Tattoo Artist

Tattooing has been practised by many cultures dating back to 200 BC. There are two types of tattoo artists: professional and amateur. The professional has a tattoo licence and provides a safe service.

Tattoo artists use an electrically powered instrument to inject the tattoo and the design is fitted with about seven needles that are placed in a needle bar. The tattoos are placed on various parts of the body.

Some people apply their own tattoos or obtain tattoos from a friend. This is the way in which an amateur will work. These tattoos are done in unhygienic conditions, using objects such as pens and needles, carbon, mascara and dirt.

Reputable tattoo artists do not tattoo minors without the written consent of their parents. Their work area must be kept clean and have sufficient lighting. Tattoo artists usually have a heat sterilisation machine that sterilises equipment after tattooing a customer.

Sterilised tattoo needles must be thrown away in a biohazard container after use. Ink should never be poured back into the bottle, it must be thrown away after each procedure. Tattoo artists need to use latex gloves before doing the tattooing on customers to protect themselves from infection. Good tattoo artists advise their customers on how to clean their tattoo to prevent infection.

Personal Requirements

  • a least 16 years old
  • artistic and creative
  • good eyesight
  • responsible and safety conscious
  • accurate and talented
  • able to work with people
  • able to calm nervous people

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Art or a related subjects is highly recommended
Recommended subjects: Art, Design Studies, Engineering and Graphic Design


  • An art portfolio is required to demonstrate your creativity, abilities and commitment.
  • If you intend studying towards a degree in Fine Art at university, you will need to a Bachelor's pass in matric. If you intend studying a diploma in an art-related field, then you will need a Diploma pass in matric.
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university or requirements set by the college.


What to Study

In-service training may be provided under the supervision of an experienced tattoo artist.


  • tattoo studios
  • self-employment, with enough experience, can set up own studio

Further Information

Further information can be obtained from tattoo artists.

68/1114 Wargrave Road
Henley-on-Klip, 1961
Tel: 082 230 2255

Getting Started

  • try practising different designs on yourself and friends, without piercing the skin and ensuring that you use safe inks
  • arrange to speak to professional tattoo artists about this type of career and ask to watch them at work

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

A PACE Career Centre Product. © All rights reserved | Developed by Netgen (Pty) Ltd. Disclaimer: Please see disclaimer