How to build your artistic hallmark as a professional tattooist
Tips to enhance the value of your tattoos
09 May 2023
In the tattoo profession, you never stop evolving.
There's so much to learn and discover that everything you absorb from both your own experience and others' will be key to your training, but eventually, you'll need to stand out, work on what you want as an artist and grow as a professional. By then, creating your own tattoo style will be key.
Although building your personal artistic stamp is not easy, it can pay off on a personal and professional level.
That's why it's worth investigating what characterizes you as an artist and making an effort to discover the style that most resonates with you. Curious to know what are the advantages of doing so? Keep reading.
Advantages of developing your personal tattoo style
Boosting your knowledge and skills
When you embark on this profession, you need to start by learning how to tattoo a bit of everything to lay the foundations and know how to do it right. However, opting for a particular style allows you to go a step further by delving deeper into certain aspects that help you to gain expertise and master your speciality. In the end, closing the funnel of possibilities gives you a better margin to fine-tune the types of tattoos you do.
Knowing how to execute many styles on an average level is not the same as excelling at one.
Also, practice will help you gain speed and confidence, while adopting your own working methods. Which will eventually lead you to achieve better results in less time... a valuable factor.
Standing out from the competition
With the current tattoo boom, our profession is more thriving than ever and there's plenty of talent to spare. Today, everything is customisable and originality is increasingly in demand, even in our guild.
There's nothing more beneficial than developing your differential value to gain visibility and consolidate your position in the market.
If you manage to create your own distinctive brand, you'll be able to position yourself as a benchmark. Obviously, it won't happen overnight, but little by little, with perseverance and determination, it won't be difficult for your art to be recognised, even out of context.
Lowering cost and increasing profits
Choosing your own style has an impact not only on your technique but also on the inks, needles and machines you work with, as the tools and supplies are not the same for every style. Let alone other factors that influence the value of your work; if you are interested in finding out more, click here: Breaking down the salary of a professional tattoo artist.
Going back to style, when you are a generalist, you usually need a wider range of equipment. But as soon as you specialise in a particular style, you can cut down your list of tattoo essentials. Also, exclusivity tends to be worth more because something special, unique and unrepeatable doesn't cost the same as something mass-produced.
In other words, an original design of your own can mean a financial bonus.
In the long term, this is a significant advantage because it allows a higher appreciation of your work, which can help you to reduce your workload and free up your time to continue your training and improve your skills.
Unleashing your artistic potential
Like all art, tattooing is a form of expression that allows you to play with your creativity and expose your interests. As such, it’s a means of communication just like any other, except that its canvas is the skin.
Simple and small designs are very useful to gain experience while you practice, but when you grow as a tattoo professional, it will be essential to know how to make them more complex and adapt them both to your clients and to your tastes. In other words, eventually, it won't be enough to tattoo whatever comes along, nor to feel like a human printer.
Basing on your client's idea, exploring your creativity and giving it your personal touch will help you to stand out and reach artistic fulfilment.
Spreading your work and making yourself known
It's clear, everything that's unique, different and exclusive sells. Just think, when you see something new that you've never seen before, it catches your eye, doesn't it? In the same way, establishing a personal signature on your tattoos will help to capture the attention of those who relate to your style.
This translates into potential clients willing to get tattooed with you because your style resonates with them and they know you can deliver it.
Some people think that by settling on one style you close doors, but actually, it's quite the opposite. Instead, you define how you want your art to be, and that naturally attracts people who would not only have it on their skin but also recommend it, as it's exceptional and distinct from what they've seen.
Also, when your style denotes a distinctive and consistent aesthetic, your personal brand becomes more recognisable. Bear it in mind, especially when choosing what to publish, both in your portfolio and on social media. And as an extra tip, keep the ones you feel best represent you as an artist.
You've already noticed the benefits of building your personal tattoo style. Now, the big question is: how to do it?
Step by step to building your personal tattoo signature
There's not a single way. Your knowledge, experiences and virtues will help you define it. Just note that your own style is not something you figure out overnight, as it takes a lot of digging. It's a process that requires much research, trial and error.
However, to get to tattoo what you like, a couple of things can help you get on the right track. Stay tuned for the most interesting part.
1. Start by designing a bit of everything
Having your own style could sound like the idyllic dream of every tattoo professional, but you can't make the most of this profession without first consolidating the basics...
Starting out as a generalist is essential to build up practice, test your skills and gain confidence. This will be the first step in discovering how to do it differently and in your own way.
So, it's wise to start with simple, unpretentious and less risky designs. A good example of this is flash tattoos, or Walk Ins, as it's also known. Through this, you can research new techniques, add work to your portfolio to help you get clients, gradually make a name for yourself in the profession, and above all, gain experience to strengthen your skills.
2. Learn the basics of each style
To understand which style suits you best, you first need to explore all the possibilities available. Not only to know the rules, but also to eventually know how to break them.
There are many styles today; more than 40 among the traditional ones and their derivatives. It's not mandatory to learn how to perform them all —in fact, not all tattoo styles are recommended for beginners— but having a basic understanding of the different characteristics and techniques is fundamental, especially as a Realism work differs significantly from a Blackwork...
So, start by researching and getting into the whole art of tattooing. Investigate methods, trends, and keep an eye on other tattooists' work. It will help you get inspired and come up with new creation ideas.
- Pro tip: Did you know that our tattoo MasterCourses teach you all the methodology and technique from the experience of a Master? The smartest would be learning how to tattoo, with what tools and in which ways ;).
What if I have doubts about which style to choose?
Relax! Being versatile and knowing how to execute more than one style is very advantageous when you are just starting out, and you seek to land jobs to gain experience.
That is, even if you don't know which style you prefer, you can still seize the process to get clients. Focusing on this stage will help you to practice and gradually polish your style until eventually choosing the one you feel most comfortable with.
3. Dig into your personal interests and tastes
Once you are exploring the different styles and ways of executing them, it'll be useful to do some observational work. In other words, examine your designs and look for that distinctive quality of yours, whether it's an element that you repeat without realising it, a motif, a stroke, a shape, a range of colours, a texture, a type of filling or shading... anything that you feel characterises your tattoos and makes them yours.
Developing your personal style is a process of self-discovery, of identifying what you’re better at, what distinguishes you and what suits you best.
We could say that it's very introspective.
It's about expressing something of your own, be it a virtue or previous knowledge that can be adapted to your current trade, whether it's because you come from the field of architecture, fine arts, design, illustration, or similar... Any previous experience is valid and applicable to tattooing.
In the end, when it comes to developing your personal style, the main goal is that you enjoy doing it because it's not something forced, but rather something that comes naturally. Because it springs from you, and not from someone else.
4. Try all you can until you figure it out
Contrary to what many people believe, style is not sought after, it rather finds you.
It takes patience, perseverance, trial and error, research, time and tons of practice... But if you manage to focus on honing your technique and investigating different ways of solving your designs, eventually you'll strike gold, and you won't even doubt what your personal hallmark is. So, take your time and try out everything that calls you. Here are a couple of tips to guide you through the tattoo design process.
Above all, encourage your creative skills and experiment as much as you can on paper; it's the ideal canvas for exploring your artistic side, and it's where ideas flow best.
An essential skill to stand up for yourself as a professional tattoo artist is drawing because it provides you with tools and gives you creative freedom. Any tattoo artist who knows how to draw has the advantage of being able to tattoo any design they want. So, if you're still struggling with it, you'll want to learn drawing techniques in both traditional and digital media.
- Pro tip: Is there a common factor in your designs? Try this exercise: draw as much as you can without a specific purpose, and analyse your creations until you discover that one thing you repeat almost without realising it.
5. Enjoy and continue growing
This has been a simple recap of tips, but don't forget that there are many ways to develop your own style. After all, no one knows better than you what you want to achieve as a tattoo professional.
If you're excited about standing out with your art and being chosen not just because you tattoo, but because of how you do it, then you're already ahead of the game. But, if that's not your primary goal, and you're only interested in tattooing someone else's designs, then note that you probably won't develop a personal style.
In the end, your motivation will be the key to succeed in the tattoo world. If you work with enough aspiration, enthusiasm and commitment, it won't be difficult to earn your rightful place.
After all, only you will decide how far your style goes.
Just keep working on it, while continuing to explore new methods and alternatives because the journey doesn't end once you've reached your stamp, as you can always continue digging and evolving as a tattoo professional. As much as you like!
That's the beauty of this profession. You never stop learning, and there's always time to double the bet.
Still, the tattoo profession involves so much dedication that it can also be a double-edged sword. Making bad decisions can even lead to a bad experience working with your talent. So, as though as you give it your all, never forget to enjoy it! Loving what you do is the secret to turning your passion not only into a worthy livelihood but also into rewarding personal fulfilment.
And as a final advice, don't let the quest for your personal style steal your sleep. Pour all your energy into improving as an artist, and eventually, it will come to you alone.
Have you already started to develop your personal style? We hope these tips help you to do so. If you're interested in exploring your creativity, we'll soon be launching a full course on Blackwork, a style that lends itself well to this.
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