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Tattoos/Would college be a beneficial route for a tattoo artist?


Hello Sasha.

Firstly, I am sorry if you have been asked something similar before, and I am coming to you with something you've already given advice to.

 I just wanted to ask someone who successfully owns their own tattoo business what would be best. I am a High School graduate and looking for where to start to properly build my path to owning my own shop.

I am currently working on putting a portfolio together that would be taken seriously. I am just a little foggy on what the steps are, in order, to get to the spot where I own my own shop. I even have 18,000 saved up and counting.

Will going to college be a unnecessary asset or a waste in the long run?

I was planning on attending for Art and a degree in Business to further help me run my shop in the future. I just want to know the correct steps to take, and not waste any time doing it.

Thank you sincerely for your time and advice.


Running any business requires intense financial and management skills. Where you get these skills is less important. A business education would only be an asset in running a tattoo shop. It isn't required and if you can get the skills in another way, that is fine too. The same for an arts degree, it is vital to have the skills relating to color theory, perspective, and even basic drawing. Again, where you get these skills is less important, still I periodically take art classes at the local college to keep improving and learning.

I would start by getting an apprenticeship with an artist in your area. Working with a reputable, talented artist is invaluable for so many reasons that go beyond the basic info and education s/he can offer.  Learning tricks to placement and execution, judging needle depth and angle, design skills, cross-contamination prevention and safe practices, shop operation, client relations, problem solving in all areas of tattooing, just to name a few things learned in a good apprenticeship. I apprenticed for almost a year and a half and then worked under other skilled and talented artists to continue my education.  I continue to learn from every artist I work with.

I know it is a pain to get an apprenticeship, and it is lots of grunt work and little glamour, but it is a generations old tradition that will give you the skills and knowledge to be come a good artist I'd recommend visiting different shops and talk to different artists.  Talk to the tattoo artist who does your tattoos about how to get an apprenticeship.  If you haven't already, start a sketch book with drawings and sketches and practice drawing as much as you can.

Your question shows you are committed to doing as good work as possible, getting an apprenticeship is the best way to put you on the path to become the best artist you can. It is also a great way to learn the some of the business aspect as well. I would recommend working in multiple shops before opening your own as it is super helpful to see how different businesses function.

Good Luck.
Sasha Merritt


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Sasha Merritt - Professional Tattoo and Cosmetic Artist


Tattoo, Permanent cosmetics, Needling, Areola Repigmentation, Tattooing over Scars


I've been tattooing professionally for 10 years in shops in the US and England. I now own Dragonfly Ink in San Francisco, CA

Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals

Apprenticed at Black and Blue Tattoo Specialized training and certifications: Cross-contamination Prevention SofTaps Micropigmentation Areola Repigmentation Skin Needling University Art Courses

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