The desire to create art on another human being’s body is an ambitious endeavor. If your dream is to become a tattoo artist, it’s a good idea to question whether or not it will be a viable way to make a living. You’ll have to remember that this profession requires a high level of skill and commitment.
To get your ink feet wet, you’re probably going to need to apprentice under an established tattoo artist to gain experience. Even the most talented artist has to learn the ropes and techniques of professional tattooing. The logistics of a sketch to the skin is delicate. It requires intense focus and dedication. Apprenticing probably won’t make you any money, but obviously you’ll gain some hands-on schooling.
Once you’ve learned some tattooing techniques, you can work in a tattoo shop, and potentially earn about $100 to $150 an hour. Most of that will probably go to fees or a cut the tattoo shop takes from you. Added to that, you may not have a clientele built up, so your appointments could be few and far between. Other considerations include your location, or if there is a market for tattooing in your particular area. You’ll also need to have a license and pay a yearly fee, which is not the same in every state. Generally speaking, the average professional tattoo artist can earn a salary of somewhere between $15,000 to $30,000 a year.
If you own your tattoo shop, there will be substantial overhead for the equipment. However, since tattooing is now becoming more mainstream, the price of equipment is not as high as it used to be. If you’re a renowned ink master and can tattoo wealthy people such as celebrities, then you could potentially be charging up to $1000 an hour. Most people won’t reach that level, but we can dream, right?