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Wednesday January 13th, 2010 @ 2:57 PM

Filed under: Tattoos

Is there any specific way to find an apprenticeship? I have a portfolio and there a lot of shops in my area but I’m not sure what the best way to approach someone looking for a job and I don’t want to get scammed. I have found one before through a mutual friend but I cleaned the shop for months, learned nothing and had to leave when the guy starting hitting on me. He had only asked me to work at his shop because he likes young girls. I’m tired of hearing that the tattoo community is secretive and people are unwilling to share their knowledge etc. etc. No one I know who actually tattoos’ acts secretive and if no one was getting any apprenticeships then where are all these artists coming from? There’s a tattoo shop on every other street corner, these artists have to be coming from somewhere.

In the future, learning to tattoo will probably end up like learning to cut hair; you’ll pay for classes and end up getting your tattoo license and with luck be placed in one of the “tattoo shops on every corner”.

Until that point… these are the basic questions that need to be answered;

1. Why you?
You need to understand the amount of people who, on a weekly basis, walk into all of those tattoo shops and ask for an apprenticeship. Most of them have portfolios. Most of them have drive and determination. What sets you apart from them? What do YOU have to offer that everyone else who comes in doesn’t? What do they/don’t they see in you?
You’re asking them to train you to DO THEIR JOB. The likely hood that you’re going to be at their shop forever is silly, so other than a fee for apprenticing, what are they getting for training you to compete with them on a long enough timeline?

These are open ended questions; I can’t hope to answer them but it certainly goes to why it’s so difficult to obtain an apprenticeship.

2. Do you have a relationship with an artist at the shop?
Not a “relationship”, but… have you been tattooed there? Have you referred people to artists in the shop? Have you brought money into that shop or are you just picking them out of the phonebook?
You mention that the artists you know aren’t secretive, so try asking them to recommend you to the shop they work at as an apprentice.

3. “I’m tired of hearing that the tattoo community is secretive and people are unwilling to share their knowledge etc. etc.”
And tattoo artists are tired of people thinking that they are entitled to apprentice. You’re working against a system that’s been in place since the late 1800s; rules of protocol have been set up and stuck to. And while they’re slowly changing… you’re not likely to get too far with people who believe in that system by telling them what YOU think if it. I know artists who’ll make you learn how to use jigs to painstakingly make your own needle setups. You’ll do it over and over again until you get it right and as a reward for FINALLY getting it perfect, they’ll give you a box of presoldered needlebars and a slap on the back.

The best way to get an apprenticeship is to realize that NOTHING worth having is just handed to you. I have a friend that was a “counter bitch” (he even had a shirt that said that. In bright pink letters) for years before finally getting that apprenticeship. He worked his ass off to get a career that will be his for the rest of his life. He wasn’t tired of being told how secretive the tattoo world was; he was motivated enough to earn what he was given.

Build up a relationship with an artist. Bring them clients. Bring them your drawings. IMPRESS them. Put into tattooing as much as you hope to get out of it.

Posted by Shawn Porter | Permalink | Leave a comment | Trackback

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6 Responses to “Apprenticeships”

  1. Another reason its so hard to get an apprenticeship is BECAUSE there’s a shop on every corner. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen an artist take someone under their wing and have the apprentice get a job at a competing shop halfway through. There are so many good tattoo artists and piercers out there that are working at fast food restaurants because of the fifteen fly-by-night shops in their area; it almost makes you feel bad training new people.

    Cucuy on January 14th, 2010 at 12:43 pm
  2. I can definitely understand all this. The artist I go to has trained several people and gotten bit in the ass. He won’t take me on at his place because he has had far too many bad experiences with others. And I don’t want to be one of those “artists” tattooing people out of their living rooms for a quick buck. I have been in love with this art since I was too young to understand you could do it for a living. I do wish the artist I work with would or even could offer me a job but I’m not planning on jumping ship because he can’t. When it comes down to it I’m just not sure what I can say to a shop owner that he/she hasn’t heard before. “This is all I want from my life” doesn’t cut it.

    JadeBee on January 15th, 2010 at 1:23 am
  3. The unfortunate thing about the industry (atleast in my area) is that it’s almost too easy for any asshole to go on ebay, buy a cheap machine and become a ‘tattoo artist’. THREE shops have been opened up in the past year by people who have had no apprenticeships!

    The shop that I am currently working in had an apprentice bail on us and open a shop down the road. It’s a risk that alot of artists don’t want to take, and sometimes requires time that the artists don’t have. I was extremely lucky to get the piercing apprenticeship that I have. I had been pierced and tattooed in the shop a number of times and just kept talking to them about my interest in the industry and eventually, after getting to know both the owners and artists, they decided to take a chance with me.
    I hope that you can find a good shop that will hire you on, it’s HARD WORK, but it’s so worth it if you love the industry.

    kaitlyngrace on January 16th, 2010 at 3:35 pm
  4. Why is Shawn Porter always sarcastic AND offensive in his answers…dude keep it easy, relax…!

    Marc on January 29th, 2010 at 1:08 pm
  5. I approved this comment to ask; what was offensive about this response?

    It’s 19/19 favorable so apparently other folks weren’t offended.

    Break down what I said that was offensive?

    See… I didnt even call you sport. (that was sarcastic and offensive)

    Shawn Porter on January 29th, 2010 at 4:53 pm
  6. I’ve work at a tattoo shop since I was able to legally pierce. From 18 to now, which is 24. I got my apprenticeship for free. My boss is great, everyone I work with is awesome plus I have a say so over all other piercers. They work when I want them to work. I even have a tattoo apprenticeship whenever I want…why? Well, here it is..I know its confusing for those who don’t get it as easy. I was worth the investment. I was there 6-7 days a week for free during apprenticeships. Cleaning tubes, cleaning the shop..blah blah blah. What I am trying to say to all those trying. Especially girls(since being one and all)

    1. Don’t be dramatic and bring your home issues into the shop. No one cares…seriously. Its a tattoo shop. We’re all there to make art and money. SO DON’T BRING YOUR DRAMA. Especially if your a youngen, DONT BRING YOUR DRAMA AT ALL..waist of time..happens too often. I’m tired of it and won’t take on anymore female apprentices due to it. And guys that bring same issue..don’t want it.

    2. I’ve seen most girls fuck up their own apprenticeships due to their own whoreness..thanks girls…impressing us all over time. You ownly leave the dedidcated ones with a harder chance due to your skankness. CHEERS..heres to you sluts…lol. Keep up the good work.

    3. guys rule the tattoo world still for the most part. So its still going to be harder for the more talented girls especially when there are the less quallified ones giving blow jobs in the back. Luckily..I’ve never been in that spot, but been in the opposite. Pobably why I come so highly recommended by female and male tattooist and piercers alike. I don’t bs…its not a game..not a who’s cooler contest or anything like that. You get the job and keep the job because you really have that drive and want it. Always worked for me. I thought my boss just wanted me around for a cute face as well, but then I realized i brought in more people than the main tattooist. Pretty much comes down to attitude and professionalism. They don’t want you around for a reason if so, I’ve been around plenty of people fired over the yrs at our shop. And if you cant find a job elsewhere..probably not worth hiring. Just don’t espect to just walk in with a portfolio and get a job unless your work is worth hiring.

    4. You put your shop at risk if you mess up. Its not a joke. If they don’t think its good enough for them, they will let you know. Straight up..You should know(to the person who posted comment)after working at a shop even for a week. You can get a vibe off people. You either pull your weight or not. I’ve had people fired due to them not doing their job right. Its supposed to be a professional and sterilized inviroment, you either keep up with the standards and up to par or you don’t and mess up. Sucks your boss hit on you. Sounds to me like you went to an unprofessional shop. And if thats the issue and if your as talented as you think to get a job elsewhere then go for it because the place you were at before is a joke.
    You need to branch out and go as far as you can. There are a bunch of shops out there willing to hire talented girls dedicated to their art without them having to deal with their gross old bosses from the earlier times hitting on them. Gross. Where some sterile gloves you old dirty pricks your transfering deseases.

    liz on February 22nd, 2010 at 1:03 am

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