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iStock_000004601101XSmall.jpgWhat do you do for a living? I’m a Tattoo artist and piercer, I run a shop.

How would you describe what you do?

I guess the application of artwork to the human body would be the best way to put it. Making people happier with themselves.

What does your work entail?

Well, it’s considered a medical procedure, the basics. It’s regulated by the Health Department. We’ve got to be wary of cross-contamination, things like that. So, you’ve got to have at least some minor medical background. An artistic eye and talent helps. That’s the difference between a tattoo artist and a tattooist, which are two totally different things.

I’ve done tattoos on teachers, principals, police officers, politicians, as well as punk rockers, you name it. Just because you have a tattoo, doesn’t make you a bad person.

A tattooist can do anything they can see off the wall. A tattoo artist can take anything they can see on the wall and make it better. As far as an average week, there is no average honestly. As you can see our hours are different for example Monday and Tuesday 1-9, Fridays 1-11, sometimes we have a chance to get out of here early, sometimes we’re here until 2 or 3 in the morning.

How did you get started?

I’ve always been interested in stuff like this. Ever since I was a kid. But I’m from California too.

What do you like about what you do?

Diversity, meeting new people and doing new things, trying new techniques. Just not being held back.

What do you dislike?

Not everybody’s polite; some people are just plain jackasses.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated as a tatoo artist?

Commission. Some of them give a 50/50 split, some of them do a 60/40 split, it all depends on how the shop is set up. Sometimes you buy your own supplies, sometimes they buy your supplies.

How much money do you make as a tatoo artist?

I probably average somewhere around $30,000.

What education or skills are needed to do this?

You’ve got to go through a minimum of 6 months apprenticeship, Health Department requirement. Any art classes of course would be of benefit. And you’ve got to be willing to stick your neck out there and stand on your own two feet, literally.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Skin. You’ve got to be prepared to switch how you’re tattooing from point to point. The skin on your body can vary greatly, an 1/8th of an inch over is totally different than it was at the spot before. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can screw up a tattoo pretty quick.

What is most rewarding?

Having something to show for your work.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

Prepare yourself. Usually you are either rolling fast or not at all, so make sure you set things to the side and you plan for the future.

How much time off do you get/take? It depends on what I need. I pay for my own vacations. We’re considered independent contractors.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

Only the bad boys and bad girls get tattoos, honestly. I’ve done tattoos on teachers, principals, police officers, politicians, as well as punk rockers, you name it. Just because you have a tattoo, doesn’t make you a bad person.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

To own my own place.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Tailer Hazelwood April 22, 2013 at 8:36 am

What made you want to become an artist? why did you decide to be an
a tattoo artist?

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Caroline K November 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I really enjoyed this article. I’m not going to school to be a tattoo artist by any means, but tattoos have always interested me. My boyfriend does tattoo work on the side and really enjoys it, and I really enjoy getting tattoos. I’m using this article as a reference in a speech that I am giving tonight for an IOC class, and I couldn’t be more grateful to find a source that was helpful and not entirely dull.
Thanks.

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Monique October 25, 2012 at 8:26 am

I LOVE the thought of being a tatoo artist, its my passion to draw, sketch, doodle, whatever else anything to do with art I love! All my friends like when i draw, they get me to draw on their skin, like a fake tattoo. Im 17 and this interview helped so much. After i graduate Im hoping I can get into tattooing right away but the thing is I think im not really ready I want my skills to get better more advanced.

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tattoo forum May 26, 2012 at 3:02 am

Someone want to help with alpha and omega tattoo design please?

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kathryn Horne February 25, 2012 at 3:44 pm

i want to actually job shadow someone intead of my parents because i dont want to be a homeowner or a military worker. i want to have a more exciting job that i am good at and im not very talented except for my love in art. i wish to talk to anyone. I would look forward to getting to know anyone with the same intrest as me.I think that a tattoo artist is a beatiful job and i hope someone responds to this.

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FREDI CARRILLO November 17, 2011 at 10:59 am

I AM 19 YEARS OLD AND I STARTED DOING TATTOOS AT THE AGE OF 13, ITS MY HOBBY AND MY PASSION I WILL START TATTOOING SCHOOL IN SAN.DIEGO THIS YEAR COMING UP.ITS A GREAT CAREER ITS FUN AND ALLOWS YOU TO SHOW YOUR SKILLS AND TALENT AND YOU GED PAID FOR!!!!

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jackie t. November 4, 2011 at 10:39 am

I am A 13 year old kid and i am going to school for this thanks for giving me a few pointers

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Tony salcido July 8, 2011 at 12:11 am

Hi Been interested in doing tattoos since I was 13 years old Now I’m 30 n I” ve done like 30 tattoos n I reallly like doing tattoos but my ? Is if is posible to get a tattoo licence in California eith out having a ss number or a green card?

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Thomas Phillips April 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm

hey i am would like to know who the author of this page is. i am writing a paper about tattoo artist/piercers for my culmintating project and i would love to use this as a source

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trave45 April 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Thomas, feel free to use the website domain name as the source. I own the website. This particular interview was done anonymously with the Tattoo Artist so he would talk freely about his job and his income, therefore I won’t be able to reveal his name. Good luck with your project! Thanks for commenting!

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Esmeralda D. Iniguez April 2, 2011 at 11:53 pm

It feels good to know that they offer job shadowing at tattoo shops, this would get me even more prepaired in the tattooing business.

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