How I got my job... as a tat­too artist

CLARA SIN­CLAIR is known for her or­na­men­tal draw­ing style. Here, she ex­plains how to start a ca­reer in ink...

Cosmopolitan (UK) - - Earn -

Ex­per­i­ment with jobs

When I was younger, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I tried a bit of ev­ery­thing – bar work, hair­dress­ing, work­ing in a gar­den cen­tre.

I’d been draw­ing since I was able to pick up a pen, but I never thought of tat­too­ing as a ca­reer un­til I got my first tat­too aged 20. Then I com­pletely fell in love with it. I’d stud­ied pros­thet­ics at univer­sity, so it was an easy tran­si­tion into tat­too­ing. When ap­ply­ing pros­thet­ics, you have to view the body as a can­vas – and it’s the same with ink.

At age 23, I em­barked on an un­paid tat­too­ing ap­pren­tice­ship, which took two years to com­plete. I did ev­ery­thing from mop­ping the floors to help­ing on the front desk. I worked 20 hours per week in the tat­too stu­dio and the rest of my time was spent work­ing in a bet­ting shop, which I hated, so I could earn enough to pay the bills. Work­ing in ter­ri­ble part-time jobs re­ally added fuel to the fire – I was des­per­ate to start tat­too­ing full-time, so it kept me mo­ti­vated. ➤ If you don’t ask, you don’t get I’m cur­rently self-em­ployed and rent a chair at The Fam­ily Busi­ness Tat­too Par­lour in Lon­don’s Ex­mouth Mar­ket. It’s got a great rep­u­ta­tion and loads of artists that I love. I plucked up the courage to ask the owner if I could work there. I sent him my port­fo­lio and, luck­ily, he liked it.

Tak­ing the leap into self-em­ploy­ment was scary, but it gives me a lot more free­dom. I can take time off when I want to and work the hours that suit me (I tend to work 12pm to 7pm). It’s the best move I’ve ever made. ➤ In­sta­gram is your CV So­cial me­dia has had a hugely pos­i­tive im­pact on the tat­too in­dus­try. It’s opened peo­ple’s minds re­gard­ing tat­toos – they’ve def­i­nitely be­come more main­stream.

Be­fore, tat­too artists re­lied on word of mouth, but now cus­tomers fly from all over the world to be tat­tooed by me be­cause they’ve seen my work on In­sta­gram. I’ve even trav­elled to dif­fer­ent coun­tries to tat­too at Star Wars con­ven­tions. I was one of 20 peo­ple cho­sen glob­ally and won an award for a big chest piece of Darth Vader, Boba Fett and a Stormtroop­er. I’ve de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion on­line for my par­tic­u­lar or­nate style. I now have 28,500 fol­low­ers.

To make my pho­tos look good on In­sta­gram, I add a vignette shadow around the edges, so that the fo­cus is com­pletely on the piece. But don’t heav­ily edit pic­tures of tat­toos – it can create a false idea of what they re­ally look like.

Clara, 32, from Leeds

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