well it all starts one place apprenticeship…don’t cut corners it will only set you backwards.


    You know I’ve given alot of thought to this subject.


    Most artist in established shops will tell you they served a apprenticeship.
    Many of them even did.
    I can name a few that obviously did’nt.
    The term apprenticeship though is a very loose term.
    Not every one is cut out to be a Tattoo artist, and not every Tattoo Artist is willing to take on a
    More should.

    Apprenticeship should have more support in the Tattoo Parlor Legislation, it does’nt, and thats sad.
    State and local laws in the US should require it, but few do to my knowledge.
    Honestly the areas with strong Tattoo regulation are also the best areas to work, and having State laws that require it would only improve and legitamatize the craft more.

    In other trades a apprentice earns a living wage, in Tattooing the Apprentice pays $2000-5000 up front and works for free for 1-5 years. All to gain the respect of his peers.

    The experience gained mentoring a novice is worth more than years of running your own shop.
    Why? Because you have to answer questions you yourself never thought to ask.
    The reason a student can’t surpass the teacher is that the apprentice makes the master a master.

    Well apprenticeship is the way to go.
    No doubt about that.

    Find a artist that has successfully taught at least one apprentice, or give one a chance that has a
    good reputation and is ready to take on a student.

    Chief D

    Tattooing is still a largely unregulated and underground skill trade. That is, you find a Master to teach you, you become a journeyman after your Master has given his blessing, and you become a “master” when you take on an apprentice of your own.
    The accepted method in the industry is to serve a formal apprenticeship. The cost and length is determined by the “Master”. You could work at it for years before being allowed journeyman status.
    This usually involves paying thousands of dollars and doing lots and lots of free labor in a shop. When you factor in free labor, a traditional apprenticeship could have a real cost of tens of thousands of dollars.
    The problem with the system is that better artists will likely have a line of folks waiting to apprentice. Then there is the quality of the learning that actually occurs. There are MANY horror stories of bad apprenticeships.
    Legally, every state has different requirements (many have none) for the training process. Every state has different requirements for operating a tattoo shop. Most have more to do with safety and health procedures and sanitary conditions of the shop than they do with the artist. Tattooing is still illegal in some states – fyi.
    There are tattoo shools, but the quality is questionable, and the resulting students are not respected by those trained in the traditional apprentice system. There are also “Scratchers” who receive little or no formal training. Scratchers are kitchen table inkers who butcher tattoos on their family and friends. They either get better, or they run out of willing participants!
    The end result is not where or how the artist learned to tattoo, but the quality of the work being done. You see horrible tattoos come from well respected shops, and you see brilliant tattoos being done in the garage.
    Do your homework!
    Ask the artist questions! Be comfortable with them and check out their stuff! Look at their portfolio! the quality of their work speaks to the ability of the artist! Safety and sanitary shoulld be evident in their workspace and practices! If you dont feel comfortable, walk away!
    Good tattoos come from talent as much as training!


    Every Studio Artist has their way of doing things. When I went through my apprenticeship years ago. I was paid some money for certain things such as drawing sheets of flash for the shop. Now I was treated the same with flash as any other flash artist. If the shop owner liked the flash and thought it would sell, he paid me the going rate for the sheets. Now as far as the time I spent doing what everyone else did not want to do, such as cleaning and running the autoclaves. I kept my mouth shut when I wanted to wine a bit. What I wasn’t realizing right off was that I was learning a valuable lesson. The best Artists in the world have to have the best in equipment and it must be maintained. I have been a fan of Paul Boothe for years and would love to have some of his work on me. But if I knew he was being lazy with cleaning and I ran a chance of getting deseases or infections from him, I would not want him to work on me. Now when I started I did not make much money. And I did alot of free work for my lessons. But when I was all done with it and Mr. Bill felt I was good enough to be cut loose for certain tatts I started making some more serious money. I know that while I was in his shop we all did things his way. He was a great artist and a great friend. I learned that tattooing is not really just a job that pays very well, its a life style that some feel comfortable in and they do well. Now I know that if I started wining toBill about all this free work I was doing for him, he would have made life very simple for me as he escorted me out the front doors and told me to have a nice life. I know that when I take on apprents I do it the way that I was trained. It worked for me and it works for them. Now granted if some hot head comes into the shop telling me how to do things when they have no idea, I will be nice and walk them out as well.


    ive been accepted as a tattoo apprentice. the guy absolutely loved my work. but he wanted 8000$ from me which included my own equipment. too much??



    My advice is keep that 8k go to a studio and offer to work for free for a year and stick at it (using that money you just saved to live on). Whats to stop him/her folding and making off with your cash?

    The reason I say that is most artists will not let you pick up a machine for the first year as they want you to get hygiene, set up, and drawing skills up to speed.

    Remember drawing on paper is nothing like doing it on skin.

    Take care


    thanks for the info. i will keep my 8k, which seems a tad more than the going rate of 2-5k. the guy said there would be a contract but still, 8k is alot of money. guess ill have to hit the pavement and look for someone else.


    another artist in my town was offering an apprenticeship 2 yrs ago for £10,000 which is about $12,000 and like i say … that was 2 yrs ago

    my advice is go along with sheravs way of doing it, offer for free…..

    get plenty of ink done by the artist and then after a while of having work done, show him your portfolio of drawings and paintings and tattoo flash of your own design (nothing coppied) if he like what he sees then offer your services for free but remember that whatever they ask you to do then dont argue about it, you will have been asked to do it for a reason 😉

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