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Tattoo Apprenticeship: What to Expect and How to Thrive

by Jamie Wilson
man tattooing

Tattooing is an ancient art form that has grown in popularity recently. Many aspiring artists are drawn to becoming tattoo artists, but the path to becoming a professional tattooist is difficult. It often begins with a tattoo apprenticeship, a period of intense training and learning under the guidance of an experienced tattoo artist. In this article, we’ll explore what you can expect from a tattoo apprenticeship and how to thrive during this crucial stage of your tattooing career.

What to Expect from a Tattoo Apprenticeship

  1. Learning the Basics: A tattoo apprenticeship starts with the fundamentals. You’ll be introduced to the tools of the trade, from the tattoo machine to inks, needles, and hygiene procedures. You’ll also learn about the anatomy of the skin and how to work with different skin types.
  2. Observation and Assistance: Much of your early time in an apprenticeship will be spent observing and assisting your mentor. You’ll watch them work on clients, learning about design, technique, and customer communication. This stage is essential for building a strong foundation.
  3. Practical Experience: As you gain more experience, you’ll start tattooing on practice skins and perhaps willing clients under the close supervision of your mentor. Expect a lot of trial and error as you hone your skills. During your tattoo apprenticeship, you will become familiar with a wide range of tattoo inks, learning to select the right colours and types for different tattoo styles and skin tones.
  4. Hygiene and Safety: Maintaining a clean and sterile workspace is critical in the tattoo industry. You’ll learn about sterilisation, infection control, and safety protocols to protect you and your clients.
  5. Artistic Development: Most of your apprenticeship will focus on developing your artistic skills. You’ll create designs, work on your drawing and painting abilities, and explore different styles of tattooing.
  6. Customer Interaction: Learning to communicate effectively with clients is an essential aspect of the tattooing profession. You’ll gain experience discussing ideas, managing expectations, and providing aftercare advice.
  7. Building a Portfolio: Throughout your apprenticeship, you should build a portfolio of your work. This will be crucial when seeking a job or setting up your studio in the future.

How to Thrive During a Tattoo Apprenticeship

  1. Be Eager to Learn: Embrace every opportunity to learn from your mentor. Ask questions, seek feedback, and actively work to improve your skills.
  2. Practise, Practise, Practise: The key to thriving in a tattoo apprenticeship is practise. Tattooing is a hands-on craft; the more you practise, the better you’ll become.
  3. Build Relationships: The tattoo industry is a close-knit community. Building positive relationships with your mentor, fellow apprentices, and other artists can open doors to opportunities and collaborations in the future.
  4. Adaptability: The tattooing world is ever-evolving, with new techniques and trends constantly emerging. Be adaptable and open to learning new methods and staying up-to-date with industry advancements.
  5. Persistence: Rejections and setbacks are part of the journey. Don’t give up if you face rejection when seeking an apprenticeship or making mistakes during your training. Persistence is a valuable trait in the tattoo industry.

In conclusion, a tattoo apprenticeship is a challenging but rewarding path to becoming a professional tattoo artist. By knowing what to expect and following the guidelines on how to thrive during this stage, you can build a strong foundation for a successful and fulfilling career in tattooing. Remember that dedication, hard work, and a passion for the art are key ingredients in your journey to becoming a skilled tattoo artist.

Feature Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

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