Advice for the New Tattooist.

Tips for the Freshman Tattooist.

Its has been said that you haven’t been tattooing until your fifth year is complete. This is when you get to see your old tattoos healed. It takes that long for your tattoos to settle. Until then, your first 5 years are very important.

Here is some advice. Take it or leave it, but it comes from the heart and my love for tattooing.

Find a mentor, someone who you respect and has achieved what you want. Keep in touch with them and use them a guide. Tattooing has plenty of distractions. It can be hard to stay the course. Many artist look around after 10 years of tattooing and wonder why they feel stuck. Tattooing can be very rewarding but it can also be a trap.

Write a five year plan for yourself. Imagine where you want to be and what you want out of your career. See yourself as the person you would like to be. This is an old tactic that works. The direction you are pointed is where you will end up. So figure out where you want to be and get there.

Take the long way. This is a journey of your career. Enjoy it and savior every learning experience. Success is not rushed. Aligning yourself in the shadow of your idols will not give you a winning edge. Instead, figure out how they work and what their systems are. It is my experience that people who get lots of sleep, who are constantly prepared and who genuinely appreciate their clients have much happier career.

Be responsible for your actions. Know that what you do affects people for their entire lives. Never do a tattoo because it is funny to manipulate a customer. They trust you to make clear headed decisions. Do not take advantage of a customers nervousness and inexperience. In time they will mature enough to wise up to your antics.

Save your money. The best piece of advice that was told to me was ,”Pay yourself First”. Start with 10% of your take home money. Build up a nest egg that equals three months living expenses. After that start investing. Build a retirement fund. Wealth is defined as “how many days can you live without working” It is never to early to build your wealth. It will save you from tattooing out of desperation.

Practice humility. As a tattooist, we are in a bubble of confidence and appreciation. Everyone we tattoo laughs at our jokes and loves our advice. Wether we are discussing politics or good food, rarely will people disagree with the tattooist. Don’t let this get to your head. I have taken on roles in my life that put me back into a learning position. For me it is humbling. Once you think you know everything, you are dead in the water.

Take it or leave it. The above is my advice to help you. Which leaves me to the last point I would like to mention. Constantly put yourself in a position to help others. This is not about you. Your role will be very rewarding if you remember this. You are helping others to mark their way in life.

-Matt Hodel

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