How I became a tattoo artist with my own studio

Aimee Luckham, 31, lives in Chichester, West Sussex. She is a tattoo artist and owns The Electric Lady tattoo studio.

Aimee Luckham, 31, lives in Chichester, West Sussex. She is a tattoo artist and owns The Electric Lady tattoo studio.

I opened The Electric Lady in 2016 as I was always creative and knew I wanted to do something artistic as a job.

I also knew I wanted to work for myself. After I finished college I was still unsure of exactly where I wanted to go career-wise, so I went to university. But after a month I knew it wasn’t for me.

I wanted to start my career, so that pushed me to sit down and evaluate what I wanted and what jobs I would like to do, I’d always loved tattoos and had been interested in tattooing, so I decided to go for it and I spent a year putting together a portfolio and did my research into the industry.

How I became a tattoo artist

Art was always the subject I enjoyed the most and I felt it was my best subject at school. When I finished school I went onto college to do fine art and design. After that, I did go to university for a month, but I decided uni wasn’t for me and left. That’s when I decided on trying for a tattoo apprenticeship.

My style is called neo-traditional. It’s a play on the traditional tattoo style but with a bit more of a realistic twist. Colour is my absolute favourite, I love bright bold happy colours combined with anything to do with nature. I love flora and fauna, especially birds.

What I love about the job and the challenges

It’s very hard to say one thing I love the most about my job! Mainly that it doesn’t feel like a job. I love the freedom and creativity, along with the people you work with who are like family. You get to meet all kinds of awesome people and get to know them. Also having that kind of trust put in you is very special, I get to create something people will wear forever. What could be better than that?

I would say the biggest challenge, not surprisingly, has been this past year. Not only having to deal with the pandemic and the personal worry that brings, but your business having to close and not making any income is terrifying. It’s something we never expected or planned for. Not being able to work has made me realise how fragile my job can be.

However, not being able to work at the moment has given me time to work on my painting and get lots of designs ready for when I can work again. I knew how much I loved my job, but this situation has given me a whole new perspective on how grateful I am.

My advice if you want to be a tattoo artist

I would say the best advice I can give someone is before actually learning to tattoo is that the first thing that will get you into the industry will be your artwork. Have a strong portfolio, do what you do best. It’s always great to see someone’s style and personality come through their artwork, that’s what I look for in a portfolio. I want to see the artist they could potentially be and what individual style they would bring to tattooing.

I probably have too many tattoos to count at this point, both sleeves, most of my legs, back and my bum. My career is coming up 10 years in the industry so probably way too many tattoos to count at this point.

Women in the tattoo industry

I’ve really enjoyed seeing how much the industry has changed in the last 10 years. Starting out in the industry it was very male-dominated. There weren’t as many female artists. Seeing all the women in the industry now is powerful, going from a predominantly male industry to having as many female artists and female-owned studios.

Women are making their mark on the industry and it’s wonderful to see. I’m glad there are so many amazing female artists so that women looking to get into the industry can really see themselves represented. I can’t wait to see where the industry goes in the future and what the next generation of artists will do.

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