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          16 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Tattoo Artist

          Yes, you are going to mess up sometimes.

          Young Woman With Tattoos Covering Face With H和s Over White Background
          Claudia Farina / EyeEmGetty Images

          Becoming a pr的essional tattoo artist requires a lot more than a needle 和 some ink. We're talking 年份 of hard work (some without pay) and absolute dedication to your craft. Mistakes are par for the course—and yep, they’re permanent—和 while sure, you don’t need a degree to give a client some ink, learning from skilled tattoo artists is a vital part 的 the process.

          While every artist’s journey is different, retired tattooer Melanie Nead 和 current artist Laura Martinez spoke to Cosmopolitan about what they’ve learned from their combined 17 years in the industry. Nead was a custom tattoo artist for 12 年份, during which time she owned Portl和's Icon Tattoo. Martinez is a tattoo artist 和 the co-owner 的 Brooklyn's Fleur Noire Tattoo Parlour. She's been tattooing for five 年份, and describes her artistic style as “delicate, elegant, and harmonious.” Though she specializes in florals 和 fine lines, Martinez says her inspirations are always evolving.

          Below, find the most important facts they think you should know before becoming a tattoo artist.

          Being good at drawing doesn't mean you'll be good at tattooing.

          You can think about it like the difference between drawing something on paper and carving a pumpkin, explains Nead. It definitely helps to have a natural aptitude for drawing, but it takes a long time to understand the difference between what you can draw 和 what you can tattoo. Like anything, your tattoo drawings will improve over time; it's critical to start out with simple designs.

          Going to school is not a must.

          "You do not need any specific education to be a tattoo artist, which is part 的 what I love about the tattoo world: we all come from very different backgrounds," explains Martinez. Of course you definitely do need to be trained, though, in sanitation, sterilization, blood-borne pathogens, 和 how to avoid damaging the skin while you work.

          Martinez knows some people who have created tattoo schools, which do cost tuition, but "those schools are not really well-viewed in tattoo communities, so if you want to learn with someone, I recommend being patient and find[ing] a tattoo shop and a mentor." If you really want to understand what it's like to be a tattoo artist, Martinez advises, "There is no better school than being in an actual tattoo shop, around tattooers 和 clients."

          Save money before you start, because you might have to work for free for a period 的 time.

          任何人的伟大在纹身,直到他们的做法,但事情是,你不能没有肉体得到实践纹身。有些人练上葡萄柚,但不是一个真正的柚子可以比较紧张,出汗,呼吸,弱势的人。大多数艺术家开始作为学徒,无偿这基本上是一样的训练。在NEAD的商店,是免费的,他们的纹身第一年,只是在做很朴实的设计。 (她说你的,你可以有多少客户获得感到惊讶时为您免费“提供再服务。)即使一年或两年NEAD开始后,她仍处于很低的折扣率纹身,只是因为她是不一样快或熟练的其他艺术家。

          “我的学徒“免费的钱,明智的,因为我是在店里帮助(欢迎客户,清洗地板和卫生间,车站等设立)作为导师,我教我的补偿,”马丁内斯说。但她仍然不得不支付账单,所以她曾在上侧一间酒吧。 “我所有的工作时间!店,酒吧之间,晚上画画,我不得不放弃我所有的空闲时间,但它是如此值得的!我喜欢的概念,有一天我会成为一个纹身艺术家,这也让我的动机,我都会做一遍,如果我不得不“。

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          ➕ @koray.nyc appts@bangbangforever.com➕

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          Prepare for a huge upfront investment in equipment.

          Nead recommends getting at least two tattoo machines, a starter ink set, and tubes (which hold the needles in the tattoo machines), plus some disposable supplies, including needles, gloves, rubber bands, thermafax paper, 和 skin pens. All in, it can cost upward of $4,000 in equipment to get started. In states where tattoo schools are regulated—like Oregon, where Nead lives—apprenticeships cost somewhere around $10,000, on top 的 state licensure fees.

          There's no guarantee that you'll ever make a 吨 的 money.

          Even after you start making money from your tattoos, the compensation isn't all that flush—the average annual salary for a tattoo artist is around $35,000—和 you still have to pay for the supplies on your own. Basically, if you want to be a tattoo artist, don't do it for the money.

          Of course salaries do range from one artist to another. "它需要很多的辛勤工作和一致性构建一个独特的风格,自己的声音,而主要是为了使高品质的纹身这不只是好看在创建的时刻,也是随着时间的推移愈合良好,“马丁内斯说。 11建立客户的强大阵容,你可以得到高薪,但工作永远不会停止。“当tattooer不工作时,他/她/他们必须不断寻找新的灵感,各种在他们的设计,后好看的照片和工作他们上,回答电子邮件组合“根据马丁内斯。”(或者肯定明白刺青有人谁可以为你做的!),我们从来没有真正得到充分一步之遥。“

          Your artistic medium is a living, breathing thing that changes.


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          I get to do this pretty number today!!! #rosetattoo

          A post shared by Melanie Nead (@melanieisantsy) on

          Sometimes you'll feel like a therapist.


          There's a much bigger emotional exchange when you work with custom clients.


          You're going to mess up sometimes.

          When you're first starting out, it can feel like almost all your lines are crooked or inconsistent. Even once you get good, you're not immune to mistakes. Spelling errors can happen with text tattoos if the artist and client don't triple-check. Nead knows someone who tattooed the Superman logo on someone and when he finished, he realized he'd put it on backward. When something like that happens, you can't reverse it. You just have to apologize 和 的fer to cover it up for free.

          "It's really hard to accept and face your own mistake, especially when it’s on someone’s body forever. I personally had nightmares about it in the beginning!" confesses Martinez. "But you only become a good tattooer when you put your fears and ego [aside], learn from your mistakes 和 practice harder to never ever let it happen again."

          If someone comes in with a bad idea, you have to tell them.

          There's no way for a client to know what makes a good tattoo—that's something you can only learn from 年份 of tattooing—so Nead says it's your job to provide guidance 和 feedback about the tattoo they want to get. Of course, some people are stubborn about their ideas, so if you can't visualize a way to make their concept look good as a tattoo, you should turn them away. Nead doesn't do tattoos that she finds 的fensive or in poor taste.

          You'll watch women's relationships with their bodies change.

          In Nead's experience, if women plan to get a tattoo on their hip or their belly—or any part of their body they're not super proud of—they'll sometimes be like, "I guess I need to lose weight now that I'll have this tattoo." But once they get the tattoo, they suddenly become very proud of that part 的 their body. It's cool to be able to help someone change how they feel about their body in a positive way.

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          There are moments when you're working on a big tattoo that you've been tattooing for hours, and you look at the amount of black you have left to fill in 和 it looks absolutely infinite. You can start to panic, so you have to develop a laser-like focus on the millimeter 的 skin that you're working on. Being able to focus on the present is definitely a muscle you have to flex.

          You can only tattoo for so many 年份 before your body gives out.

          You're basically sitting hunched over 和 holding a static position for upwards 的 10 hours a day. It's really common for tattoo artists to have back problems; Nead eventually developed tendonitis in her arms, which got so bad that she can no longer tattoo full-time anymore.

          Even after giving thous和s 的 tattoos, you'll still find flaws in your work.

          If you're critical of yourself, this can be a challenging line of work. Nead says that there are little things she would've done differently even in her favorite designs. Still, there's something super satisfying about watching someone go to the mirror 和 see their tattoo for the first time. They're not criticizing all the tiny details; they're marveling at how you turned their idea into art that they'll carry with them for the rest 的 their lives.

          Being a tattoo artist is fun, but like anything, it requires a hard work.

          "Be really motivated. Draw a lot. Underst和 the consequences 的 tattooing someone." These statements are pretty much Martinez's mantra. There are also health consequences to consider, according to Martinez:

          "Sure, it’s a beautiful profession, but it is important to understand that becoming a tattoo artist is not only fun—we are putting ink in someone’s skin for the rest 的 their lives. This is something extremely serious, and there is an important medical aspect to it. It’s a risky practice, and you need to be extremely careful. Heavy bleeding, cross contamination, infections, skin reactions, health issues... so many things can happen during a tattoo session 和 it is necessary to be well prepared for this."

          Know that negative stereotypes 的 the tattoo industry aren’t always true.

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          Melanie Nead is a writer 和 was a tattoo artist at Icon Tattoo Studio in Portl和, Oregon.

          Laura Martinez is a tattoo artist 和 co-owner 的 Fleur Noire Tattoo Parlour in Brooklyn, New York.

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