Is it completely necessary? No, but it doesn't hurt. The way the world is today more emphasis is put on the little paper called a degree than your talent. That said if you are looking to get into graphic design it is recommended you earn a degree. Graphic design is also a good skill to have as a tattooist. Commercial arts might be something you could look into as well. The more skills and knowledge you have the better your chances of rising above the starving artist category. I live modestly even when I do make the big money, you never know when that streak will dry up . I do know quite a few extremely well known and well off artists. Some studied and some were "discovered" by a patron of the arts.
However you decide to approach your career remember never let discouragement get in the way, ignore acclaim from your family and friends, criticism is your friend, luck has more to do with making it than anyone admits and hobbyists are not professionals. Never treat your art as a hobby, ever, and do not work for free.
Bon voyage ,
ps. please stop using the term "I consider myself to be", you are an artist.