Tattoo Artist


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Service or PersuadingArtistic or CreativeSkill Level 1Skill Level 2Skill Level 3

Tattoo Artists decorate their customers' skin using techniques such as tattooing, piercing and branding. Future Growth Very Strong

While some tattoo artists may perform a combination of techniques, many will specialise in one area, usually either tattooing or piercing.

They consult with customers on the design, location and size of the artwork. When working with tattoos, they may create an entirely new design for a customer, modify an existing design or apply a design that the customer has developed. Tattoo artists also advise customers on after-care procedures to avoid infection and help keep a tattoo looking its best.

ANZSCO ID: 451814

Alternative names: Body Artists, Tattooist,

Knowledge, skills and attributes

A tattoo artist needs:

  • a high level of creative and artistic ability

  • good interpersonal skills and the ability to keep customers calm and at ease

  • good hand-eye coordination and steady hands

  • to be comfortable with needles and the sight of blood

  • a high level of personal hygiene

  • to be able to maintain concentration and focus for long periods of time

  • a responsible attitude to work (to eliminate the risk of transmitting blood-borne viruses).

At Work


Duties and Tasks

  • Explains tattooing procedure to client.
  • Ensures client is certain about wanting a tattoo.
  • Helps the client chose an image, interprets the client's ideas to form a suitable image, copy or design image for the client, resizes image to fit the body part it is going on and makes a stencil of the image.
  • Shaves the area being tattooed and applies disinfectant to the skin.
  • Puts the stencil on the skin to ensure it fits with the body part.
  • Solders the group of needles onto the needle bar.
  • Draws the outline, colouring and shadowing of the tattoo with inked needles.
  • Applies cream and antiseptic covers to the finished tattoo.
  • Tells clients how to properly care for the tattoo.
  • Ensures all sterilisation equipment is kept in good working order.
  • Ensures the studio and equipment meets with sterilisation, waste management and health and safety standards.
  • Trains people.

Working conditions

Tattoo artists work in clean, well-lit and sterile studios throughout Australia. They must maintain a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness, both for themselves and their clients. Equipment must be kept sterile and is often disposable in order to minimise the risk of spreading infectious diseases.

Local governments are responsible for enforcing strict guidelines and regulations that apply to any premises where a person's skin is penetrated.

Tattoo artists must be comfortable dealing with people from a wide variety of backgrounds who seek tattoos, piercings and other forms of body art for a wide variety of personal reasons.Drawing

Tools and technologies

Body artists may use needles or specially designed guns (either for piercing or tattooing) to pierce a customer’s skin.

Some body artists may also use scalpels to make larger openings or burn the skin using branding equipment; however, these techniques are not as common.

All body artists must wear disposable gloves and wash their hands with anti-bacterial soap before and after piercing a customer's skin, gloves must be replaced and hands rewashed if there is a break in the work for any reason.

They use disposable needles, which are replaced after each use, and they must also sterilise all other equipment using an autoclave steriliser. They may also use antibacterial spray and shaving equipment to prepare a customer's skin.

Education and Training

To become a body artist you usually need to gain extensive experience through on the job training with an established artist. You need to have a high level of drawing skill and a portfolio of designs.

You may improve your employment prospects if you complete formal qualifications in drawing, visual art or design. Drawing, visual art and design courses are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Australia.

Opportunities for training may be hard to find and are often very competitive. You may need to travel to another city or interstate to find an established practitioner willing to offer training, especially for less common forms and techniques of body art, such as branding. The duration of training can vary considerably depending on the technique you wish to learn, ranging from eight to 12 months for a body piercer and three to five years for a tattooist. Most body artists continue to learn and experiment with new techniques and art forms throughout their careers.


Some training providers may offer short courses in piercing; however, there is no accreditation for these courses. It may be a good idea to first talk to established practitioners or potential employers about which courses would be best.

​You may be required to hold a current Apply First Aid Certificate before commencing training.


Did You Know?

The Conversation

You’re probably familiar with how tattooing works: coloured ink is deposited via needles into the dermal layer of skin. But you’re probably less familiar with the process for having it removed: laser therapy.

Lasers work by generating a beam of light of a specific frequency. The intensity of the beam can be varied, as can the frequency – which changes the colour of the laser – and the duration of the light pulse. The laser beam will release energy selectively when it hits a target of a specific colour.

Lasers are used to break down ink particles so that they can then be removed by the cells of the immune system. If the intensity of the laser energy is too high, there will be collateral damage to the surrounding skin that will produce a scar. If the intensity is too low the ink particles will not be disrupted.

The pulse duration is also important. When the tattoo pigment absorbs the laser energy it releases heat as the particle explodes. Rather than fire a single beam at the target, laser tattoo removal works best when multiple high-energy, millisecond or nanosecond pulses are fired repeatedly at the target. This allows any heat generated in the pigment explosion to dissipate before the next pulse hits. It reduces pain, and reduces scarring.
(Source: The Conversation)

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