Tattoo artists generally train in tattoo shops during a period of apprenticeship under working tattoo artists, according to Education Portal. These apprenticeships are rarely free. Often, apprentices pay the artists to teach them or agree to provide free labor for the tattoo shop. An apprenticeship typically requires signing a business contract that stipulates the length of the training period and the tuition amount paid by the apprentice.
Karen L. Hudson at About.com writes that apprentices most likely have to seek out their own artists to apprentice under. Not all tattoo artists are willing to take on apprentices, and not all are effective teachers. Apprentices should begin by looking for a reputable shop in their area, bring their art portfolios with them and be prepared to answer job interview-style questions before artists decide to take them on for the apprenticeship.
Although not required for licensing, training in art history and studio art techniques are often useful for a tattoo artist. Veteran artist Lea Vendetta identifies a year of art school that she completed as one of the most important parts of her tattoo training. Art classes teach perspective, color theory and other techniques that are useful in creating tattoo designs and making a technically and stylistically impressive portfolio.