Best Tattooing Books For Beginners | Essential Tattoo Books For every Tattoo Artist (2024)

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When you make your first steps into the world of Tattooing, you need to build a reference library of books about Tattoos. Beautiful Tattooing books that can serve as an inspiration and guide on your journey as you learn to Tattoo.

Your tattooing books will guide you as you progress along the path from tattoo enthusiast to beginner to professional. Maybe they will line the walls of your own studio someday.


To help you out I have curated a list of the books that I think will inspire you with your continuing Tattoo education. They are also valuable tools for professional tattoo artists.

From books that teach you how to tattoo and run your own Tattoo Studio, to books on Tattoo Design and everything in between, we have something for everyone interested in the art of tattooing. Whether you are an experienced artist looking for new ideas or just starting in this exciting field, our selection has something for everyone. Take a look at the list and see what sparks your creativity and sparks your authentic tattoo ideas.!

Table of Contents

Overall Best Books for The Tattoo Beginner

Here I’m going to cut to the chase.

Below are the Top 2 Tattoo Books I think YOU NEED as a tattoo newbie.

These books will cover a large amount of what you need to know when starting out learning to tattoo.

If you can only buy a couple of books, make these your choices.

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OVERALL WINNER

Best How To Tattoo Book For Beginners

The Tattoo Textbook: Escape the Grind, Do What You Love, and Launch Your Kick-Ass Tattoo Career.
By Shelly Dax

The Tattoo Bible. This is the best and most in depth book on how to tattoo that I have read. If you only buy one book make it this one.

How To Tattoo Books

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The Tattoo Textbook: Escape the Grind, Do What You Love, and Launch Your Kick-Ass Tattoo Career

By Shelly Dax

Author Shelly Dax is the director of a Tattooing school in Oregon {a state where you need to attend a course to get a tattoo license}.

Her aim with this book has been to put together the most comprehensive information to support beginner tattooists as they start out. A source of fundamental tattoo techniques.

The Tattoo Textbook provides a complete course in tattooing, giving you the tools you need to begin a successful career as a tattoo artist. from fundamental tattoo essentials to business support. With full-color illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions, this book is a must-have for any beginner.

This is the number one book every beginner tattooist needs in their collection. I think this is the most in depth info in a book that you can find.

PROS

  • Easy to follow.
  • Lots of illustrations, photos, stories, and examples.
  • Covers pretty much everything you need to know about starting to tattoo.
  • Good emphasis on hygiene and safety
  • Even covers things like how to start a tattoo business

CONS

  • Some of the example artwork of common tattoos looks a bit dated.
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Basic Fundamentals of Modern Tattoo

By C R Jordan

This is the classic book on how to tattoo, written by one of the most experienced and well-respected professionals in the business. Packed with information on the components of a tattoo machine, sterilization standards, and how to use after-market parts on your machines, this is an essential read for any apprentice tattoo artist.

Learn everything you need to know about tattooing with this comprehensive guide. With sections on the history of tattooing, different needle configurations, pigments, and more, you’ll have everything you need to get started in this fascinating art form.

From the basics of setting up your equipment to industry secrets and tips, this book covers it all. If you’re looking to become a professional tattoo artist, or just want to learn more about this fascinating art form, then Basic Fundamentals of Modern Tattoo is essential reading.

PROS

  • Covers the basics
  • Good info on the health and hygiene of tattooing
  • Good if you want to know more about coils tattoo machines

CONS

  • Some of the information is out of date for modern tattooing.
  • Only covers coils machines. Not rotary

Books on Blood Borne Pathogen Health, Hygiene and Safety

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Handbook of Modern Hospital Safety 2nd Edition, Kindle Edition

By William Charney

When working as a tattooist you are at risk from a wide variety of hazards. This includes the risk of contracting or spreading a blood-borne disease such as HIV or Hepatitis. You need to understand proper sanitation inside out to protect yourself and your clients.

This Handbook of Modern Hospital Safety is essential for anyone looking to protect themselves from exposure paradigms. With solutions and models of protection proven successful in the scientific community, it’s the latest science and intervention strategies at your fingertips.

PROS

  • In-depth. Wide variety of explanations for different risks.

CONS

  • Stupid Expensive, even the kindle edition {but you can rent it}
  • Not all information is relevant to Tattooists.

Tattoo Design Books

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How To Draw Tattoos:

Tattoo Designs Drawing Guide Book with Simple Sketching Instructions and Detailed Steps for Beginners and Experienced Artists

By Erik Barrett

Learn how to create tattoo drawings – This book is perfect for anyone interested in learning how to draw beautiful Tattoo Designs.

With easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations, you’ll be able to grasp the basic concepts and start drawing amazing tattoos in no time!

The beginning of the book covers the basics of drawing tattoos, such as linework and shading. Once you have a good understanding of these techniques, you can move on to more complex designs.

Diverse Tattoo Designs – Within the five chapters of this book are many different tattoo designs to choose from. This includes different tattoo style such as Polynesian, Tribal, classic, and minimalist – there’s something for everyone! You can even use the practice pages at the end of each chapter to improve your skills.

Create your own designs – With this guide, you’ll be able to create your very own personalized tattoos that will be uniquely yours. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, this book has everything you need to get started on drawing realistic tattoos.

PROS

  • Breaks down the concepts of tattoo design into simple steps for beginners.
  • A great way to get started learning creative tattoo art

CONS

  • None

Tattoo Stencils For Beginners

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Tattoo Design book Volume 1

Improve your tattooing skills – Start with over 75 stencil-ready tattoo designs that are perfect for any level of tattoo artist. You can use our designs as a starting point to create your own unique tattoos.

Practice or make money – Our stencils are ready to use and will print out cleanly to make a stencil. Use them with practice skin, with clients or simply use them as inspiration to create your own tattoos.

Get better results – Our designs are carefully crafted by a professional tattoo artist and are perfect for any level of tattoo artist – from beginner, working on practice skin, to advanced.

PROS

  • Copyright free designs

CONS

  • None

BUY THIS BOOK NOW

Tattoo Lettering Books

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Tattoo Lettering Inspiration Reference Book:

The Essential Guide to Blackletter, Script, West Coast and Calligraphy Lettering Alphabets + Filigree and Flourishes for Tattoo and Hand Lettering Artists

By Kale James

Take your lettering to the next level – The Tattoo Lettering Inspiration Reference Book showcases a diverse and comprehensive range of brutal blackletter fonts, beautifully designed scripts, authentic west coast hand styles, and calligraphy fonts, as well as flourishes and filigree to give your lettering designs an elegant ornamental finish.

Helps you to bring beautiful lettering into different Tattoo Styles.

PROS

  • Good for practice – The reverse side of each page has been designed with ruled lines so that you can practice and perfect your lettering designs. If you prefer not to practice in the book, there is a downloadable print-at-home practice book with ruled and gridded lines.
  • Also comes with a downloadable eBook for even more tattoo inspiration!
  • Contains complete alphabets
  • Wide range of styles

CONS

  • More of a reference book. May not be what you are looking for if you don’t want to practice hand lettering.

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Graphic Art of Tattoo Lettering:

A Visual Guide to Contemporary Styles and Designs

By BJ Betts & Nick Schonberger

Learn from one of todays most influential tattoo lettering artists – Get inspired by one of the best! This book includes guidance from one of today’s most influential tattoo lettering artists, BJ Betts.

Master West Coast Letter Forms – Learn to recreate all of the most widely used techniques with this helpful guide.

Embellish your tattoo designs with calligraphic style – Add sophistication and flair to your tattoos with this easy-to-follow instruction.

Gain insight into the history, complexities and relevant substyles of tattoos. Each chapter provides in-depth information that will help you create tattoos that stand out from the rest.

PROS

  • BJ Betts lettering is amazing and will inspire your work.
  • Covers the history of popular styles

CONS

  • Maybe a little advanced for total beginners
  • Doesn’t contain complete alphabets

Tattoo Art Reference Books

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Tattoo Inspiration Compendium:

An Image Archive for Tattoo Artists and Designers Volume No.2

Looking for creative tattoo inspiration? – This comprehensive compendium of tattoo designs is perfect for artists and designers looking for creative inspiration for their next tattoo. With over 500 copyright-free images to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect design for your needs.

A rich archive of rare 18th and 19th century imagery. – This unique collection of tattoo imagery is inspired by the rich aesthetic and symbolic imagery seen in neo-traditional tattoo culture today.

Featuring skulls, masonic emblems, snakes, spiders, toads, eagles, owls, vintage Americana, sea monsters, tall ships, filigree, ornamental designs, religious iconography, and more, this book is a must-have for any artist or designer looking for creative inspiration.

PROS

  • Comes with a download link to access high-resolution versions of the images
  • Copyright free illustrations

CONS

  • Print quality is poor {but this doesn’t really matter as you can access the images digitally}

Vintage Tattoo Flash Books

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Vintage Tattoo Flash: 100 Years of Traditional Tattoos from the Collection of Jonathan Shaw

This isn’t your average tattoo book! Vintage Tattoo Flash draws from the personal collection of Jonathan Shaw-renowned outlaw tattooist and author.

Over 300 pieces of vintage flash, spanning popular tattoos from the first 75 years of American tattooing and the advent of electric tattooing. An original collection of tattoo flash

Original vintage flash designs – Lovingly reproduced sheets of original flash from popular tattoo artists including Bob Shaw, Zeke Owen, Tex Rowe, Ted Inman, Ace Harlyn, Ed Smith, Paul Rogers, and many more. Cool stuff if you’re into tattoos!

Perfect for anyone interested in tattoos or Americana culture. A coffee table book that will spark conversation.

PROS

  • Access to rare collections of vintage flash

CONS

  • Expensive

Women Tattooists

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Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo

By Margot Mifflin

I love this book and have a well-thumbed copy in my studio. Margot Mifflin has created an amazing book that celebrates both tattooed women and women tattooists.

For the first time ever, a comprehensive history of women and tattoos is available! A first for female tattoo culture. Drawn from exclusive sources, this book provides a fascinating look at the origins and evolution of tattoo artistry from a female perspective.

Including…

Victorian society women who wore artistic tattoo designs as custom couture are featured, including Winston Churchill’s mother.

Maud Wagner, the first known woman tattooist, who was an apprentice to her husband-to-be in 1904.

Nineteenth-century sideshow attractions, who created fantastic abduction tales in which they claimed to have been forcibly tattooed.

A fascinating and inspirational book.

PROS

  • The first comprehensive history of women and tattoos. A must-have for the studio of any female tattooist. {Although fascinating for everyone}.

CONS

  • The layout doesn’t work on Kindle. Buy the print version.

Japanese Tattoo Books

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Japanese Tattoos: Meanings, Shapes, and Motifs

By Yori Moriarty

Get a closer look at Japanese tattoos. – Intimately learn about the culture and history behind Japanese tattooing. This book is filled with beautiful illustrations of key motifs and their meanings, covering periods into the last century.

Understand the symbolism behind Irezumi or Japanese tattooing – Gain insight into the world of traditional Japanese tattoos, and appreciate their intricate designs and meanings. Peek inside the dark underworld of the yakuza, and see how tattoos have been intertwined with their culture for centuries.

Discover the mythological and supernatural creatures of Japanese tattooing – From dragons to tigers, discover the most significant creatures in Japanese tattooing and what they represent.

Each illustration is packed with hidden meaning and symbolism, waiting to be explored.

PROS

  • Authentic historical photos and Japanese paintings and illustrations for inspiration.

CONS

  • Full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.

Small & Simple Tattoo Designs

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Tiny Tattoos: 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks

By Rebecca Vincent

Tiny Tattoos – 1,000 Small Inspirational Artworks! This visually stunning collection of mini tattoos is curated by acclaimed English tattoo artist Rebecca Vincent. From realism and traditional styles to floral and dotwork designs, there’s something for everyone in this must-have sourcebook.

With over 1,000 small tattoos to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect design for your first (or next!) piece of body art.

Perfect for beginners: These tiny and striking tattoos are ideal for practicing your skills before taking the plunge with a larger piece. They’re also great for people who want a small, subtle tattoo that won’t dominate their skin.

A wide range of over 1000 illustrations of new and groundbreaking tattoos.

PROS

  • Perfect for practice on fake skin and nailing your lifework
  • Great inspiration for tattoo artists

CONS

  • Some of the designs are not great. A mixed bag.

American Tattoos

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Traditional American Tattoo Design: Where It Came from and Its Evolution.

By Jerry Swallow

Truly authentic reference – This 265-page book is packed with original tattoo flash sheets and written by a veteran American Tattoo Artist who has been designing his own tattoos since 1960. From religious to animal themes, there’s something for everyone in this comprehensive reference collection of tattoo art.

See how tattoo art has evolved over time, and get inspired by the trend today to revisit earlier designs. Each of the hundreds of flash sheets is categorized by theme for easy navigation.

Inspiration– A detailed exploration of tattoos. With so many beautiful images to browse, this book will be an endless source of inspiration for passionate tattoo designers.

PROS

  • Authentic reference from an old-school master and acclaimed tattoo artist.
  • Extensive reference illustrations make this a primary reference source

CONS

  • None

How To Get A Tattoo Apprenticeship

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Getting a Tattoo Apprenticeship: The secrets that will land you your dream job. (Learn Tattooing Book 1)

Tips for getting an apprenticeship – Do you want to become a tattooist but don’t know where to start? This guide provides insider tips that actually work and will help you get the apprenticeship you’ve always wanted.

The secret weapon that will put you ahead of the competition every time – Want to know the secret weapon of successful applicants? How to create an amazing portfolio? This guide tells you everything you need to know about landing a tattoo apprenticeship.

Avoid these top mistakes – Want to make sure your application stands out from the rest? Make sure you don’t make these common mistakes! With this guide, you’ll increase your chances of getting the apprenticeship you’ve always wanted.

PROS

  • Insider tips that work

CONS

  • Doesn’t cover tattoo techniques. This is about getting an apprenticeship.

Conclusion: The best Tattooing Books for your Tattoo Education

There are so many wonderful books for tattoo enthusiasts covering all aspects of contemporary tattoo practices. We hope that this curated list of Tattooing Books has helped find the right book for you. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, there is something here to spark your creativity and help take your Tattooing skills to the next level.

So don’t wait any longer – start exploring our selection now and find the perfect Tattooing Book for you!

PS – If you are starting to learn to tattoo you may find these pages helpful.

How To Tattoo Basics for Beginners

What is the best thing to practice Tattooing on

How hard do I press when Tattooing?

How to use Tattoo Transfer Paper – with or without a thermal copier

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Helen is an Artistic & Medical Tattooist. She specialises in scar cover up tattoos and breast cancer reconstruction tattoos as well as bespoke tattoo design. She writes about all aspects of Tattooing.

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Latest posts by Helen Aldous (see all)

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