Becoming a tattoo artist is a solid way to both express yourself and build a career. As you might guess, though, you can’t simply open up your own shop and begin working without meeting a few prerequisites.

Many people aren’t quite sure if they should go to tattoo school or become a tattoo apprentice before moving forward. So, we’ve put together a guide that will help you make the decision best for you.

Let’s dive in.

Tattoo School

As the name suggests, tattoo school requires students to adhere to a specific curriculum. This means they will need to complete the required coursework, meet graduation prerequisites, etc.

As a result, tattoo school is notable for the level of involvement that students experience. The certified instructors responsible for teaching the courses are also professional tattooists.

So, you won’t have to worry about any part of your education being irrelevant when it is time to transition into your career.

Like many other types of postsecondary schools, you will need to be at least 18 years old in order to enroll. Additionally, you also need to have a valid high school diploma or GED.

But, there is another factor to consider that many people tend to overlook. Your art background will dictate how easy these courses are for you to complete.

In general, the more art education you have, the better. But, it’s not impossible for someone with a strong passion for both art and tattooing to succeed in this environment.

If you aren’t sure if your knowledge of art is sufficient enough, it would be worth your time to explore drawing principles before moving forward. This will allow you to have a solid foundation of knowledge that you can build upon as you progress to the program.

Otherwise, you run the risk of struggling throughout your time at a tattoo school. As long as you are sufficiently prepared, however, this is a comprehensive path that can prepare you for your future career.

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Tattoo Shop Apprenticeship

For those who prefer a more hands-on experience or don’t have the time to follow a rigid curriculum, a tattoo shop apprenticeship is a viable alternative. This involves working closely with a professional tattoo artist in order to learn various nuances about the industry.

Additionally, you will gain significant insight into their daily routine, how to prepare your workstation, etc. In ideal scenarios, you will walk away from your tattoo apprenticeship fully prepared to be working as a professional tattoo artist.

Unfortunately, things don’t always turn out this way. It’s entirely possible for someone who undergoes a tattoo apprenticeship to learn very little about the industry.

Additionally, the tattoo artist they work with may not be able to guide them sufficiently enough to begin tattooing. For example, most tattoo artists will work with their apprentices to reach a point where they can begin tattooing basic artwork on clients.

If the tattoo apprentice is never presented with this opportunity, chances are they are not learning as much as they could during their apprenticeship. This can easily result in wasting a period of one to two years without gaining enough experience to begin working as a tattoo professional.

If you choose to pursue an apprenticeship, however, you should also understand that they are notoriously difficult to obtain. Not only do you have to have a strong background in art, but you also need to find a mentor who is willing to work with you based on your potential.

If you are unable to find a tattoo professional willing to invest their time, you may need to further your own artistic abilities and then try again in the future.

Which Should I Choose?

The main factor to consider when deciding between the two paths is whether or not you are willing to gamble on the outcome. As previously mentioned, tattoo apprenticeships can be highly rewarding experiences that allow former apprentices to easily enter the tattooing industry.

But, they also have the chance of wasting both time and resources without getting anything in return. To further complicate the situation, there are numerous barriers to entry when it comes to obtaining a tattoo apprenticeship, and even qualified artists may still have a difficult time doing so.

In contrast, a tattoo school is guaranteed to provide you with all of the necessary information to begin your career.

Additionally, you don’t need to have a comprehensive background in art in order to join one. Although this can certainly help, there are plenty of principles regarding art and design that you will learn during your curriculum.

As such, it’s an ideal option for those who have a strong passion for art but haven’t quite mastered certain concepts yet. If you feel confident enough in your own abilities and you are able to find a mentor willing to work with you, it may be worth your time to pursue a tattoo apprenticeship.

Otherwise, it is highly likely that you will find enrolling in tattoo school far more rewarding.

Deciding Can Seem Difficult

The information listed above will help you make the decision that is best for you. From here, you’ll have no trouble deciding whether or not tattoo school is the path you should take.

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