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.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Minimum Grade 9.


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.

P O Box 809
Houghton, 2041
46 & 48 Dunbar Street
Yeoville, 2198
Tel: 082 230 2255 Fax: (011) 388-1045

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

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