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Can I Become a Tattoo Artist Without an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are an excellent way to gain practical skills and knowledge while earning a wage. However, you may wonder, “Can i become a tattoo artist without an apprenticeship?”

Tattoos have become increasingly popular in recent years, leading many individuals to consider a career as a tattoo artist. In this article, we will explore this topic in detail, discussing the pros and cons of pursuing a career in tattooing without an apprenticeship.

Can I Become a Tattoo Artist Without an Apprenticeship

Understanding the Role of an Apprenticeship

Before diving into the topic, it’s important to understand the purpose and significance of an apprenticeship in the tattoo industry. An apprenticeship involves learning under the guidance and supervision of an experienced tattoo artist, providing hands-on training, knowledge transfer, and the opportunity to develop fundamental skills and techniques. It typically takes several years to complete an apprenticeship and is considered the traditional path to becoming a professional tattoo artist.

Pros of Pursuing Tattooing Without an Apprenticeship

  1. Autonomy and Self-Learning: Without an apprenticeship, you can learn at your own pace and explore various tattooing techniques. This allows for more creativity and the opportunity to develop a unique style.
  2. Flexibility in Learning Resources: With the vast amount of online information, aspiring tattoo artists can access tutorials, video demonstrations, and online courses that provide insights into tattooing techniques, safety protocols, and industry trends.
  3. Lower Cost: Apprenticeships often come with a financial commitment, as you may need to pay for the training or offer unpaid labour in exchange for mentorship. Learning independently can be more cost-effective, especially for tight budgets.

Cons of Pursuing Tattooing Without an Apprenticeship

  1. Lack of Structured Learning: Apprenticeships offer a structured learning environment with a clear progression of skills. With this structure, it can be easier to develop a comprehensive understanding of the art and technical aspects of tattooing.
  2. Limited Hands-on Experience: Tattooing is an art form that requires practice and experience. Without an apprenticeship, you may have limited opportunities to work with real clients, hindering your growth as a tattoo artist.
  3. Safety Concerns: Tattooing involves working with needles, ink, and clients’ skin, which carries potential health risks if proper hygiene and safety practices are not followed. An apprenticeship provides essential guidance in maintaining hygiene standards and preventing cross-contamination.

Alternative Paths to Becoming a Tattoo Artist

While an apprenticeship is a traditional route, it’s not the only way to become a tattoo artist. Here are a few alternative paths to consider:

  1. Mentorship: Seek out experienced tattoo artists willing to offer guidance and mentorship. While less structured than an apprenticeship, this can provide valuable insights and occasional hands-on learning opportunities.
  2. Art Education: Pursuing formal education in art, such as a degree in fine arts or illustration, can help you develop your artistic skills and gain a deeper understanding of various art forms, including tattooing.
  3. Work in a Tattoo Studio: Applying for entry-level positions in a tattoo studio, such as a receptionist or shop assistant, can provide exposure to the industry and opportunities to observe and learn from professional tattoo artists.


Becoming a tattoo artist without an apprenticeship is possible but comes with challenges and limitations. While self-learning offers autonomy and flexibility, it may need more structured guidance and hands-on experience from an apprenticeship. It’s crucial to continually educate yourself, practice diligently, and prioritise safety to develop the necessary skills and knowledge for a successful tattooing career. Remember, the journey of becoming a tattoo artist is unique for each individual, and finding the right path that suits your circumstances and aspirations is essential. 

Updated on May 21, 2023

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