How to Create an Impressive Tattoo Artist Portfolio

Regardless of whether you're an aspiring tattoo artist or a veteran looking for a new studio, your portfolio is the most important thing, and should be as impressive to those viewing it as possible.


  1. Image titled Create an Impressive Tattoo Artist Portfolio Step 1
    Buy an attractive portfolio folder. While you might have a website or a Pinterest page this probably isn’t going to be enough to really impress an artist. Make sure you have something that is big enough to hold your drawings and sketches. Something with a hard cover will help to protect your artwork, and either leather bound or with some sort of attractive decoration; as these make them more visually appealing. The more professional looking your presentation the more the tattoo studios are going to take you seriously as a potential artist.
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    Offer a variety of different types of art, to demonstrate an ability to work with different mediums. Offer some artwork using pencils, chalks, crayons, felt tips, inks, charcoal, paints and digital tools at the very least. You should aim to have a minimum to two pieces of artwork in each medium within your portfolio – bonus points if you produce the same piece in more than one medium (for example reproducing the same portrait image three or four different times, using charcoal for one, pencil for another and water colours or inks for another one or two). Watercolours or inks and pencils should have more examples, and the mediums you are most confident using can be an opportunity to show off a wider variety of your artwork.
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    Offer a wide variety of subjects. As a tattoo artist you will have to create and design all sorts of images for all sorts of customers. There will be some who just want a portrait replicated from a photo reference, and others who want you to create huge, colourful and imaginative pieces from scratch. You should be capable of demonstrating a variety of different artworks, not just the mediums but the subjects too. Ensure that your portfolio contains artwork of people, animals, flowers, skulls, and a variety of decoratively created symbols, both with colour and without. Skulls, dragons, butterflies, stars, hearts, roses, pinup girls and so on are all very commonly requested tattoo designs – so think ahead and demonstrate an ability to produce these designs.
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    Clearly present your style within your portfolio. You should have a well-developed artistic style if you’re looking to be a tattoo artist. However, you should be able to produce tattoos in a variety of styles. Try creating a page in your portfolio that offers a tattoo design you have created; something fairly simple like perhaps a skull or dragon. Then demonstrate how this might be recreated in different styles to suit different customer preferences; commons styles include Celtic, neo traditional, tribal, realistic, Japanese, black and white, colourful – there are no shortage of ways you can demonstrate different tattoo styles. Spend some time playing with them.
  5. Image titled Create an Impressive Tattoo Artist Portfolio Step 5
    Show the stages of your work. If you’ve created a portrait piece include the photo reference you worked from. If you’ve created a completely new fantasy piece include your initial sketch work. For a tattoo artist it is important to see how you have built your work up and how you arrived at the final results. This can help them to identify your strong points, and may help them give you pointers as to where you might be making mistakes in the process. It also allows them to see how you might adapt to creating work on the skin. Show some unfinished work and pages of anatomy sketches within your portfolio, as well as completed work – this allows the tattooists you’re applying to work for to see that you take every aspect of the art seriously, and demonstrates a desire to improve – artists love that.
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    Include a page, or even a few pages, of flash tattoo designs that you have created at the pack of your portfolio. Flash designs are generally simpler tattoo designs that will be reproduced again and again on any customer who wants them. This not only allows the artist to see what sort of tattoo designs you might produce if you started working for them, but it also gives you the opportunity to leave some of your work with the artist. For example – if you leave a page of flash with the artist, and they suddenly get a lot of customers wanting the designs that you have produced, chances are you’re going to get a call, and they’re going to want you to work with them.
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    Create a visual CV. You’re not going to get offered a job while you’re there showing your portfolio, chances are they will want a CV from you, which will sit to one side until they are ready to take on an apprentice or new artist. The CV, like a CV for any other job, should include your name, experience, educational history, employment history, contact information, a little bit about yourself and a few smaller images (photos, scans or copies) or your best work.
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    Your portfolio is now complete! Get yourself out there and share it with tattoo artists around you. You may want to look up some information regarding how to become a tattoo artist – which will help you to understand the right way to approach artists and present yourself as a prospective tattoo artist.


  • Do not tattoo anyone or show tattoos you have done if you are not a qualified or registered tattoo artist.

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Categories: Resume Preparation | Tattoos and Piercing