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Written by Kieran Proctor

Can I Work Abroad As A Tattooist?



Can I work abroad as a tattooist?

Have you ever wondered whether you can work abroad as a tattooist? Well, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most common questions tattooists have. And it’s one key reason a lot of aspiring artists choose tattooing as a career.

The opportunity to work overseas is one key advantage tattooists have over other professions. Yet working overseas isn’t as straightforward as one might hope, but let’s delve into the complex world of international tattooing to uncover some insights.

The Allure Of Tattooing Abroad

The idea of traveling the globe while practicing your craft is enticing to many tattoo artists. The prospect of absorbing new cultures, meeting diverse people and broadening your artistic horizons presents a unique opportunity for both personal and professional growth.

Tattoo conventions, guest spots in studios and even private tattoo sessions in clients’ homes are common platforms for tattoo artists to work internationally. However, there are essential factors to consider when planning to tattoo abroad, such as visa requirements and adjusting your rates to accommodate the local economy.

Understanding Visa Requirements And Regulations

One of the first hurdles you’ll encounter when planning to tattoo abroad is securing the appropriate visas and permissions. Tattoo artists traveling to conventions or taking up guest spots in studios around the world, will need to understand the visa requirements of their destination country.

For example, tattooing at conventions across Europe is relatively straightforward for UK artists as there are currently no visa requirements within the EU. However, if you’re considering tattooing in America, you would need to apply for a temporary work visa to operate legally. Working illegally could endanger both the hosting studio’s business and your own, so it’s always advisable to stay on the right side of the law.

The best way to stay informed about travel and visa requirements is by visiting government websites and contacting the local authorities, studios or the tattoo conventions you’ll be working with.

Tattooing laws vary widely across different countries. While you don’t necessarily need a license to tattoo abroad, it’s vital to familiarize yourself with the local rules and regulations. This research can help ensure you’re compliant and avoid any potential legal issues.

Age restrictions are another critical consideration when working overseas. In countries like the UK, it’s illegal to tattoo anyone under the age of 18. However, in the USA, France and Germany, parental consent can allow someone under 18 to receive a tattoo. It’s essential to research the specific laws and customs of the country you plan to tattoo in, before you embark on your journey.

International Licensing And Certification

Different countries have varying requirements for tattooists, including licensing and certification. Before working abroad as a tattooist, ensure that you understand the specific regulations of your desired destination.

Some countries may require you to obtain local certifications or fulfill certain criteria to practice legally. Researching the licensing process and connecting with local tattoo communities can help you navigate these requirements effectively.

Adjusting Your Rates For An International Audience

When working abroad, adjusting your rates according to the local economy is crucial. Countries vary considerably in their cost of living and the price of tattoos can fluctuate significantly between locations.

Some studios may determine your rates, but it’s not uncommon for guest artists to set their own. Learning about the going rate in your destination country can help you decide what to charge.

Additionally, tattooing abroad can potentially lead to higher earnings. For instance, tattoo artists can make almost twice as much in the United States as they would in the UK.

Getting Paid Abroad As A Tattoo Artist

When you’re working abroad as a tattooist, you will need a way to get paid and to pay for your expenses while traveling. And using your foreign bank account or working only in cash aren’t viable options.

In most countries your foreign bank account will have all kinds of sneaky fees and charges that eat away at your earnings. And choosing to skip electronic payment methods will limit the places you can work and your potential client base. Plus carrying around huge wads of cash isn’t all that fun.

Take a leaf out of a ‘digital nomads‘ playbook and get a Wise online international bank account.

In under 2 minutes you can set up a Wise international bank account that works all around the world with their own linked Visa and ‘tap & go’ payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay, Android Pay). You can get paid for free internationally at the real exchange rate.

Building Your Reputation Internationally

Establishing a reputation in a foreign country can be challenging. People may not know who you are, so advertising that you are traveling abroad to tattoo is crucial. If you’re doing a guest spot, consider asking the studio owner to help advertise your presence to boost bookings.

You should also have an online profile and presence. Without an active Instagram showcasing your past works, it’s going to be much harder to get foreign clients.

Cultural Sensitivities And Artistic Styles

As a tattooist working in a foreign country, it’s crucial to be aware of cultural sensitivities and adapt your artistic style accordingly. Tattoos may hold different meanings or symbolism in various cultures and it’s essential that you respect and honor those cultural nuances.

Adapting your artistic style to cater to the preferences and cultural context of your host country can contribute to a successful and fulfilling international tattooing career.

Banned Tattoos Can Lead To Visa Cancelation or Worse!

In some countries, displaying banned images or iconography can lead to your visa being denied or canceled and potentially, land you in prison.

If you have any gang tattoos or any tattoos that reference hate groups or criminal organizations, you should remove them or cover them up. If you’ve completed any such tattoos for past clients and they are linked to you on social media, you should break those links before applying for a visa.

Tattoos that reference criminality or pertain to criminal organizations, gangs and hate groups can be used as reasons for denying you a visa, canceling your visa or potentially, charging you with a crime.

It’s not just past criminal records that can scuttle your travel plans. Simply being linked to a criminal organization through a tattoo can see your visa denied. So, get rid of them before applying for a visa!

The Impact Of Social Media And Technology On Tattooing Abroad

Social media and technology have significantly impacted the tattoo industry, making it easier for artists to showcase their work and connect with potential clients across the globe. Instagram, in particular, has become a popular platform for tattoo artists to display their work and announce their travel plans.

Regardless of the country or culture, a tattoo artist’s work speaks for itself. High-quality, unique designs paired with a professional and respectful approach can help overcome cultural barriers and build a solid reputation internationally.

Final Word – Can You Work Abroad As A Tattooist? Yes!

If you’re a tattoo artist wondering if you can work abroad — yes, you can. And you should definitely try to work abroad at some point in your career. It’s an opportunity to grow, learn and experience the world while practicing your craft.

However, it’s crucial to be well-prepared and informed before embarking on your journey. Just remember to research your destination and respect the local customs and laws, while adjusting your rates and approach to fit the local market.

Safe travels and have fun tattooing abroad!

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