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Body Artist/Tattooist Profile

 
Introduction

This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Body Artist/Tattooist. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Body Artist/Tattooist
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Body Artist/Tattooist Work Information


Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Tattoos are designs, words and pictures made on the body. It is an art that has changed little since the introduction of the electric tattoo machine about 100 years ago.

A tattooist must explain the tattooing procedure, and make sure their client is certain they want a tattoo, before discussing designs.

The design is then drawn or stenciled onto the body before the tattooist colours it in using an electrically operated needle, which injects the coloured ink under the skin.

Tattooists must be careful, as mistakes cannot easily be rectified. They must also be registered by the local environmental health department and operate in hygienic premises.

Studios are usually commercial premises, sometimes forming part of a beauty salon offering similar services such as body piercing. Studio hours will usually be 9am to 5pm.

A tattooist should

• be artistic
• have an eye for design and detail
• be interested in tattoos, and usually have tattoos of their own
• have good hand-to-eye co-ordination and a steady hand.

The demand for tattooing has increased over the past 15 years, as has the number of salons and tattooing conventions.

Entry is usually through an apprenticeship, which can be hard to get on to. Prospective tattooists should approach a local registered tattoo artist who may agree to take them on. There is no restriction on older people becoming tattooists.

An apprenticeship can last for two to three years and apprentices are expected to buy their own equipment and sterilising units, costing between £4,000 to £5,000.

Once tattooists are registered and experienced they can attract their own clients, or alternatively open their own studios, possibly employing other tattooists.

What does the role encounter?

Tattoos are designs, words and pictures made on the body. It is an art that has changed little since the introduction of the electric tattoo machine about 100 years ago.

A tattooist’s first job is to explain the tattooing procedure to their clients and ensure they are certain about wanting a tattoo. This is especially important as tattooing is permanent. In some cases it may involve gaining written consent.
Tattooists then help the client to choose a design, giving them advice about what may or may not be suitable. This may involve using an existing design or interpreting the client’s own ideas.

The design is drawn freehand onto the skin, or outlined using a stencil. It may be necessary to shave the area being tattooed. The tattooist then follows the lines using an electrically operated needle which injects the coloured ink under the skin.

Tattooists use different shapes, sizes and numbers of needles for different jobs, and use their artistic skills to colour and shade the tattoo. Some tattooists specialise in certain types of tattoo such as tribal work or oriental styles.

Tattooists must be careful, as mistakes cannot easily be rectified. A tattoo is permanent because the ink is applied to the base layer of skin. If the ink is applied to the top layer of skin the image will not last, because this layer is constantly renewing itself. Tattooists may also supply antiseptic cream to cover the finished tattoo and tell people how to properly care for the tattoo.

Hygiene is vital as contaminated tattooing equipment can spread infection and disease, including hepatitis and HIV. Both the premises and the tattooist must be registered by the local environmental health department and although local by-laws vary slightly, the general requirements are that:

• the premises used are suitable
• the studio is kept clean and disinfected
• the equipment is sterilised using machines such as an autoclave
• waste is disposed of properly.

Premises are inspected regularly to ensure that regulations are being observed. Failure to maintain standards can result in closure.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Tattooists can work irregular hours, including late nights and weekends. Some studios close on a Monday, while other larger ones may be open seven days a week. As the work is detailed and concentration is required, tattooists tend to schedule their work in short spells throughout the day.

Tattooists usually work in their own studio, or share one with other tattooists. A studio is often in commercial premises, either as a dedicated outlet or part of another business offering other similar services such as body piercing. Some tattooists work from home, but must still meet the same legal requirements.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

Earnings depend entirely upon an individual’s talent and ability coupled with the reputation of the studio where they work.

• A trainee tattooist might earn £10,000.
• An experienced tattooist might earn around £15,000.
• Tattooists owning their own studios could earn around £30,000.

Trainees are fortunate to earn anything whilst training, however they should receive national minimum rates of around £5 an hour for taking on additional duties. Increasingly, trainees are paying experienced tattooists in order to follow an apprenticeship.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

• have artistic skills and a good imagination
• have an eye for design and detail
• have patience and confidence
• have good hand-to-eye co-ordination and steady hands
• usually be over 18 years of age, depending on local laws
• have high standards of cleanliness and be constantly aware of the need for hygiene
• have a knowledge of health and safety
• understand the health effects of irritants
• be prepared to work on any part of the human body, except the face or the neck
• be good communicators - to chat to clients and discuss in detail exactly what they want
• be able to handle criticism and not be squeamish
• have budgeting and business skills if they are self-employed
• be able to maintain tattooing equipment.

What type of training will I receive?

An apprenticeship can last for two to three years and apprentices are expected to buy their own equipment and steriliing units, costing between £4,000 to £5,000.

Wages may not be paid during this period, but apprentices work with a professional tattooist for five or six days a week. They might be able to negotiate some payment for other work that they do in the salon, such as clerical jobs or cleaning.

They are taught the necessary skills gradually and begin to put on their own tattoos after about six months, although it can take up to three years before they are fully competent with the equipment. They will also learn how to select a design, and about infection control, customer service and running a business.

It is illegal to tattoo without being registered by the environmental health department. If tattooists do not comply with the registration requirements their equipment can be confiscated and they are liable to be fined.

Career Progression:

There is no set promotional structure in tattooing. Progress and better wages come with experience, reputation, and the ability to produce more complicated and detailed designs.

Once tattooists are registered and experienced they can attract their own clients, or alternatively open their own studios, possibly employing other tattooists.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Beauty Therapist
Graphic Designer
Illustrator
Hairdresser
Image Consultant
Make-up Artist

Where can I find further information?

Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority (HABIA), 2nd Floor, Fraser House, Nether Hall Road, Doncaster DN1 2PH. 01302 380000. Website: www.habia.org

Tattoo Club of Great Britain, 389 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 2BS. 01865 716877. Website: www.tattoo.co.uk

What trade magazines are available for this industry?

All of the following magazines and journals can be purchased from any good bookstore:

Skin Deep
Skin Shots


Other Useful Body Artist/Tattooist Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Body Artist/Tattooist job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Body Artist/Tattooist Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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