Tattooing Tips From One of LA's Most Successful Tattoo Artists

Updated on February 14, 2019
ViieraMonica profile image

I have about thirty tattoos and I like to get them all done in different styles, depending on my mood and current inspiration.

Artwork by Frank Lopez aka Joker. Tattoo artist based in Los Angeles, contact jokersgotink@yahoo.com.
Artwork by Frank Lopez aka Joker. Tattoo artist based in Los Angeles, contact jokersgotink@yahoo.com.

I have about thirty tattoos, and I like to get them all done in different styles, depending on my mood and current inspiration. When I'm looking for an artist to do my next project, it's always interesting how many artists say, point-blank, that they don't feel comfortable doing art like that.

My most recent tattoo artist, Frank Lopez, a.k.a. Joker, isn't like that at all. Although his favorite thing to do is jokers, he also realizes the importance of having an expansive style to accommodate his clients. This is how he became so well-known and respected as a tattoo artist. If you're a tattoo artist, it's something to take note of as well.

Tattoo Artist Tip #1: Be as Versatile as You Are Unique

Even if you feel nervous about doing calligraphy or portraits, work on them as much as you can when you aren't tattooing so you can expand your customer base (and abilities).

To truly stand out as a tattoo artist, you have to have both your own brand or style as well as the ability to tattoo other styles: black-and-white, portraits, old school, realism, full-color, and more. Eventually, you may be in a position where you can just tattoo the kinds of things you like, but to survive as an artist, you're going to have to expand.

Tattoo by Joker.
Tattoo by Joker.

Tattoo Artist Tip #2: Be a People Person, Anticipating Your Customer's Ideal Experience

Many people who go to the tattoo shop want a barber shop-like experience: comfortable, familiar, and relaxed. Especially if they're regulars, they want to feel as though you are easy to talk to and open up with.

If you're particularly shy or not really good at adapting to different personality types, tattooing will teach you to be more social because you're literally forced to do hour (or more) sessions on people who may be very different than the kinds of people you choose as friends.

Being a people-person will also bring you more business, and that's ultimately what you want as a tattoo artist—more and more canvasses to ink your legacies onto.

Follow @ta2joker on Instagram to see more of his art!
Follow @ta2joker on Instagram to see more of his art!

Tattoo Artist Tip #3 Attend Tattoo Expos and Come Prepared!

Another great way a tattoo artist can nurture his or her career is to attend tattoo expositions. Although it is an investment of time and money to register and set up, the return can be great—but only if you are prepared. There are many tattoo artists who just show up unprepared and end up losing money because they don't have a good portfolio put together, they run out of business cards, or they aren't adding personalized touches to their marketing like other tattoo artists do—such as bringing tattoo models.

Do I need to bring tattoo models to a tattoo expo?

A tattoo model can simply be a customer of yours who agrees to get a few big pieces done by you and walks around the expo passing out your business card, promoting you as they show off your art on their body. Or even having them sitting around where you're set up is a great conversation-starter when prospective customers ask who did the piece.

What else should I bring to a tattoo convention?

But first and foremost, you must be sure that when you enter that tattoo convention, you have ALL of your best work available for prospective customers to see. Don't bring half of your portfolio—bring your sketchbook and paintings, too, to give customers a sense of your range.

Put up personalized and priced flash art and practice beforehand so you can do as many tattoos as possible in the short amount of time you have. Of course, it would be great to get a few big pieces in, but sometimes a couple of small flash art pieces can help you recover from the tediousness of working on a larger piece.

Phoenix Body Art Expo 2019

Frank Lopez aka Joker will be featured at the Phoenix Body Art Expo February 2019! Be sure to register for the convention as the date is quickly approaching!

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