Starting Your Freelance Career as a Tattoo Artist

There are over 30,000 tattoo artists in the U.S. as of 2022. This number has increased by 7.9% since 2021. As more and more tattoo artists emerge, your primary focus should be standing out, especially if you’re entering the competitive freelance market.

Building brand awareness is vital if you’re hoping to begin a budding career as a freelance tattoo artist. Here are six brand-building tips to help you start your career as a freelance tattoo artist.

Understand Your Customer Base

Building a freelance business in the tattoo industry isn’t easy. Many tattoo artists who attempt a freelance career don’t thrive because they don’t know how to market themselves and stand out in a sea of successful tattoo artists.

That’s where building a personal brand and increasing brand awareness come in. When you know who you are, whom you want to serve, and why, you can use that information to create a freelance brand that attracts ideal clients.

But first, you must define your ideal clients and study the market. You must also understand why your ideal clients get tattoos, gravitate toward certain artists, and the marketing content they resonate with most. Once you understand your customer base, you can build brand awareness by offering them personalized experiences that will help you stand out even more as a freelance tattoo artist.

Offer More Than Tattoos

As important as providing your clients with amazing tattoos is to your freelance career, you’ll have a better chance of fast-tracking your success if you offer more than just tattoos. Think about the services you can offer aside from quality tattoo work that will set you apart from other freelance tattoo artists.

For example, consider becoming a tattoo removal specialist adept in laser therapy so that you can offer tattoo removal services in addition to tattooing. As the demand for tattoo removals grows, you can capitalize on it by making this service a key component of your brand. The more services you can master as a tattoo artist, the more unique your freelance brand becomes.

Develop Your Personal Style

Developing your personal style is also critical in developing a strong brand as a freelance tattoo artist. Copying everything about another tattoo artist’s style is a surefire way to either garner the wrong attention and diminish your reputation or blend in and halt your brand’s growth.

Instead, develop your personal tattooing style. Of course, you can take inspiration from other tattoo artists. But it should stop at inspiration. Think about touches you can add to your style that will help clients recognize your work no matter whom it's on. It’s also essential to let your personality shine when presenting your work and yourself to the public. Your personality will set you apart as a freelance tattoo artist more than most things.

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Create a Portfolio of Your Work

As you tattoo more clients, creating a portfolio of your best work is integral. When you have a portfolio to share your best tattoos and reviews with potential clients, it’s easier to make a name for yourself as a freelancer. You have something to back up all the good service you say you can provide.

Take photos of every tattoo you do. Ask each client’s permission to use the pictures in your portfolio if you choose to. You should also ask each client to leave a review of their experience with you so people can get a glimpse into your brand experience.

Once you create a polished portfolio of your work, complete with reviews, house it on your website.

Consider Creating a Website

A website is like the home base for your freelance career. People who want to view your portfolio and learn more about you and your services will likely search your website to do so.

Your website is often the first impression of your brand, so make it a good one. Ensure you have consistent visual branding elements, like your logo and color scheme, across all your web pages. Navigation should be seamless. Your portfolio, contact information, and business vision should be prominent. Use it as a highlight reel of your best tattoo work that you want to continue doing in the future.

Grow Your Social Media Presence

Social media is integral to becoming a successful freelance tattoo artist. Not only can you showcase your work and drive traffic to your website, but you can also build relationships with ideal clients and network with other tattoo artists.

The first step is creating a social media marketing strategy. Identify your social media presence goals and how you will track your progress toward those goals. You’ll also want to choose the right platforms to build a presence on. Be sure your customer’s frequent them and that they’re geared toward visual content.

Then, focus on creating and distributing original content. Aside from static images of your tattoo work, make videos of how you approach tattooing. Go live to answer client questions. And share honest accounts of how your freelance career is progressing.

Finally, engage with your followers, current and potential customers, and other tattoo artists. Answer every comment and direct message. Acknowledge client shoutouts. Comment on other tattoo artists’ work as well. This will all contribute to your personal brand that separates you from the pack.


There’s nothing easy about starting a freelance tattoo career. However, if you want to work for yourself instead of a tattoo parlor or company, implement the tips above to establish your personal brand and distinguish yourself as a top-tier freelance artist.