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What does a typical day look like for a tattooer, and are there any side jobs that tattoo artists have to do other than tattooing?

Tattooing is an industry surrounded by intrigue and myths. Many people fancy becoming a tattoo artist due to the misconception that it’s an easy, rock’n’roll lifestyle- a whole of heavy metal, skateboarding, and fame. 


Thanks to reality TV shows surrounding the tattoo world, people assume that all artists get out of bed at 4 pm, do one tattoo while drinking a beer, and then swan off to a punk concert for the rest of the night. While this may be true for some people, the stereotypes surrounding tattooing are very harmful, and they disregard how intense the job can be.


Tattooing isn’t just a 9-5 job.


It consumes your life and requires you to put your all into everything you do. There are so many things other than the literal act of tattooing that tattoo artists need to be able to do, yet many people aren’t aware of these things. 


To be a successful tattoo artist, you must be a businessperson, marketer, customer service rep, and artist.


Therefore, today, we wanted to look at what a tattoo artist might get up to during their day. Some of these will, of course, vary depending on the artist, their seniority, and the studio that they work in, but most of these apply to all artists. 


Drawing

Drawing is an obvious one to start with, but tattoo artists will usually spend a good portion of their day drawing. This could be in a sketchbook or on a drawing tablet, and it may be for a custom piece or an entire flash sheet. Drawing is an essential part of tattooing, as it helps keep artistic skills sharp and keeps clients happy, too.

Additionally, some artists may work as illustrators or on sites like Etsy or Redbubble so that they may draw for other non-tattoo purposes during their day too. It is very common with newer artists or apprentices looking for an extra source of income.


Meeting with clients for consultations

Consultations are always a great idea when it comes to custom tattoo work. I do a lot of them here at Golden Rule Tattoo Shop. Consultations allow artists to meet with their clients before a tattoo and to get a better understanding of what their desired tattoo is.

Having a consultation is also a great way to calm any worries that a client might have. Getting a tattoo can be pretty scary for some people, after all, so having a pre-tattoo chat can be incredibly beneficial for both parties.


Managing the studio and other artists

Depending on the artist’s seniority level, they might spend some of their days managing the business aspect of the studio. This is not the most exciting part of tattooing, of course, but it’s important to remember that tattoo studios are just regular businesses at the end of the day. This could involve looking at sales reports, managing online sales, and doing admin tasks.

Managing other artists could also be a vital part of a senior artist’s day. Younger artists may need more guidance and encouragement or even some help from older artists when doing a more difficult tattoo.


Promoting the shop 

Marketing is essential, no matter the industry you work in. This is especially true for tattoo artists, with the rise of social media and digital marketing. A good tattoo artist needs to be able to get business online and in person, so spending time on shop promotion is an essential part of the day for a studio team. 

Physical marketing can also be relevant to tattoo studios, depending on their style. Sticker bombing and other guerilla marketing techniques have become more and more popular with tattoo artists as of late.


Learning about art

With any art, it’s essential always to keep learning new techniques and reading up on subjects to keep yourself inspired and happy. Tattoo artists need to keep on top of industry trends and social media and find a way to keep themselves inspired, too. If an artist loses their inspiration and ends up doing the same thing every day, they run the risk of burning out.

Inspiration for drawings and tattoos can come from anywhere. Movies, TV shows, books, video games, music, and other pop culture sources are great places to start.


Training up apprentices

Experienced artists may have an apprentice or two in their studio, which can take up a decent portion of their day. Training an apprentice means working with them on hygiene and setting up stations, helping them learn to draw more effectively, and eventually teaching them how to use a tattoo machine.

Apprentices also tend to do other tasks in a studio, like cleaning, admin, and customer service. They tend to require daily assistance and mentorship from other staff members, especially at the beginning of their time working at the studio.


Answering messages

A final thing that an artist might spend their day doing is answering client messages. Emails can get overwhelming at a studio if left unchecked, as can social media messages and comments. Tattoo artists usually spend a good portion of their day answering messages from clients and booking people in to get a tattoo.


Overall   

As you can see, tattoo artists have much to do during their day. Unfortunately, they can’t just spend the entire day tattooing and drawing, as much as most of them might wish they could. There are so many different elements that make up a successful tattoo artist, ranging from business leadership and client management to social media marketing skills. 


If you’re an aspiring artist, try looking into gaining other skills like social media marketing or digital designing, networking, and customer service. Tattooing is an incredibly saturated market, so any skills that you can grab will help to set you apart from the competition. 

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