9 Common Tattoo Mistakes to Avoid as a New Tattoo Artist


U.S citizens spend at least USD1.65 billion every year on tattoos. The growing need for attractiveness and self-expression motivates many Americans to get tattoos.

Tattoo mistakes cause various complications like blowouts, keloids, scarring, and tattoo infections. Such complications will harm your clients’ skin health. Wrong tattoo design ideas can also make you lose more clients.

Having the right tattooing skills will help you meet and exceed the clients’ expectations. As a result, you will build the trust and loyalty of your clients.

Becoming an excellent tattoo artist requires knowing what not to do. Here are the nine common mistakes to avoid as a new tattoo artist.

1. Using Wrong Equipment

Wrong types of tattooing equipment cause various complications like bad shading. You will also not be perfect in your tattooing job with the wrong equipment.

Failing to use the right tattoo equipment means that you’re negligent. As a result, your clients can take legal action against you.

As a tattoo artist, take time to research the best tattoo machines and needles. Check the characteristics of each piece of equipment first. The equipment you choose must have high quality for the safety of your clients.

Check online for various types of equipment for tattooing. Getting recommendations from other experienced tattoo artists is also a good idea to do your research.

Tattoo equipment comes in three categories – tattoo machines, needles, and ink.

There are several types of tattoo machines you can choose from. Examples are rotary and coil tattooing machines.

The first tip for choosing tattoo machines is to check their material composition. Tattoo machines are made of iron, copper, or brass. Other considerations are budget, features, size, and shape of the machine.

Needles help tattoo artists easily deposit the ink on the client’s skin. The first options are round liner needles.

Round liner needles only deposit small amounts of ink on the skin. The needles are easy to use than other options.

Other types of tattoo needles are:

  • Round shader needles
  • Magnum shader needles
  • Flat shader needles
  • Double stack magnum shader needles

The size of the tattoo needles determines the level of lining one gets. So, confirm the diameter of the tattoo needles before buying them.

Tattoo inks have varying colors and prices. The two categories of tattoo inks are pre-dispersed inks and stable pigments.

Avoid using the wrong tattooing equipment and protect your clients today.

2. Improper Skin Preparation

As a tattoo artist, you are responsible for preparing your client’s skin for tattooing. Poor skin preparation increases the risk of various problems. For example, tattoo infections or loss of tattoo pigmentation.

A well-prepared skin also makes the tattooing process easier and more efficient. So how do you prepare your client’s skin for tattooing?

First, clean the skin thoroughly. Tattooing dirty skin increases the risk of allergic reactions and other skin problems.

The other tip is to keep the skin properly hydrated or moisturized. Hydrated skins are more resilient during the tattooing process.

Moisturizing your client’s skin will also make the tattoo ink lining easier. Excess hair on the client’s skin also interferes with the tattooing process.

Shaving the hair on the client’s skin is a way of preparing them for tattooing. Don’t also forget to apply a barrier cream on your client’s skin before tattooing. The cream protects the skin and reduces the risks of injuries.

You should also not ignore the client’s medical condition. Do not tattoo clients with skin problems like acne, melanoma, or eczema. Wounds, skin irritations, rashes, itches, and skin discolorations are signs that the client has skin conditions.

3. Working in Dirty Conditions

Tattoo artist jobs are sensitive since they involve dealing with the human body. Every tattoo artist must maintain hygienic standards in their workplaces. Cleanliness in tattoo shops will keep you and the clients safe from infections.

How can you keep your tattoo shop hygienic? The first tip is to clean the place regularly.

Wipe all the surfaces and disinfect them after tattooing every client. Use a viricide approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Cover the couch or bench used by the clients with shrink-wrap. Replace the wrap after every use.

The other tip is to wear an apron and disposable gloves and masks when tattooing your clients. The apron, gloves, and masks prevent any possible disease transmission.

Adequate lighting, ventilation, and non-slippery floors are essential requirements in any tattoo shop. The essentials prevent accidents and the spread of microorganisms. Your tattoo shop should also have:

  •  Hand washing detergent/liquid soap
  •  Two or three sinks
  •  Hand dryers
  •  Handwash basin
  •  Waste disposal bin

Always wash your hands before and after tattooing every client. Complying with such health standards will also protect you from possible legal issues.

4. Not Training

Tattooing is not a job that you will do without the right skills and expertise. Underselling your skills is a major mistake that will harm your clients.

The only way of becoming a tattoo artist is by going through the right training. Choose a professional tattoo artist to train you.

Research various experienced and reputable tattoo schools in your area before settling on one. A reputable tattoo school will also help you get established quickly after the training.

There are several things to learn when training to become a new tattoo artist. The first thing is how to draw. Perfect your tattoo drawing skills by learning various tattoo styles, art movements, and drawing techniques/methods.

The other thing to learn is about the human body. Understanding the human body’s anatomy will help you know the right places to tattoo.

Several things help beginners boost their tattoo artist careers. The first thing is working with a mentor to help you learn and practice new tattooing techniques.

The other tip is creating a good portfolio. Create your portfolio after acquiring a work license. Be willing to learn and practice new things during your tattooing career.

5. Failing to Consult

Imagine losing good clients simply because you never met their expectations. Failing to know what your clients want will be the cause of the problem.

Losing your clients is disheartening and threatening to your business. The only way to avoid the mistake is by consulting the clients before tattooing them.

Know the kinds of tattoo art and size they want. You can also advise the clients to help them make the best decision.

As a new tattoo artist, you may not be perfect in some complex tattoo designs. Be honest with your clients if you can’t tattoo them as they need. Honesty will build your reputation and give you room to perfect as you build your tattoo career.

6. Not Sterilizing the Equipment

Unsterilized tattoo needles and machines carry bacteria, germs, and viruses. The mistake can cause your clients to get infected with life-threatening conditions like Hepatitis B.

Several tips will help you avoid the mistake. First, clean your tattooing machines thoroughly. Use separate sinks to wash and rinse your tattooing equipment.

The next step after cleaning the equipment is sterilizing it properly. The disinfectant you choose must meet the set public health regulations.

The first sterilization method for your tattooing equipment is steam sterilization. The method is affordable because of less costly steam claves.

Gas sterilization is the other method you can choose for your tattooing equipment. The method utilizes ethylene oxide.

Unlike steam sterilization, gas sterilization is more expensive. Other sterilization methods to consider are cold sterilization and dry heat sterilization.

7. Using Illegal Tattooing Ink

Today, the market is full of counterfeit products. Unfortunately, tattoo inks are not exempted.

Illegal tattoo inks have harmful chemicals that cause health complications. Using them also risks getting your working license revoked and facing serious legal charges.

Several things will help you spot offensive tattoo inks. The first thing to pay attention to when buying the inks is the price. Avoid extremely cheap tattoo inks.

The other thing to check out is the labels. Illegal tattoo inks lack a legit FDA approval sign/stamp on their labels. Consult professional tattooists before proceeding to buy tattoo ink.

8. Not Following Up

Aftercare is essential customer service for your clients. Following up shows the clients that you’re concerned with their health.

One way to avoid the mistake is by providing aftercare advice to the clients. Secondly, have follow-up sessions to evaluate the progress of your clients. Proper follow-up and aftercare will help your clients’ tattoos heal quickly.

9. Tattoo Theft

The tattooing industry continues to grow every day. as a result, there is a steady increase in the number of new tattoo artist portfolios.

Unlike other fields, tattoo artists are not likely to have the same tattoo design ideas. So, copying the tattoo ideas from another portfolio is a mistake to avoid.

Stealing another tattoo artist’s work causes conflicts and possible legal issues. Clients will also not have a reason to visit your tattoo shop. Note that getting inspiration from another portfolio is not the same as tattoo theft.

Avoid These Tattoo Mistakes

The discussed tattoo mistakes will harm your clients and your tattooing business in the long run. You will also risk facing legal charges and losing your work license.

Avoid the discussed mistakes and build your tattooing career.

Hopefully, you enjoyed reading this article. Check out our other blogs for more information about tattoos.

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