Asked by inat-the-deep-end
You’re on the right track! Keep building your skills, and don’t limit yourself to tattoo imagery. The more well rounded you are as an artist, the better prepared you’ll be to handle the variety of requests that people have for their tattoos.
Don’t freak out about having to use reference to draw! Yes, there are some people that think you should be able to do it without looking. When you’re talking about traditional subjects, it’s possible because you draw the same thing the same way over and over…you almost can’t help but learn how to do it without looking. Tattooing these days is so much more then that! I work with about 15 other artist, and almost everyone uses reference material to draw. This includes myself. There is hardly a tattoo I do that I don’t look at reference for.
The important thing to learn is HOW to use reference. When it comes to another person’s art, NEVER copy. Look at it, get an idea of the subject matter, style, and feeling, and then put it away for good. The less you look at something, the less your drawing will look like it. Use other photos if you need to look at how to draw something…use several in fact. The more you practice, the easier it will get.