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timidchaotic

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 4:12 pm    Post subject: Tattoo Apprenticeship Reply with quote

Hey, I'm 17 and I want to become a tattoo and piercing artist. I've been doing as much research as I can, but I've run into a few problems. For one, I cant find the legal age you have you have to be to become an artist. Is it the same as the legal age for getting a tattoo? Also I have heard that you need to apprentice underneath another artist. Is there any other way to do this? I've called every place I can think of with the portfolio ready in my hand, and no place would even take a look at it because they have had problems in the past with apprentices. Can anyone leave any kind of insight for me?

Thanks,
Tim
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CxCx

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TimidChaotic, I've posted this a few times, and it's purely my OPINION, but hopefully this helps you out :

---------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm currently apprenticing in a small street shop in central PA. I figured that i'd try to give my typical pieces of advice when it comes to people wanting to get into the business :

I urge everyone that wants to get involved in tattooing to first take a couple sidesteps before diving into the world of tattooing.

Before we start this journey, i must stress one thing. NEVER during this process conisder taking a shortcut, buying a pre-packaged "tattoo kit" (AKA over-priced door stops) and scractching out of your house. this will seriously hinder most potential mentors from taking you on. Most artists would preferr an eagar individual with an art background and a blank slate when it comes to "how to tattoo". most won't take the time to deprogram you from all of the "tattoo how-to's" you've picked up on your own.

Beyond that, also ignore all of the easily attainable "tech advance" found on the internet. After you get an apprenticeship and start working with machines, THEN check'em out. Print them out and take them to your mentor. Get their thoughts. He/she will have a better take on what's good info vs. what's bad info (as anyone can write and post documents on the web). Ok, now that that's out of the way...

First, if you aren't 18 and a high school graduate, put off tattooing until after High school. Take those years to draw everyday and figure who you are artistically and what artistsic style best describe you/are most comfortable to you.

After high school is out of the way, enroll in a few college level art classes. I recommend 4 :

-Drawing I
-Intro to Graphic Design
-Intro to Illustration
-Color and 2-D design

These classes will take the artistic base that you already posess and give you more ideas and push you further than you ever thought possible. All of them will help you in the tattoo world. Everything from basic color blending to designing full-on custom pieces.

While you're doing the college courses, get a job. It doesn't have to be full-time. Get a part time job that will pay you enough to make ends meet as far as bills go, and still give you time to go to class. Balancing these 2 animals will definately help you as an apprentice, as it doesn't pay (very minimal if at all) and most last awhile.

After that, take a local course on Blood Borne Pathogens and Cross Contamination. There are internet courses available as well, and, to be honest, they'll do. this will give you a background in dealing with body fluids in a safe and sterile manner (which you'll have to do on a daily basis). Most shops (the one i apprentice at included) like to have the artists/piercers certified in being able to handle BBPs. This will get you one step ahead of the game.
From there, just start scoping out local shops and getting work done (if you already have a prefered local artist that's done work on/for you before, that's great). Make sure that the shop is a reputable studio. it doesn't have to be a big studio that only does multi-sitting customs and whatnot (a good, steady "flash oriented" studio is perfectly fine), but make sure that the artist(s) there :

-does good, solid work
-complies with board of health regulations and standards (regardless of the local laws/ordinances or lack there-of)
-isn't a complete and typical "tattoo artist asshole" (The egos of some tattoo artsists are off the charts)

From there, start getting work done whenever you have spare cash. Make a point to get a mix of flash (if you find a piece you like), custom work, and pieces that are based on your own designs. This will help you guage the artist(s) and their ability.

Hang out and/or drop into the studio whenever you have free time as well. Don't be a nusance, just hang out, and be cordial. After a little while, as things start (hopefully) getting friendlier, just bring up that you happen to be an artist (just to reiterate) and have an interest in tattooing. Mention that you have a portfolio:

A good portfolio :
-15-20 of your best pieces
-Professionally put together in a nice portfolio (hit up an arts supply store or a place like staples/office depot, they aren't expensive)
-Make sure to present a range of your work (color pieces, paintings, drawings, charcoal sketches, ect. If you include attempts at tattoo flash, make sure that you present them with the linework to each piece/page)

Ask if he'she would like to check it out. if the artist says no, don't push the issue. Simply let it go for a week or 2, and casually bring it up again in conversation. if the artist STILL isn't interested, perhaps you should look into another reputable artist in the area. If they are interested, however, just make a point to bring your portfolio by the shop the next time you stop by.

From there, just play it by ear. The artist may be impressed, or he/she may tell you to work on your artwork a little bit. Don't get discouraged@ Ask the artists for their personal critique of your work, keep their suggestions in mind, and work on a few new pieces. After that, repeat the process outlined above.

I'm going to let you know this right now : It's a fun job, but the apprenticeship process is tedious. Be prepared to sit....a lot. I sat in the back of the studio 6 days a week watching my mentor work for about 6 months before he really gave me anything to do artwise (drawing customs, working on lettering, ect.), and then another 3-4 months before I even had a machine in my hand. Luckily, I didn't get stuck doing all of the horror story jobs (i.e. scrubbing toilets, mopping, ect. Some shops will expect this of you, others won't, hopefully you luck out like I did), just the typical "apprenticely duties" (organizing, drawing pieces, talking to customers, being the "up front" guy, making appointments, setting up/tearing down proceedure areas, scrubbing tubes,and so on).

Basically, just keep drawing daily. What you draw doesn't really have to be "tattoo art", but definately make sure to do some research on the evolution of Flash art, and the trends that have come and gone since the early 1900's

Sorry if this post was a little long, but i'm doing my best to be as thorough as I possibly can here to give all of the help that i can.

oh yeah, and make a point to never use the word "gun" Laughing
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timidchaotic

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2006 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CxCx, thank you so much, thats exactly what I was looking for, was the real advice around all the "well this might help if you" advice I get from everyone I ask. I'll keep all of that in mind, just one question, why is it always referred to as a "machine" instead of a "gun"? I've always heard tattoo gun in my life.
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Tebis

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a great forum, just a month ago the idea of becoming a tattoo artist came into my mind, I'm studying graphic design so according to cxcx advice I'm in the right way, well I have to become a tattoo artist friend but it is goin' to be easy for me since I know a few, the hardEST part is to be accepted!!!!
I'm goin' to keep in mind the portfolio and the medical knowledge, GREAT ADVICE CXCX!!!! And here's something to make fun of me, I was going to buy a machine Confused , hahahaha how stupid is that!?
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spideytat

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2007 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CxCx wrote:
From there, just start scoping out local shops and getting work done (if you already have a prefered local artist that's done work on/for you before, that's great). Make sure that the shop is a reputable studio. it doesn't have to be a big studio that only does multi-sitting customs and whatnot (a good, steady "flash oriented" studio is perfectly fine), but make sure that the artist(s) there :

-does good, solid work
-complies with board of health regulations and standards (regardless of the local laws/ordinances or lack there-of)
-isn't a complete and typical "tattoo artist asshole" (The egos of some tattoo artsists are off the charts)

From there, start getting work done whenever you have spare cash. Make a point to get a mix of flash (if you find a piece you like), custom work, and pieces that are based on your own designs. This will help you guage the artist(s) and their ability.


this is a good statement (or is it a pargraph hmm) anyway i found that before i was taken the least bit seriously i needed to get some good work done not just 2 small tattoos either a good amount of work so thats just a lil reminder lol
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InkSlinger

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spideytat wrote:
i found that before i was taken the least bit seriously i needed to get some good work done not just 2 small tattoos either a good amount of work so thats just a lil reminder lol


In my quest for apprenticeship I'm seeking out different artists whose styles I respect to get my first few tattoos ... that way each one is like a lesson. I love watching while they work .... and hope they don't get offended when I keep asking "what's that for? what's that for? why are you doing it like that????" Very Happy
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CxCx

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Inkslinger, One of the first thing that my mentor taught me was this :

When the client begins asking a large ammount of questions concerning the technical aspects of tattooing, simply responde with "Ancient Tattooing Secret". By the third time you answer them with that response, they will get the point and stop asking.

Now, me personally, I try to take a different tact. I typically answer the question as best i can without going into the specifics (machine voltage, needle groupings, wrist technique, ink dillution, ect ect ect).

Tattooing is kind of a "need to know" animal : I only tell the clients what they Need to know Wink
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ranger1968

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:09 am    Post subject: apprentice Reply with quote

hey, im 38yrs old, is that too old to become an apprentice? I have been drawing for about 25 yrs. Just never used skin as my medium
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BadWolf

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
hey, im 38yrs old, is that too old to become an apprentice?


Depends on how talented you are. I am 42, and have been tattooing for about 25 years....and learn something new every day. Are you such a person?
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CxCx

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jeez.....

Ok, to "Draznog" :

If you aren't a good artist (i.e. you can't DRAW), then why do you think DRAWING on skin is the profession for you? Is it because TV made it look glamorous? Is it because you have 1 small tattoo and you said to yourself "man, this guy just made 100 bucks in a hour, and it looked EASY AS HELL! I could DEFINATELY Do that!!".

If so, then do yourself (and everyone in the tattoo community, let alone all of the poor innocent victims that you'll be scarring up and leaving your permanent "almost-a-drawing" on) and just quit now while you are ahead. Do you only want to be a "flash monkey" your whole career? To be honest, there's nothing WRONG with that, per se, but most people are get bored with that VERY quickly. I know a couple guys that are machine builders 90% of the time, and when they do Tattoo, they are strictly "flash monkeys". They say that they really enjoy it. Me personally? It gets tiresome quick (especially when it's the same JD crowe "Tattoo Brand" flash OVER and OVER again Wink )

BTW there are no 'tricks of the trade", only PROPER PROCEDURES! This being the case, any "artist" that is taking on a apprentice that CAN'T DRAW :
A : is only after your money/ sexual favors
B : has no respect for the industry
C : more than likely won't even know what the TERM "Proper procedure" MEANS, let alone what they ARE when it come to tattooing
and that's all i have to say about that....

To ranger1968 :

My mentor has been tattooing for about 20 years now, and he didn't get his start until he was in his mid-30's. That being said, i've heard/read that it's harder for middle aged cats to break into the business (one of the meain reason being that they have a hard time apprenticing with/under people a bit younger than them) but it definately isn't a "Never Gonna happen" issue. If i were you, I'd just go about getting an apprenticeship the same when a guy 20 years your junior would : Put together a portfolio and start scoping out local shops. I hope everything works out well for you.
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lobsterman

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 10:18 pm    Post subject: Learning the way of the force. Reply with quote

I am new to this forum but feel the urge to pipe up.

I am a 33 year old fisherman in the Orkney Islands in Scotland,where the only ink shop is "fair" to say the least.

I have/had zero chance of training in a shop as the artists available to me I wouldn't let near my Dog.
I have always (to my mind) been an artistic fella and have had a passion for tattoo since i was 15.

I studied hard (skin anatomy,pathogens yadda yadda) for a year and then did what some of you guys put on a par with rapeing your grand mother and bought a starter kit.
for 6 months I left it in the box and tried to gather as much info as i could from experienced artists like yourself (online as no decent shop on these Islands) and found the same attitude everywhere i turned.
"scratcher" "fuck up" "need fixed" " get an aprenticeship" "Draw" "unclean" (I think you get the picture) and my confidence took a nose dive.
I practiced on ham and oven ready chickens etc and thought this is not too bad (quality of work).

So i "scratched" a friend then another,then another and word got round that I was a good clean safe artist!!!
Long winded story I Know and I have not given up my day job because I know and understand my limitations, (especially the fact i dont have a mentor to turn to) but I know now what I have and can achieve through hard work so that when my Ass falls out with crab fishing I can pursue my Art and dream further!

All I ask is that the "Experts" spare a thought for those with decent talent but limited options and kick them a little softer!
Thanks for your time guys.

p.s I aim to upload my work to my profile and I welcome both criticism and advice.

cheers,
Damien
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CxCx

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damien,

You mentioned "safe" and "clean". I'd honestly like you to elaborate. I'm not trying to be a jerk, i just want to know what your methods of sterilization are, and what constitutes as "clean" to you.
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lobsterman

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello there,

I practice what i beleive to be safe methods.
I am licenced (mobile)by my local council (Orkney Islands council) and sharps bins are provided and disposed of by my local health authority (Orkney health board)

My work station is washed down (green soap) and surfaces then barriered with shrink wrap. as are spray bottles ink holders etc.
I use alcohol wipes and green soap pre-stencil and green soap and 1 time small jars vaseline during sitting.

I use disp tips,razors, gloves,Ink sachets...etc

My grips/ironl are ultrasonicaly cleaned prior to auto clave with my small
Kavoklave2100 (probably not big enough) and wrapped before storage in clean plastic storage units.

I have nothing but positive feedback and I have fixed a few of the local "shops" work already

I hope this helps and may I add that I take more precautions (hygene wise)
than my mobile licence stipulates I should take.(which in itself is wrong)

The work itself I hope will improve with confidence and practice but as my first post states I do not have the advice options others may have (Isolated Island).

regards,
Damien
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BadWolf

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
My work station is washed down (green soap) and surfaces


Since when is green soap a HLD?
Do you know what a HLD is?


Quote:
All I ask is that the "Experts" spare a thought for those with decent talent but limited options and kick them a little softer!


So, let me get this straight:
If I want to become a doctor, and I have limitations, it is alright to learn on my own, and people should be easy on me when I screw up, or aren't as clean as I BELIEVE I am?
Is that how it goes?
First off, WHO IS LIMITING YOU?
There were no studios in my area when I started, either...I was the first. So, instead of crying that I was limited, and using that AS AN EXCUSE TO DO IT WRONG AND ENDANGER OTHERS, I WENT SOMEWHERE ELSE TO LEARN.
Goddamn!! I must be a total fuckin' GENIUS to think of THAT all by myself, huh?
The girl who I am helping to learn RIGHT NOW just picked up and moved about 600 MILES to learn.
So, please spare me the sob stories about self-limitation, and rolling with the kicks. You pay one way or the other...simple as that. You either learn the right way, or take the kicks as hard as people wanna give them.
This isn't just about doing slightly better work than the "other guy in town". If you believe it is, PLEASE QUIT. It's about doing it 100% right, or NOT AT ALL. And you may justify what you are doing because "people are happy"...but making fools happy is the easy part.
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lobsterman

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aah the big bad wolf I was waiting for you!

You have that spiel down to a fine art I see as you have used words to that effect in many other posts.
What the fuck do you think you Are?

Did you go to med school/Jedi school? Just what is it that makes you the Authority on this site for all things from art to blood bourne pathogens?
You act like your a Fucking brain surgeon!

For your information (Not that its any of your business as I do not know you from adam nor you me!) my limitations to travel 600 miles to sweep a shithouse floor are 2 very young kids and a family to provide for Which (though still none of your business) is logistically impossible.
But if you had taken a less offensive view of my original post I do intend to do this in the future.

I also find it amazing that you can devote so much time to trawl through this site to insult any poster who hasn't kissed your rump!
Where do you find the time to tattoo or conduct open heart surgery or whatever the fuck it is you do?
I would like to see your work (and i do not doubt it is good) but I wonder if you practice what you preach.
As i said I am licenced and clean and your quite welcome to come check anytime. but untill then save your bullshit,rotties and katanas for the kids who actually believe it or give a shit!!

I did not expect to be this defensive and apologies to any other posters for this outburst.

and as for the big bad wolf,I's'nt there a verified artists section for Artists to compare notes?
Or do you rate yourself as a bit of a Bully?!

I just think your a sad self obsessed person who should not belive they are the soul saviour of the tattoo industry!

Regards,
Damien.
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