattoo artists do not do freehand tattoos, though.

Usually, a tattoo artist will take the design idea of the client, and then draw it themselves on paper first. This allows the client to make changes and get a good sense of the artist’s style. Once the client and artist are happy with the design, the artist will print the design on stencil paper. This design is then pressed to the client’s skin so the design can be traced.

Applying and tracing a stencil ensures that the end result of the tattoo will be exactly what the client had in mind, and gives the tattoo artist a greater sense of confidence. All this being said, you can rest assured that you will never be asked to free hand a tattoo.

Whether you free hand or use a stencil is totally up to your comfort level as an artist.

Some people prefer to be tattooed by a free hand artist because they believe those artist are more skilled at tattoos, but that is not necessarily the case. Artists rely on instinct, color choice, and attention to detail more than coming up with something in their head. It’s all about individual style and comfort.

Being a Tattoo Artist Requires Other Skills

There are so many other skills needed to be a great tattoo artist other than drawing ability. Think about the reasons that you want to be a tattoo artist, and some of those skills are bound to be on the list. You should be a creative and imaginative person. Clients will be coming to you with ideas of how they would like to represent important aspects of their lives on their body, and you have the opportunity to help them make their designs a reality.

This is a big responsibility but also such an honor. When someone chooses to get a tattoo, and trusts you to do it well, that’s an awesome opportunity to work with people in a really meaningful way.

You must have patience and dedication. Large tattoos can take hours, or even sessions over multiple days. You must be patient with yourself and with the process, as well as patient with people who may not be totally comfortable with the process of getting a tattoo. You may need to help them through areas that are painful or coach them through the tough parts. Your dedication to finishing a quality piece will be really important as well.

You need to have good interpersonal skills. When you’re tattooing someone for multiple hours, they are not going to be completely comfortable, and you’ll need to be able to interact with them during the session. You’ll be meeting all different kinds of people, and those interpersonal skills will help you engage in conversation with everyone you meet!

Some technical skills you will need are good attention to detail, and a steady hand. These skills are obvious, as they have to do with the quality of your tattoos. A steady hand will ensure you don’t make mistakes, and attention to detail will help you to make sure each tattoo is perfect every time! These are normally skills that you come into the job with, but these can also develop over time.

Take Your Apprenticeship Seriously

A tattoo apprenticeship is the best way to hone your skills and learn from an artist who is already established in the profession. As a student, you will learn everything there is to know about tattooing from your artist.

You will learn about safety and sanitation, tattoo aftercare, and how to operate the equipment. You may spend a while doing this before you even touch the tattoo machine. Once you are ready, then you will start doing some of your own tattoos while being supervised so you can gain feedback and learn your areas for improvement.

The average tattoo apprenticeship takes about two years, and during that time you will gain so much more knowledge and confidence, which will make your tattoos better and more enjoyable for you to do. You will find your personal style, and learn what types of tattoos you are not skilled in.

You will be able to ask questions and get answers from experienced artists. Take this apprenticeship seriously and you will be well on your way to being a skilled and confident artist.

Are you ready to become a tattoo artist?

Now that you know that your lack of drawing skills will not stop you from pursuing your dream of becoming a tattoo artist, nothing can hold you back. Start working on your drawing skills and figure out what style of tattoos is most appealing to you.

Then, you can start getting in contact with tattoo shops in your local area where you may want to shadow. You may have to start off by working the front desk to get your foot in the door, and an apprenticeship is not guaranteed, so it helps to start making connections now and letting people in the industry know that you’re interested.

So get out that sketchbook and start working on your skills. You’ve already taken the first step toward your future career as a tattoo artist!