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How to Practice Tattooing for Beginners

illustrative traditional rose with paint by number diagram

Tattooing is a fascinating craft that appeals to many for its potential to provide a relatively reliable source of income using their artistic skills. But tattooing on human beings is not something for beginners to try right away, even if you are an experienced illustrator or painter. Before you’re ready to work on people, you need a lot of time and practice learning the specific skills, tools, and techniques of tattooing.
 

Practice Tattoo Drawingillustrative traditional rose icon on yellow background

Being a strong draftsman will certainly help your transition into tattooing, and anyone trying to become a professional tattoo artist should practice drawing every day. Your drawing practice will be most effective for learning tattooing. Focus on clean, clear line drawing with varying line weights and then practice inking your sketches with drawing pens over a lightbox to develop smooth, clean lines.

You can also buy books of flash art. These flash books can help develop your command of traditional designs and shapes as well as provide insight into the process and composition of skilled tattoo artists whose work you admire.

Finally, you should practice drawing on contoured and uneven surfaces like oranges or bananas. Although they’re far from what it feels like to tattoo on skin, this early practice will help give you a sense of how two-dimensional designs contort when transferred to a three-dimensional surface. You can even practice on your own skin using a skin marker to trace over a stencil transfer of one of your designs.
 

illustrative coil tattoo machine icon on blue backgroundLearn About Tattooing Equipment

Every artist needs a clear understanding of their tools’ uses and capabilities, and tattooing is no different. A tattoo machine is the tattoo artist’s primary tool, so knowing how they work and how to adjust them is a critical part of training to be a tattoo artist. And just as a painter must know what brushes and paints a project requires, a tattoo artist must know what tattoo needles and tattoo inks to use with their machine for specific processes and effects.

Beyond those core tattoo supplies, there’s equipment for cleanliness and hygiene so that you’re tattooing safely and cleanly. Knowing how to set up your tattoo workstation with the proper gear, as well as tattoo sanitation and aftercare supplies are all part of the tattoo trade that a beginning artist must learn.
 

Practice Tattooing Techniqueillustrative skull with laurel icon on light blue background

Once you’ve spent a good amount of time practicing your tattoo drawing and learning about the equipment, you might be ready to invest in your first tattoo machine. Check out these tips on choosing the right machine for you. Again, tattooing on people is not something for a beginning artist to try right away, so it’s a good idea to practice on fruits or on practice tattoo skin in order to get a feel for the machine, needle depth, and how to use your skills on skin. Practice tattoo skin comes in various shapes and sizes that mimic the contours of the body in order to help you gain comfort with various tattoo sizes and locations.
 

illustrative lit light bulb icon on blue backgroundSeek Out Knowledge and Mentorship

In addition to all of the above, you should look for information and training about tattooing wherever you can. For most professional tattoo artists, the most reliable way to success is through a tattoo apprenticeship with an experienced artist who can teach the tools, techniques, and business of tattooing. The internet is an incredible resource to learn tattooing for beginners as well – search YouTube or our PainfulPleasures blog for tons of helpful tattooing information. And when you’re looking for the best professional tattoo supplies and equipment at the best prices you can find online, head to the PainfulPleasures online store.