How to Become a Tattoo Artist in Utah – Licensure, Training and Running a Tattoo Shop

Utah has a vibrant tattoo culture that continues to grow in popularity and visibility. To legally tattoo clients in Utah, artists must complete specific training steps and earn state licensure. You too can learn how to become a tattoo artist in Utah.

This guide covers the steps and requirements to legally tattoo in Utah, open a shop, build your portfolio, and thrive as an artist.

Let’s get to it.

How to Become a Tattoo Artist in Utah

These are the steps you need to take to become a licensed and practicing tattoo artist in Utah.

1. Be At Least 18 Years Old

Utah requires tattoo artists to be a minimum 18 years of age. While some states allow younger artists, Utah legislation mandates artists reach adulthood before obtaining a tattoo license. This ensures artists have sufficient maturity to handle health regulations.

2. Get a High School Diploma or GED

Earning at least a high school level education demonstrates your core proficiency in subjects relevant to safely running a tattoo business. Math, science, reading, and communication skills translate directly into mixing inks, sterilization, consent forms, and interacting with clients.

3. Develop Strong Artistic Abilities

Hone your drawing and creative skills by taking art classes. Learn color theory, shading, proportion, line work, and composition. Understand principles of aesthetics. Mastering human anatomy is vital to creating natural, dimensional tattoos.

4. Complete Bloodborne Pathogen Training

Utah mandates all tattoo artists complete a bloodborne pathogen certification course from an approved training provider. Typically a 6-10 hour online or in-person class, covers safely handling biohazards like bloodborne illnesses in the studio.

5. Learn from a Licensed Tattoo Mentor

Utah requires aspiring artists to complete a tattoo apprenticeship under the supervision of a currently licensed artist. This mentorship trains you in proper tattoo methods, tools, workstation setup, laws, consent procedures, and aftercare recommendations.


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6. Log Specific Training Hours

Document your apprenticeship hours in a training log to satisfy Utah requirements:

  • 200 hours learning sterilization, CPR/First Aid
  • 400 hours practicing tattooing methods
  • 100 hours studying anatomy, skin diseases, law
  • Verify hours with signatures from your mentor

7. Submit a Tattoo License Application

Once you turn 18 and complete the above apprenticeship requirements, submit a new tattoo artist license application to the Utah Department of Health and Human Services. Provide your training documentation, ID, photo, and fingerprints, and pay the application fee.

8. Pass a Written Tattoo Exam

Applicants must take and pass a written exam covering health, safety, disinfection, and legal issues around tattooing. Study your training materials thoroughly to demonstrate mastery of responsible tattoo practices assessed.

9. Pass a Practical Tattoo Exam

In addition to the written test, applicants must pass a monitored practical exam tattooing on simulated skin. Execute a solid outline and shading to prove your sterile technique and competent use of tattooing tools.

10. Obtain a Hepatitis B Vaccination

Show proof you completed the full hepatitis B vaccine series. This safeguards you from occupational exposure to hepatitis B, an infection risk from needlestick injuries. Some apprenticeships facilitate getting vaccinated.

11. Renew License Annually

Utah tattoo licenses expire and must be renewed each year by submitting a renewal application and paying a fee. Renew promptly to continue legally working without gaps. Renewal demonstrates your commitment to ongoing learning.

12. Learn Key Business Skills

Take business classes to gain entrepreneurial knowledge. Study accounting, marketing, customer service, legal compliance, merchandising, and managing finances. Strong business skills ensure a successful shop.

13. Build a Portfolio

Photograph your drawings, paintings, and healed tattoos from apprenticeship clients. Curate a portfolio showcasing your tattoo styles and abilities. Share online and bring printed samples when applying to tattoo shops.

14. Maintain a Clean Studio

Keep your licensed studio up to current health codes for cleanliness, sterilization, waste disposal, bathroom facilities, zoning, etc. Display your tattoo license publicly. Only practice at approved business locations.

15. Conform Fully to State Laws

Beyond licensure, fully comply with all Utah rules about tattooing minors, informed consent, sales tax, etc. Laws and ethics evolve, so stay updated through trade groups and continuing education.

16. Join the Utah Tattoo Association

Affiliating with the state professional association keeps you engaged with legislation, events, education, and networking that supports thriving in Utah’s tattoo industry long-term. Find mentors and camaraderie.

17. Seek Feedback

Ask mentors, clients, and other tattooers for constructive criticism. Humbly receive input to improve technical skills, client interactions, and business practices.

These steps lay the groundwork to qualify for Utah tattoo artist licensure and thrive as a well-rounded tattoo professional.

Also Read: How to Become a Paramedical Tattoo Artist: [The Complete Guide]

 

Obtaining a Utah Tattoo License

Utah regulates tattooing strictly for health and safety. Licensing requires you to;

  • Complete State-Approved Training
  • Pass Written and Practical Exams
  • Submit a License Application
  • Meet Age and Training Requirements
  • Pass Inspections
  • Obtain Business Licensing

With dedication, you can meet Utah’s stringent requirements to earn your tattoo artist license after just two years of training.

 

Finding the Right Tattoo Apprenticeship

Choosing the perfect apprenticeship mentor is crucial for success in becoming a tattoo artist in Utah. Look for:

An Established, Licensed Artist

Select an experienced artist licensed in Utah with a legal, reputable shop and talented portfolio. Avoid underground mentors.

A Specialty Style You Admire

Find a mentor who excels at a style you want to master – realism, portraits, Polynesian, blackwork, etc. Learn directly from a specialty expert.

A Receptive Teacher

Choose a patient trainer who enjoys teaching and gives constructive feedback. Make sure they have time for hands-on apprentice training.

A Communicative Relationship

Find a mentor you respect but can also comfortably ask lots of questions. Clear instruction is vital.

Fair Apprenticeship Terms


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Iron out pay, schedule, duties, and policies upfront. Some mentors offer free training while others pay small hourly wages to assistants.

A Sanitary, Professional Shop

Only learn in a licensed shop meeting safety codes. You’ll pick up good hygiene habits.

Also Read: How to Become a Fine Line Tattoo Artist. [The Complete Guide]

 

What to Expect During a Utah Tattoo Apprenticeship

A Utah tattoo apprenticeship entails:

Observation Phase

Spend initial months carefully watching your mentor interact with clients and tattoo safely. Absorb their techniques, advice, and shop operations.

Menial Tasks

Take on shop cleanup, paperwork, scheduling, and supply stocking. Learn the administrative side of running a tattoo business.

Design Drawings

Practice designing custom tattoos for clients under your mentor’s guidance. Dramatically improve your art abilities through hands-on creation.

Fake Skin Practice

Master needling techniques, line work, and shading on fake skin. Get the feel for operating tattoo machines before working on live clients.

Client Consultations

Sit in on meetings between your mentor and clients to discuss design ideas and placement. Learn people skills.

Assistance During Live Tattoos

Help set up equipment, make stencils, wipe away ink and blood, and provide other assistance to your mentor during real sessions.

Licensed Supervision

Once skills improve, begin tattooing real clients while your licensed mentor watches closely to prevent errors and provide live feedback.

Portfolio Building

Photograph your training tattoos to compile a portfolio showing the capabilities needed to get licensed.

An apprenticeship provides immersive preparation for working independently as a professional Utah tattooist.

 

Setting Up a Tattoo Shop in Utah

Opening your tattoo studio in Utah involves:

Choosing a Business Structure

Decide whether to operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation. Consider liability protection and taxes. Consult an accountant.

Finding the Right Location

Research zoning regulations for tattoo shops in your city. Look for a permitted retail space with a welcoming layout, parking, and strong foot traffic.

Designing the Shop Layout

Map out where to place your tattoo stations, waiting area, reception desk, sterilization area and sink, bathroom, storage, etc. Create a stellar client experience.

Investing in Equipment

Buy quality tattoo machines, ink, tubes, power supplies, needles, autoclaves, medical supplies, furniture, advertising materials, and all startup necessities.

Complying with Health Codes

Follow Utah’s strict safety and sanitation regulations. Install required sinks, biohazard trash cans, sharps containers, and sterilization equipment properly.

Hiring Talent

As you grow, hire talented apprenticed artists to meet customer demand. Alternatively, rent booths to independent contractors.

Promoting Your Shop

Advertise your shop and artists on social media, Google, Yelp, local radio, and newspapers. Attend community events. Launch a website.

Handling Finances

Use POS software, keep excellent records, track income and taxes, take credit cards, monitor profitability, and implement strong money management.

Stick to all regulations and business best practices to open a thriving, legal Utah tattoo studio.

Also Read: Can You Become Amish If You Have Tattoos? Torn Between Ink and Simplicity

 

Building Your Tattoo Portfolio

As an aspiring or apprentice artist in Utah, build a diverse portfolio:

Photograph Tattoos Extensively: Capture your training tattoos from all angles in high resolution. Showcase line work, coloring, shading skills, and use of negative space.

Demonstrate Range: Include a variety of tattoo styles and themes – abstract, portraiture, minimalist, neo-traditional, etc. Showcase your versatility.

Feature Healed Tattoos: Wait 1-2 weeks until tattoos are fully healed before photographing. Healed results prove your skills better than fresh tattoos.

Shoot in Natural Light: Use soft window light or outdoor shade to accurately convey colors and details. Avoid flash.

Flatter Your Skill Level: Carefully curate your best 10-20 tattoos. Leave out any low-quality early attempts as you hone your abilities.

Seek Client Consent: Respect privacy by only including tattoos on willing participants who have signed release forms.

Display Physical Portfolios: Professionally print photos to display in hard copy at your shop and industry events in addition to posting online.

A diverse body of work in your portfolio proves skills and builds clientele as an aspiring Utah tattooist.

 

How to Get Tattoo Clients in Utah- Marketing Tips

Effectively market your Utah tattoo services:

1. Create a Website

Advertise your shop, artists, portfolios, contact details, and offerings through an engaging website. Allow easy client bookings and payments online.

2. Post Tattoo Portfolios on Social Media

Share portfolio images frequently on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and other apps. Use relevant hashtags and location tags to reach local tattoo fans.

3. Run Targeted Ads

Make short videos or image ads showcasing your tattoo styles. Geo-target potential new clients in your city using Facebook Ads Manager and Google Ads.

4. Offer Promotions

Provide intro deals like 20% off first tattoos. Run weekend flash sales. Offer holiday and birthday discounts. Implement loyalty programs for return clients.

5. Enter Tattoo Contests and Expos

Win awards at tattoo conventions to gain notoriety. Get exposure by attending tattoo expos throughout Utah and neighboring states.

6. Network Locally

Introduce your shop to other local businesses. Participate in the community by sponsoring local charity events and donating gift certificates.

7. Distribute Flyers and Merch

Print coupons, stickers, shirts, and other swag promoting your brand. Personally share flyers and business cards at nearby shops, cafes, colleges, and community hubs.

Persistent, multimedia marketing and networking maximize new client leads and cement your shop’s regional reputation.

Also Read: How to Become a Tattoo Artist in Arizona: [Licensed, Reputable, and Profitable]

 

Developing Your Tattooing Expertise in Utah

Always hone your skills as a practicing artist:

1. Strive for Photorealism

Practice dimensions, angles, lighting, textures, and detail work by recreating photos in drawings and tattoos. Mastery of realism sets great artists apart.

2. Take Continuing Education Classes

Enroll in advanced seminars and conferences to learn new techniques. Expand your knowledge and skills over an entire career.

3. Experiment with New Styles

Step outside your comfort zone! Broaden abilities by trying trendy styles like micro tattoos, sacred geometry, or pixel art.

4. Analyze Other Artists’ Work

Study tattoos by acclaimed artists in books, magazines, and online portfolios. Determine what makes their work so stellar to incorporate into your own.

5. Request Constructive Criticism

Ask mentors, clients, and other tattooers for honest feedback about your designs and techniques. Identify strengths to highlight and flaws to improve.

6. Practice Consistently

Tattoo-practice skins daily, even informally while watching TV. Repetition develops muscle memory and skills.

Dedicate yourself to continuous improvement throughout your Utah tattooing career.

 

Maintaining Safety and Compliance as a Utah Tattoo Artist

Follow regulations closely to avoid jeopardizing your licensure:

1. Renew License Annually

Pay your Utah tattoo license renewal fee by the deadline each year. Attend continuing education classes regularly to stay eligible.

2. Follow Bloodborne Pathogen Standards

Always use sterile disposable needles. Wear latex gloves. Disinfect tattooing areas. Properly sterilize tools between clients. Safely dispose of sharps/biohazards.

3. Adhere to Age Laws

Only tattoo clients age 18 and up with valid photo ID. Be wary of fake identification. Refuse service to minors.

4. Keep Records

Document client consent forms, health questionnaires, age verification, tattoo designs, and placement. Securely store records for required periods.

5. Post Required Health Notices

Display notices about risks, aftercare, and safe tattooing methods per Utah health regulations.

6. Allow Inspections

The health department may inspect your studio occasionally. Ensure continued compliance with hygiene, sanitation, and safety rules.

Consistently following body art regulations protects your licensure status, shop reputation, and client health.

 

Handling Finances for a Successful Tattoo Career

Any business that doesn’t manage its finances properly will eventually fade off. I’m guessing you don’t want to experience that. You can manage your tattoo shop finances by following these simple steps;

1. Setting Fair Rates

Research industry rates in Utah and charge based on factors like time, complexity, color, and detail. Don’t undervalue your work. Require deposits.

2. Accepting Various Payment Methods

Take credit cards, cash, checks, and mobile payments. Use secure POS hardware and software. Institute policies for deposits and cancellation fees.

3. Tracking Income vs. Expenses

Use accounting software to monitor business performance. Track income sources and overhead costs. Analyze sales patterns and profitability.

4. Managing Taxes

Consult an accountant about tax registration, filing quarterlies, and claiming deductions as a tattoo business. Report all income accurately.

5. Paying Employees

Issue paychecks correctly including payroll tax withholding if hiring artists instead of renting booths. Never pay cash under the table.

6. Budgeting and Cost Control

Set an annual budget benchmarking Expected costs and revenue. Control overhead without sacrificing quality or safety.

Meticulous financial organization and compliance ensure a smoothly run, sustainable Utah tattoo shop.

 

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve talked about how to become a tattoo artist in Utah, and we’ve seen that embarking on the journey to become a tattoo artist in Utah necessitates a combination of artistic talent, dedication, and adherence to the state’s regulatory framework.

By following a structured path that includes obtaining the requisite education, gaining practical experience, and staying abreast of evolving industry standards, aspiring tattoo artists can carve out a successful career in this dynamic field.

The unique regulations and licensing procedures specific to Utah underscore the importance of thorough preparation and compliance with local guidelines.

As the vibrant tattoo culture continues to flourish in the state, those who earnestly pursue their craft will find ample opportunities to leave an indelible mark on the thriving tattoo community in Utah

With diligent training, safety education, and practice under expert guidance, eager artists can achieve their dream of becoming licensed in Utah. Start the rewarding application process today and soon clients will be proudly wearing your Beehive State ink.

 

FAQ on How to Become a Tattoo Artist in Utah

 

How long does the entire licensing process take in Utah?

If you begin training as soon as you turn 18, expect the full process to take 1.5-2 years accounting for apprenticeship, exams, application, and license approval timelines. Move through steps efficiently to begin tattooing legally sooner.

Does Utah offer reciprocity for artists licensed in other states?

Unfortunately no, Utah requires all artists to undergo their full state-specific licensing process, regardless of existing out-of-state licenses. However, your experience may help you complete steps like the apprenticeship faster.

Can I tattoo while going through the Utah licensing process?

No, you must be granted an active tattoo license before independently working on clients, except under the direct supervision of your approved apprenticeship mentor. Unlicensed tattooing violates standards and risks significant fines. Wait to be fully licensed.

How much does a Utah tattoo license cost overall?

You should budget $300-500 for all associated costs like bloodborne pathogen training, the license application fee, written/practical exam fees, and first-year renewal. Renewals run $100 per year after that to maintain an active license.

How long is the Utah tattoo license valid?

Utah issues tattoo licenses that are valid for one year from the date of issuance. You must timely complete annual renewal steps like paying a renewal fee and affirming you still meet standards to receive a new 1-year license and continue tattooing legally.

How old do you need to be to get a tattoo in Utah?

Utah requires tattoo clients to be at least 18 years old. Minors cannot get tattooed even with parental permission. Tattoo artists who work with minors face fines and license revocation.

Can you tattoo out of your home in Utah?

No, operating a tattoo shop out of residential properties violates Utah health codes. All tattoo work must occur in state-licensed commercial studio spaces.

Does Utah allow temporary/guest tattoo artists?

No, Utah does not issue temporary or guest licenses. All artists must complete full licensure requirements even if tattooing in the state temporarily.

How much ongoing training is needed to renew my license in Utah?

You must complete at least 10 hours of Utah Health Department-approved continuing education courses annually as a condition of renewing your tattooing license every year.

How long are apprenticeships in Utah?

A minimum of 2 years and 3200 training hours are mandated, but longer 3-5 year apprenticing periods are common to fully hone skills before independent tattooing.

Can I tattoo with CBD infused ink in Utah?

No, Utah’s health regulations prohibit using any non-FDA approved “adulterated” inks, which includes infusing CBD, THC, or other compounds into tattoo ink.

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