Tattoo Apprentice: What You Need to Know

Updated on March 19, 2020
jsngoodrow profile image

Jason Goodrow, otherwise known as "the Goodboy," is a tattoo artist offering free advice.

Gaining a Tattoo Apprenticeship Is Hard Work

The world of tattooing and the colorful individuals that implement them are in a league of their own. Tattooing or the "marking" of the body has been around as long as man has been on this planet, and various ways to modify the body have been created over that long course of time. In our modern time frame, much has changed; from the types of equipment used to produce tattoos to the types of artwork now being produced on the flesh. If you're looking to pursue a career as a tattoo artist, you need to have more than just artistic talent, you need LUCK and DETERMINATION!

Getting Started

There are several things to know before going on the hunt for a tattoo apprenticeship. One of the first things I can tell you is, be prepared for rejection. It is highly unusual for a tattoo artist who has just met you to take you under their wing and begin training you. I have never met an artist that has told me otherwise, and the story is usually the same, " I don't have the time to train you" or "I already have an apprentice, check back next year". There is a way around this, or at least a more practical approach to inquiring about an apprenticeship. You need to build a working relationship with the tattoo artist, if you are an artist, put together some flash and inquire if he/she would be interested in buying some. Be prepared for rejection, but if the tattoo artist sees that you have skill, he/she may shoot the breeze with you, and while the first visit may be a bust, come back again later with new flash so that they can see your serious, and that you are producing new artwork, this will usually impress any artist and new boss.

Professional Portfolio

Understand that a portfolio is the most important factor in presenting your work to others, especially when looking for a tattoo apprenticeship. Take the time and research the style of layout you want to present your work. You as the creator of your own art will know what your best pieces are, so make sure they are in the front, and make sure they are complete. If an artist does take the time to look he/she doesn't want to waste their valuable time dealing with an incomplete unorganized mess. REMEMBER if it is in a professional format, you will be treated on a more professional basis, if not, then do not bother walking through the door.

Tattoo Apprenticeship Approved

Okay, so you finally proved yourself worthy of a tattoo apprenticeship, congratulations. Most credible shops are going to have a contract with specific details about what you will learn from them, as well as what will be expected of you. Hate to break it to you, but you will probably clean the first year of your apprenticeship. If you already have strong artistic skills you are ahead of the game in that department, but learning the mechanics of the tattoo machines, and understanding the dynamics of human flesh will be just some of the hurdles you will endure.

Stick with it, some shop owners went through a similar process they are relating to you, while it might seem unconventional, it makes sense to them and you will not be disappointed when you are finally pushing ink doing what you have always dreamed of.

© 2012 Jason Goodrow


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    • profile image


      13 months ago

      Whenever I'm asked about apprenticeships, I always try to warn youngsters about studios that might offer an apprenticeship but they're only doing it for the money. This often means it's short lived and they don't offer you a job when they're done with you. Sad, but often true.

    • jsngoodrow profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason Goodrow 

      8 years ago from Washington State

      Yes skin is a very elastic and interesting part of the body, so art work developed by means of pen, paint or pencil will be very different when trying to apply that to a persons body. Many would be tattoo artists find crossing over to skin as an artistic medium very difficult and often times give up. Tattooing takes more than just artistic talent it takes technical skills and a complete understanding of the dermal layers involved with producing a quality tattoo. Thank you for your comment!!!

    • Ciel Clark profile image

      Ciel Clark 

      8 years ago from USA

      Very interesting... I can see that it would be hard to practice on skin even with a great portfolio!

    • jsngoodrow profile imageAUTHOR

      Jason Goodrow 

      8 years ago from Washington State

      Thanks for the comment and yes first impressions go a million miles in this industry.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Oh this is interesting but you are right not all people would take you in. But if you could make an impression that may help! :)

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. Read and vote this way


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