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How Do I Get a Tattoo Apprenticeship?

Working as a tattoo artist's apprentice can help an individual learn valuable skills.
A tattoo machine.
Article Details
  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A tattoo apprenticeship is a great way to learn more about the process of giving tattoos as well as more about running a business. Finding a tattoo apprenticeship is not usually difficult, but finding a good one can be. The best way to begin your search is to prepare your portfolio. This portfolio should include samples of your best artwork so you can show the tattoo artist you are talented and prepared. Choose only your best work, and put the pieces in an attractive organizer that will protect the artwork as you tote it around.

Visit several tattoo shops in your area and talk to the owners before you broach the idea of a tattoo apprenticeship. You are more likely to get a good tattoo apprenticeship if you first develop a solid relationship with the tattoo artists. Don't be a pest, but don't be afraid to form relationships, either. Ask the artists about their work, look at samples, and take note of how well the shop functions. The place should be clean, the employees should be friendly and professional, and customers should be satisfied. It may help to visit the shop on several occasions, and if possible, you may even want to get a tattoo done while you're there.

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When you feel comfortable doing so, approach the owner or manager about a tattoo apprenticeship. Many of these positions are unpaid, and while the majority are free of charge, some shop owners may charge a fee for giving you an education. If possible, try to find a free apprenticeship, but if none exist in your area, paying a small fee is acceptable as long as the shop owner is really willing to give you a thorough education. Do not commit any money to a tattoo apprenticeship without signing a contract first. This contract should spell out exactly how much you are paying and what you will get in return.

The point of a tattoo apprenticeship is to learn not only how to create tattoos, but also how to take care of the equipment, how to interact with customers, and how to run a business. Be sure the manager or owner is willing to teach you about these aspects of the business during your apprenticeship. If he or she is not willing to do so, thank them for their time and move on. Offer your services to another shop, and be courteous and professional when you approach owners about a potential position.

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Discuss this Article

popcorn
Post 3

@drtroubles - I would encourage your friend to take art classes at a community college. There is a lot to be said for tattoo artist training, but I think that having a non-industry specific trade skills are always a nice backup.

If you friend is talented he can get a tattoo apprentice position and further hone his skills. This doesn't generally require any post-secondary education, so that door is always open to a skilled artist. I would suggest he look into other art apprenticeships and see if he can secure other jobs as well. It is always a good idea to have a number of job options.

drtroubles
Post 2

Do you think it is a better idea to get a tattoo apprenticeship, or take art courses at a community college first?

My friend is considering being a tattoo artist, but he wants to get some solid training behind him first. He has been looking into how to get a tattoo apprenticeship and it seems that various shops have differing tattoo apprenticeship requirements. Some of them want him to have art courses under his belt, other just rely completely on the portfolio he presents. I am not sure what advice to give him. I personally think it is good idea to get some college classes under his belt, just because it can open other doors.

lonelygod
Post 1

My friend owns a tattoo shop and offers tattoo training on the side. She charges a fee, but her instruction is more along the lines of a course, rather than just giving away tattooing apprenticeships. The interesting thing is though, about twice a year she'll choose the best students and offer them tattoo apprenticeship programs at her shop.

The tattoo parlor my friend owns is really well known, with some popular artists working there, so I suppose she has earned getting her pick of the students. I guess that isn't much different than any other industry though. If you're the best, you can pick and choose from who you bring onto your team.

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