According to About.com Tattoo, Becoming a tattoo artist follows a similar career path to most other specialized trades: It typically requires true artistic talent, a portfolio showcasing the work of the artist and a long-term apprenticeship with an established tattooist. This process can range anywhere from one to several years, depending on the person's drive and ambition.
If a person has a talent for art and feels that his designs lend him to becoming a successful tattoo artist, About.com recommends that he begin first by building a fairly extensive binder to exhibit his drawings. Working as a tattoo artist is not quite as simple as applying for a job at a tattoo shop. It requires a bit of luck in finding a reputable and established tattooist who is willing to take on an apprentice for a protracted period of time. This is an undertaking and a commitment for both the student and the teacher.
An apprenticeship focuses less on the artistic aspect of the job and more on teaching the student the ins and outs of the business, such as: properly cleaning equipment, interacting with clients and operating the tattoo machine. The apprentice learns to minimize the risk for transmittable diseases and how to apply the actual tattoos.