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Starting A Career As A Tattoo Artist

Starting A Career As A Tattoo Artist

In our minds, there probably isn’t a better career than being a tattoo artist, but of course, we are biased. So, we decided to come up with some commonly asked questions and answers for you to think about as you determine if you want to become a tattoo artist. Do I need to graduate high school before I can become an apprentice? No, there is no minimum level of schooling required to becoming a tattoo apprentice or tattoo artist. Technically, you only need to be proficient in drawing to enter into a tattoo apprenticeship. However, we encourage our apprentices to at least finish high school because we feel everyone should have a decent foundation for reading and writing. That being said, a lot of our most successful artists HAVE INDEED gone through some degree of post-secondary education for art. Fine art and illustration programs generally offer the highest value for tattooing. While it’s not necessary, some level of formal training in art can help you focus your passion onto paper and eventually skin. Do you have tips on making a vast art portfolio?
  1. A portfolio should accurately represent who you are and what you stand for. Too often, we have applicants who bring in a few loose pieces of paper with some rough sketching on it and try to pass them off as a portfolio. If you’re not going to take yourself seriously, it’s going to be hard for us to take you seriously.
  2. Either show expertise or show range. If your portfolio is composed entirely of one style, then we are going to assume that you have quite a bit of experience with it, and we will be looking for a high level of execution. On the other hand, if you are still searching for your style or you love to do many different forms, then show us as full of a range as possible. The more you show us, the more we can understand what kind of artist you are and where we can help to make you a better tattoo artist.
  3. Show us your heart. Your portfolio should feel like you poured your blood, sweat, and tears into it. Yes, we look for technical skills, but the most important thing we look for is how much you love what you do and how hard you tried to make your art beautiful.
  4. Don’t be afraid. We have imagination. We are looking for talent. Talent doesn’t have to come wholly refined and polished. We are not scared to work with you to build your art skills. We already know you’re trying to become a tattoo apprentice to develop your artistic talent further. Today isn’t essential, all we care about is where you can be in the future. So, if you feel you have a lot to improve your art, that’s okay too. That’s how we think about our craft every day.
  5. Be your judge. Are you happy with your portfolio? Are you proud of it? Would you tattoo anything in there on yourself? You should be your harshest critic. If you’ve done your best, then you are ready to show the world what you got.
Do I need to be professionally trained in art before applying? No, you don't need to be professionally trained. A strong foundation certainly helps, but we've turned many hobbyists into tattoo artists before. What’s most important to us is having a strong passion for your art that we can help you focus. That being said, we've also asked many of our apprentices to take some additional art classes to supplement our training with them. How long is the apprenticeship? The short answer is, however long it takes. People come to us with varying degrees of talent, art skills and foundation. We've had people who've graduated in as short as eight months and some as long as 2.5 years. Once someone becomes an apprentice at Chronic Ink Tattoo, we take this commitment seriously. We assure them that we will do whatever it takes to help them become a professional tattoo artist. We’ve developed over 20 artists since 2008, so we have a decent idea of how to help someone become a successful tattoo artist. Many of them have gone on to become household names in Canada, you know them as Tony, BKS, Marilyn, Evan D, Karen, to name a few. How much can I earn as a tattoo artist? Tattoo artists have the potential to make an excellent living. There are three common ways tattoo artists charge for tattoos: 1) Piece pricing: A hand-sized tattoo would be anywhere from $300 (something fairly basic) - $1500 (something reasonably complex like a custom colour realistic portrait. 2) Hourly pricing: We’ll use Toronto & Vancouver as an example. Base hourly rates start at around 150/hour. Good artists command around 200/hour, and elite artists can ask for 300/hour. And, if you’re the top 1% of the world, artists can request around 500 USD/ hour. Most artists can work approximately 4-7 hours per day. 3) Day rate: Similar to booking a photographer for the day. A tattoo in Vancouver or tattoo in Toronto can range from about 850 per day to 1500 per day. And, the top 1% of the world can command anywhere from 3K to 5K per day. Is there a governing education authority that regulates tattoo apprenticeships? No. The only authority that regulates the industry in our province is the Ontario Public Health board. Every studio is inspected at least once a year, and if you pass, you get a certificate from their "BodySafe" program, similar to when restaurants get a green pass certificate from the city. Will I be licensed or certified? No. There's no official certification from any governing body, and that's part of the risk. Too many people try learning on human skin way too fast without proper health and safety training and without supervision. That's why we always advocate learning from a proper studio so you can get the education and guidance.

Ready to get your next tattoo

Do you live in or around the Toronto, Markham, Mississauga or Kitsilano Vancouver area? If so, give the team at Chronic Ink Tattoo a call today to learn more about their policies regarding the age of consent for getting a tattoo. Our team is on standby, ready and happy to help. And when you’re prepared to take the plunge, you won’t find a more passionate, dedicated, caring and talented team of tattoo artists.

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Tattoo Studio Locations

Downtown Toronto

378 Yonge Street, 2nd Floor, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1S6 Directions

Midtown Toronto

252 Eglinton Ave East, 2nd Floor, Toronto, Ontario M4P 1K2 Directions


7381 Kennedy Road, Unit #105, Markham, Ontario L3R 5B5 Directions


100 City Centre Dr., Unit #2-311, Mississauga, Ontario L5N 2C9 Directions


1804 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia V6J 1M3 Directions

Looking for your next Tattoo Idea?

Browse our selection of one of a kinda tattoo designs created by our Chronic Ink artists. Each piece is individual and will only ever be tattooed once.

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