So You Want To Become A Tattoo Artist!!!
Tattooing is an apprentice-based art. A traditional apprenticeship lasts at least three years. Our organization advocates that those who wish to learn the profession follow this route. There are so many variables to learn (such as skin condition, medications that affect tattooing, machine building and adjustment, design color and selection, pigment reactions and variations) that the "trial and error" approach is criminal. Tattooing places the health and well being of your client, not to mention yourself, at risk. By taking advantage of the knowledge held by an experienced, professional artist, you will avoid many costly mistakes.
In past years, schools have opened that claim to teach tattooing. Many of these schools will turn you out in a matter of months. It is an option, but a poor one. There is no way you can learn all you need to know about skin, machines, design selection and infection control in 6 months. Additionally, you will not have the respect of your peers. In this industry, that can be very important.
Landing an apprenticeship can take a lot of persistence. First, it helps if you have tattoos. A person who is not tattooed and has not lived as a tattooed person does not present a very compelling argument for entering the profession. If you are not tattooed, you can't help a first timer make those very important decisions about selection, size and placement. You are also not showing much of a commitment to the tattoo community.
An apprenticeship is rarely, if ever, free. You would not expect to attend a trade school without paying tuition so don't expect an artist to provide you with the tools for making a living without expecting compensation for the knowledge. Get a contract and have a lawyer go over it with you. This is a business arrangement and both you as the apprentice and the artist have certain obligations that must be met. Make certain you both know what they are.
When looking for an apprenticeship, put together a portfolio of your artwork. Designs that are similar to tattoo flash would be most appropriate, though anything that shows your skill with composition, color and line would be good. Lastly, you should make appointments to talk to the artists in your area. You should be willing to wash floors and scrub toilets. Artists probably see 30 people a week who want to become tattooists, most of them talented artists in other mediums. If you want to set yourself apart, you are going to have to stand out. What most of these people lack is a willingness to start at the bottom and learn the right way. As one artist put it: "I can make an artist. I can't stand a hotshot." This is an industry that places heavy emphasis on respect; respect for the history and traditions and for those that have come before.
To view our pamphlets
"So You Want to be a Tattoo Artist" please click here.
"Basic Guidlines for getting a Tattoo" please click here.