Embarking on a tattoo career? Think you’ve heard all the advice there is to hear? Well I’m now 9 months in and there’s definitely some things that affected me which I didn’t see coming. Now sure, the following list, will hopefully all read like a ‘duh’ of course. But I’m telling you now, some things you just don’t know to think of until you’re already doing it. This isn’t to say that all tattoo artists have suffered with these. This is my personal account of the things I didn’t think to be aware of but significantly affected me.
1. Clingfilm. Yeah. Clingfilm. Now I am, as they say, 'a little cackhanded '. When you first start using large rolls of clingfilm to wrap your station, your green soap, your water and your client, you might feel like I did. It's important to tame the clingfilm so it becomes your best friend. At first I feared it was never getting better, but with a little self belief and encouragement from my mentor it all worked out in the end. My advice is for you not to worry if something isn't perfect or if you feel clumsy, just take a deep breath and relax.relax.relax. You'll be fine.
2. Hands. To date, this is the biggest hurdle for me. My hands, knuckles, fingers, and forearms hated me once I started tattooing real skin. I felt like a hammer had been swung against my knuckles every night after my first month on real skin. However, my hand on my tattoo machine did not feel as uncomfortable. It was my stretching hand. Stretching the skin for multiple hours a day just started to take its toll. This can develop into a serious issue if you are not careful. Carpal tunnel syndrome - google it. As a result, I had to start icing my hands every evening as well as applying balms and other remedies to help them feel better. The best advice I can give is to take care of your hands as early as possible. Take the time to stretch, massage, and ice them after sessions. It might sound dramatic but doing these things have started to help.
3. Back ache is an obvious one I know, but it does take a hit when starting to tattoo. My advice; get a good chair, good arm rest, good bed. Take breaks to stretch - while you’re there, drink some water. Exercise helps, it doesn’t have to be anything crazy, light yoga or even a good walk can help. Keeping our bodies active and moving when we’re not resting or tattooing is only ever going to help your back posture.
4. Skin / face, might seem a bit odd but I’m referencing this one due to your studio lights. Many artists use big and very bright ring lights, they’re good and right for the job, but boy can it blast your face for hours, and I’ve definitely found my skin feeling less healthy when it has to be directed pretty straight at me. I’m personally considering the head light to see if that experience could help.
Overall, I have loved the journey to becoming a tattoo artist, yes there are hurdles along the way but it is all worth it when doing a career you are passionate for and love.