How to Become a Tattoo Apprentice
It is especially hard not to be captivated by the technical ability of tattooing artists, their ability to convey images with perfect composition, to imbue drawings with the brilliance of life and the most colorful of hues. Maybe, one of the reasons you are reading this article is because you yourself have been captivated by the art of tattooists and wish to develop your own innate talents.
You may have been inspired by the various styles that can be seen on the walls of shops, or by the boastful pride of a friend’s recently crafted design. Maybe you have gathered quite the collection of tattoos on your own personal canvas and you wish to take the next step down the road of your passion for tattoos, and seek an apprenticeship.
Whatever your reasons, you have decided to pursue your interest in the artistic endeavor of design and become a artist.
Knowing Where to Begin
What Not To Do
It can be difficult to know where to start, but one of the most beneficial pieces of advice that can be given to you before you begin your road to becoming a tattooist; Is to know what not to do. Some people may be overwhelmed with the desire of becoming a tattooist and due to their impatience they may decide to buy a tattooing kit, without prior experience and knowledge in tattooing.
They may even set up a makeshift tattooing set-up in their home or wherever they may feel convenient, despite the health and safety implications. They will also commit to practicing on themselves or on friends, which can lead to undesired tattoos that may become infected due to the lack of knowledge or the unsterile environment that they have practiced in. Not only can it provide implications on the person being tattooed, but it can also hinder the aspiring tattooist’s talent, due to them developing bad habits that can be difficult to get rid of. These habits may even slow their rate of progress down and ultimately ruin their ambition and drive to become a professional tattooist.
To prevent these bad habits from taking place and to learn in the most efficient manner, it is strongly advised that you learn through a dynamic structure under a tattooing artist by means of an apprenticeship or a tattoo art school. This will ensure that the techniques you learn are properly practiced; enhancing your technique and your overall design ability. The more efficient the learning methods are, the quicker you can learn new techniques and get on to becoming a tattooist and starting you career.
Looking For An Apprenticeship
The first step you can take to becoming a tattooists apprentice is to find a tattooist who is not only willing to train an apprentice but also has a respectable reputation and a wealth of experience in their craft.
Tattoo apprenticeships can be very sought after, especially if the tattooist has a respectable reputation and establishment. Due to this, tattoo apprenticeship positions may not be advertised due to the immeasurable competition you may face from people just like you, who may have asked for the apprenticeships up front already and possibly shortlisted, this is often the way things are done with tattooing, This is also the most effective way to find out if there are any tattoo apprenticeships available, to go and ask straight up-front, not only will you get a straight answer and feel for the tattooist vibe but you can also generate rapport that may aid you in getting the apprenticeship over your competitors.
What It Takes As an Apprentice
Apprenticeships provide a great learning environment for tattooing and a means for the apprentice to experience what working as a tattooist would be like in a day-to-day business environment. Some apprenticeships also offer the means of generating an income as well. As an apprentice tattooist it is also expected that you would hone your craft outside of work hours as well, whether that would be designing flash tattoos or learning how to shade and understanding colour combinations, tattooing requires a great deal of practice that most jobs and apprenticeships don’t require. This is because tattooing is an adept skill that requires great focus and understanding of many art concepts.
Unfortunately the rarity of these apprenticeships is quite known and also the fierce demand and competition for tattooing apprenticeship has also become a problem in some destinations. This has forced some establishments to charge tattooist enthusiasts considerable sums to take them on as apprentices, and as the reputation and renown of the establishment increases, so does the cost.
A Guide-Line to Finding an Apprenticeship
Research the Tattoo Parlor and Their Artists
The first thing you want to do is research the tattoo parlor you wish to inquire or apply to. Understand the establishments or artists particular style; does that particular style encourage your tattooing enthusiasm? Ask friends or family if they have been to that particular tattoo parlor and ask for their opinions. Luckily though, we live in an age of social networking and one of the best ways of understanding the reputation of a tattoo establishment is to check the online feedback and reviews of a tattoos business through sites like Facebook. These sites will not only give you feedback that can help you decide if the business is reputable, but also if the particular artists style is one that you like. Once you have picked the establishments that may interest you, go to them in person and get a feel for the atmosphere and people. This is important, because the place has to feel like somewhere you would like to work, as a tattooist, you want to work somewhere that creates artistic and creative energy and gives you a sense of optimism. It’s these traits that will maintain your determination during your apprenticeship and enable you to get to the other side as a talented artist.
Experience Getting a Tattoo
If you don’t already have tattoos, then my advice would be to get one. Not only do tattoos look great anyway, but it is also good practice to understand what being in the chair is like. This way you can empathize with your customers when they are getting a design done. Not only can you emphasis with them, but also the customer will be reassured by the sight of their tattooist having tattoos, this isn’t necessary but it does garner reassurance and trust with the customer and tattooists relationship, because they now know that you understand what it’s like to be in their position. It is also not uncommon for tattooists to first practice on themselves when learning tattooing, and some tattooists may ask you to practice on yourself before you practice on a live model, because if you are not willing to practice on yourself then why should you be trusted with a customer.
Preparation Is Key
When you head to the tattoo establishment of your choice, it is paramount that you walk in prepared. One of the most effective ways to establish your ability and that you have serious intentions is to create a portfolio of your artistic ability. A portfolio provides you with the perfect platform to demonstrate your level of creative design, utilizing colour theory and your degree of ability at line work. The artist will be able to determine very quickly if you are the student for them and it will increase your chances of landing a role at their studio. Tattooists not only look for initial passion and determination, but also someone who hasn’t got corrupted experience from practicing in their own home with the online starter kits we mentioned at the beginning of the guide. The reason behind this; is because someone who has experimented profusely in their own environment may have developed many bad habits that may just take too long to override, it may even be beneficial to you, to not mention this if you have practiced on your own, in-order too grab that role you want. Just remember to forget everything you have picked-up from your self-teaching, and start a fresh.
Display Your Enthusiasm:
Coinciding with the previous points, enthusiasm and determination are attributes you should be keen to portray to your chosen tattooist. This will inform them that you’re are serious about getting a position at their parlor, and that you are not there to waste their time; but you must also walk a thin line and not seem as if you are a nuisance and begin to annoy them by displaying your tenacity. As mentioned before, the more work in your portfolio, the likelier it is that the tattooist will get the message and that you understand the amount of work involved and you’re not afraid of getting your hands dirty. You can also display your determination by building rapport with the artists and their business by checking out there social media profiles, like Facebook and liking their posts and maybe initiating a form of dialogue. Maybe even go into the tattoo parlor and strike up a conversation or ask about a tattoo that you may be thinking of. Show the tattooists that you’re determined, enthusiastic and likable; this will only help you to achieve that sought after position of ‘apprentice’.
Have the Perfect Manner
One of the most important aspects of a tattooist’s job that some people forget is that a tattooist is a customer service job. You are providing a service to the public; you are interacting with customers who expect you to make them feel comfortable and positive throughout their experience. Sitting, practicing for days straight, this may not have crossed your mind or you may of played the thought off nonchalantly. But the serious matter is; customer service is crucial and helps keep repeat business within a tattoo establishment, sometime you can’t just go on skill alone. As a tattooist you should always display an approachable friendly manner and give respect to your fellow tattooists. They too, will watch to see if you’re fit for their team and if you will benefit their business. To increase your chances of landing an apprenticeship role you have to show them that you are an amicable person. You will know doubt face difficult people or you may encounter challenging experiences, but like with any other job, it’s how you deal with those situations. A positive outlook and enthusiasm will be your most effective tool in staying determined and mastering the art of tattooing.
My last bit of advice, before you start to put this information to good use is to remain civil and respect the tattooist’s decision if they do not hire you. Do not see this as a negative; it could be for any number of reasons that’s not related to you in any way. Just keep trying and no doubt you will eventually be rewarded.