Body artist or tattooist

What they do

Body artists decorate their customers' skin using techniques such as tattooing, piercing and branding. While some body artists may perform a combination of techniques, many will specialise in one area, usually either tattooing or piercing. They consult with customers on the design, location and size of the artwork. When working with tattoos, they may create an entirely new design for a customer, modify an existing design or apply a design that the customer has developed. Body artists also advise customers on after-care procedures to avoid infection and help keep a tattoo looking its best.

Working conditions

Body artists work in clean, well-lit and sterile studios throughout Western Australia. They must maintain a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness, both for themselves and their clients. Equipment must be kept sterile and is often disposable in order to minimise the risk of spreading infectious diseases. Local governments are responsible for enforcing strict guidelines and regulations that apply to any premises where a person's skin is penetrated. Body artists must be comfortable dealing with people from a wide variety of backgrounds who seek tattoos, piercings and other forms of body art for a wide variety of personal reasons.

Tools and technologies

Body artists may use needles or specially designed guns (either for piercing or tattooing) to pierce a customer’s skin. Some body artists may also use scalpels to make larger openings or burn the skin using branding equipment; however, these techniques are not as common. All body artists must wear disposable gloves and wash their hands with anti-bacterial soap before and after piercing a customer's skin, gloves must be replaced and hands rewashed if there is a break in the work for any reason. They use disposable needles, which are replaced after each use, and they must also sterilise all other equipment using an autoclave steriliser. They may also use antibacterial spray and shaving equipment to prepare a customer's skin.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a body artist you usually need to gain extensive experience through on the job training with an established artist. You need to have a high level of drawing skill and a portfolio of designs.

 You may improve your employment prospects if you complete formal qualifications in drawing, visual art or design. Drawing, visual art and design courses are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

Browse courses through Jobs and Skills WA and search on the My Skills website to find a registered provider near you.

Opportunities for training may be hard to find and are often very competitive. You may need to travel to another city or interstate to find an established practitioner willing to offer training, especially for less common forms and techniques of body art, such as branding.

The duration of training can vary considerably depending on the technique you wish to learn, ranging from eight to 12 months for a body piercer and three to five years for a tattooist. Most body artists continue to learn and experiment with new techniques and art forms throughout their careers.

Some training providers may offer short courses in piercing; however, there is no accreditation for these courses. It may be a good idea to first talk to established practitioners or potential employers about which courses would be best.

 Learn more about your study options

Required registration and licensing

You may be required to hold a current Provide First Aid certificate before commencing training