How To Expand Your Artistic Horizon

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As a tattoo artist, you are used to delivering art on demand. Almost every day you create a new piece of art according to your client’s rough ideas or prepare your own flashes. Most of the time, this is a lot of fun. But there are times when your inspiration and idea stream runs dry, even though you really need to press ahead. At this point, you’d like to know how to expand your artistic horizons as a tattoo artist. In our Advice Hub article, we show you some ways to find inspiration and expand your artistic horizons with different approaches.

  1. Take Art Classes
  2. Do Something Different
  3. Try New Things
  4. Free Your Mind
  5. Get Inspired by Others
  6. Take a Look Around You

1. Take Art Classes

Taking art classes might sound a bit odd, uncool, and generally, not fun. But it is absolutely the opposite. Most tattoo artists are self-taught and have been drawing for almost all of their life. Why should you take the plunge and let somebody teach you how to draw or paint? Because you want to improve yourself. That’s why.

Paint brushes aligned

Taking lessons will help you get a structured approach to getting better at tattooing. You won’t sit down and read books about art as you did in school, but you will create art under the supervision of a professional. And this professional will look at your skills as an artist with a different perspective. They will point out your weaker skills that you may not be aware of and they will help you to improve them. They can guide you to become a better artist and therefore become a better tattoo artist. Your new skills will sure enough help you in creating your daily tattoo art.

2. Do Something Different

Trying new things never hurt anybody, right? Well, actually it did. But this won’t hurt you.

If you want to expand your artistic horizon, it can help to just let go of your everyday art and do something different. Take some time off tattooing and devote yourself to another field of art. Be creative and start playing an instrument perhaps? This will help you to stimulate the same regions of your brain that you use for painting and drawing – and of course tattooing. You will notice that learning a new instrument or improving your rusty guitar skills is a lot of fun and helps you to become more creative.

Hands doing pottery

Another great thing is to get into ‘plastic arts’. Do some pottery or soapstone carving. Working with three-dimensional objects will help you understand more about perspectives and dimensions. And that, in turn, will help you improve your skills as a tattoo artist.

3. Try New Things

When was the last time you tried something new? Try a new technique (preferably not directly on a client, of course) that you’ve always wanted to learn. Even if it’s not for you, you’ve learned something that will definitely benefit your art at some point. And if the technique fits your style, all the better! Then you can add it to your repertoire and perfect it to try it out on your clients.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be just a new technique. You can also change your setup a bit. Instead of working with different greywashes, try making your own greywashes by diluting black tattoo pigment. Or mix ink colours to create your very own colour palette that you can incorporate into your style. Eternal Ink is great for mixing tattoo inks.

You could try your hand at a new style. Do neo-traditional? Then try linework. Do Realistic? Try cartoon/comic and so on. Trying new styles will help you broaden your artistic horizons and you’re sure to come up with one or two new ideas as you try them out.

4. Free Your Mind

That’s easier said than done – isn’t it!? A clear mind is a creative mind.

So, take action to get all the stuff out of your brain. Practice meditation to clear your mind of all the noise that is buzzing around inside you. Or take to yoga to give you a new sense of freedom and lightness. Along the way, your body will be exercised and stretched. You’ll learn to know exactly how much you need it after a day of tattooing and feel the many benefits of it too.

Feng Shui stones that represent inner balance

If meditation isn’t your thing and you’d rather have a little more action to clear your mind, you can also do sports. A short but hard workout or a long run will do the trick but any other sort of physical activity will also help to clear your mind. It can be something as mundane as chopping wood or playing a game of tennis with your friends.

If that’s still not radical and action-packed enough for you, you can even go one step further. How about a skydive or bungee jump? Or a round of wakeboarding on a lake near you?

If you’re not the active type, you can also relax passively, for example by going to a spa or treating yourself to a massage. Or simply read a book, which can also be very relaxing.

All of these activities will help you clear your head and get you back on track. And once your head is clear and light, creativity ooze right out of you!

5. Get Inspired by Others

Sometimes it helps to learn something from someone else. This does not mean that you should copy someone else (as an artist, you shouldn’t do that at all), but if you look over the shoulder of another artist, you can learn a lot.

What do they do differently from you? What do they do better, what worse? You can learn a lot about yourself from watching them and pick up a trick or two that you can apply to your art.

It doesn’t even have to be another tattoo artist, you can also watch a painter and compare how he builds up his picture in contrast to you. Is there something you haven’t thought of yet that can take your art to a new level?

Many great artists have been inspired by others and have gained new insights into their own work. Don’t miss out on this.

6. Take a Look Around You

No really, look around. There is so much more to see than you think. Almost everything around you can be inspiring.

Look closely at the things around you, every single aspect. The colours that shift slightly in different light and viewing angles. Your perception of objects depending on how you tilt your head or how close or far away you are from them. How can you best capture your impression?

A different perspective on trees from below

Of course, it is more inspiring to go out into nature and look at the different plants, trees and animals. They all have something perfectly imperfect. But also your home, other people or the city can open up new perspectives if you capture them.

All this can help you to get new inspiration. By broadening your horizons and trying new things, changing the way you look at things or giving your old routines a new lease of life, you can develop as an artist. Of course, this should not be a one-time thing, but an ongoing process. Because only through development and progress can you enjoy your passion for a long time.

Don’t forget, you create a new piece of art almost every day.

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Chris Harrison Tattoo Artist

Chris Harrison

Bridgend Tattoo Studio

Bridgend, South Wales, UK

Sneaky-Mitch, tattooist at Gold Room Tattoo, Leeds, UK


Gold Room Tattoo

Leeds, UK

Tito Inkid

L’Atelier Sans Nom

Armentières, France

Lianne Moule

Immortal Ink
Chelmsford, UK

Julian ‘Corpsepainter’ Siebert

Corpse Painter Tattoo
Munich, Germany

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Empire Ink
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

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