How To Become a Tattoo Artist.
Did you watch all the advices from professional tattooers, read all the blogs and forms, and you still do not know how to start? Are you petrified with making the first line on your friend? You want to start the ‘proper way’ so no one calls you a scratcher! You love tattooing deep to the bone, but all the ways of starting seem to be almost impossible! Yet still you see plenty of tattoo artists everywhere, and you ask yourself a question: How did they do that? Are they superhumans?
If you want to know the truth and get serious advice on how to become a tattoo artist, then get your self a coffee and read this in-depth, a fully honest article that may be light in a tunnel that you need!
1. Start tattooing.
There is no way to be a tattoo artist without tattooing. As obvious as it is, as often as misleading it can be. Trough my career I have seen many artists being convinced that they can start to tattoo only if their drawing skills, tattooing medium knowledge, etc. reaches a certain level. Problem with this approach is that this starting level is being pushed away day after day because every day you are going to find new things to learn. And eventually, it leads to never starting tattooing.
In fact, tattooing is so hard that is doesn’t matter when you start, you’re going to fail anyway. When I started, I had years of drawing, and painting behind my belt, yet still, I failed with my first tattoo. All the artists failed with their first one, and the truth is that you will too! So the quicker you have it off your head, the better for you.
Also if you consider that tattooing is, in fact, constant striving for getting better, and you are never able to reach your goals fully, you will often have that failing feel. While in fact for someone else your work may be spectacular. Earlier you do your first 1000 mistakes, the better for you. The aim is to eliminate all the weaknesses. And remember you can’t eliminate something if you do not know about it’s existence!
Permanency of tattooing is not only an important factor for clients and collectors. It is an aspect that twists starting artists minds and scares them to death. And the more petrified you are, the harder it is to do anything. That is why usually the successful artists start at the early age. At this point, your mind is more concerned about the fun part of tattooing. The excitement of doing something new, experimenting, having a great friend that gives you the skin, maybe a little beer or two, crazy music in the background. The tattoo is done. It looks crap, but let's make it straight. Your friend was prepared for it. He is still happy, and you are just foolishly having fun. The act itself was crazy, didn’t produce any quality levels. But the most important step was taken. Now the career can start or die. But without that act, nothing could happen.
I started late. I was in my early 30ies when I did my first tattoos. The first ten of them were not the best. I know that. My friends knew it, yet they are still happy about being able to help me, and how having one of my first tattoos on their skin. But back then I was petrified! I could barely operate, and I genuinely believe that if I started earlier in my life, it would be ten times easier for me. Also if my journey began earlier, maybe I could be even further on my tattoo road today, winning an extra ten years or so!
I am not saying that you should butcher the skin of random people, have no mercy or compassion, forget the health precautions. All of those above are valid! There is nothing more important then cross-contamination prevention, health safety, and spending your time to prepare the best you can! But at the end of the day, you just want to be on your tattooing road already, instead of endless waiting for perfect conditions that will never exist. So in general, the quicker you start – the better.
2. Tattoo apprenticeship is an idealization, not the only way.
Tattoo apprenticeship is an approach being preached over and over again as an only proper way for tattoo education. Although it can be very beneficial and can lay down the fundamental business or health-related knowledge, it can also be destructive for your career and character of the future artist. Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that apprenticeships are all bad. I am just trying to show you that it is not the only way, and not exactly the best.
I always find it entertaining how many self-taught tattooers, who never had an apprenticeship, preach the tattoo apprenticeship way. Many superstars, great tattooers, master tattooers, guys winning international awards never completed an apprenticeship, and they are all still doing fine and achieving big successes in their careers. I never had an apprenticeship myself, nor my mentor. And that didn’t stop us from winning prizes, having my own studios with long waiting lists of customers, and being widely recognizable. I would even risk a theory that most of today’s finest tattooers never completed an apprenticeship fully. In my honest opinion, those who went through an apprenticeship, and preach that so strongly today, mostly do that for a reason of compensation for their suffering. So if they had to go through all that humiliations, years of bad work without a paycheck, struggling to survive, wiping the floors, etc. ; so you have to too. On the other hand, I strongly believe that it has been enough of that.
I want to repeat: tattoo apprenticeship is not all that bad. But do not let searching for apprenticeship stop you from what you love to do. The fact is, it is extremely hard to find a proper apprenticeship.
If we define good apprenticeship as a position where you are:
• working under good, experienced tattoo artist
• being taught art and tattooing efficiently
• being able to find time for drawing and survive
then your options are getting limited dramatically.
First of all, you have to find a good, experienced tattooer. Let me tell you - that type is rear! As I visit different cities and even see people on the street with their tattoos, I think it is safe to estimate that a maximum 10% of all tattooers are the good ones. Those will be the ones that really want to get better, progress, love their work, are not only concerned about money, have some experience and knowledge, and are providing real quality of work. Rest is a pure waste of time, and you do not want to study under them as there is simply nothing they can teach you, that you couldn’t get yourself in a few weeks of reading and watching tutorials online. The good tattooers will stay up to date with modern technologies, styles, and trends. While bad ones still will be deep in the middle ages of tattooing, providing service that is on a terrible level. So you want to make sure that you know who you are talking to because learning from a wrong source can cost you years of years of time. And it may be tough to remove some bad habits you can obtain.
The good ones, on the other hand, are obviously busy. They always have something to do, draw, prepare, and even if they are not tattooing at the present moment, those people usually have enormous responsibilities or just want to go and finally see their family. And believe me, I know something about it! I tattoo big pieces, I draw, write online, make videos and help artists online. It is an amazing amount of work and seems never to stop. So the good ones not really often have the time or extra willpower for an apprentice. It is usually better to hire a cleaner than have an apprentice that follows you all the time and asks questions, while you are thinking about something hundred times more important to you. That is the reason why I would estimate further that maybe 1 of 10 good tattooers will be willing to take an apprentice. That gives us 1% of chance, and if we make it even more real, you have to know that most of the positions are already taken so that one leaves us with something around 0.1% chance! Do you start to see why it is so hard to get a proper tattoo apprenticeship? Why some starting artists relocate only for a reason of learning?
But let us assume that you succeed with your 0.1%. Now the important factor is being taught and being taught efficiently. Do you remember your teachers from primary school? How many of them had a real passion for their subject? Maybe Chemistry teacher had it, and she was able to make you excited about every lesson and experiment happening in the classroom. But Physics teacher just followed the books, was a bit lazy, not always prepared, because deep inside he always wanted to be an aircraft pilot, he only never succeed on tests. So that situation can define your whole life, why someone becomes better at chemistry and worse at physics. And tattooers are not any different. Apart from having time for teaching, too teach correctly you have to have the proper mindset, motivation, see the higher good of passing the knowledge, molding the new artist. And this is not any more popular property along the tattooers that it is in any other job. In fact, there are definitely fewer artists like that than teachers!
I have seen great artists having apprentices that couldn’t squeeze any knowledge out of them. Inspiring, motivational, knowledgeable, helpful, caring, being able to teach and communicate in fundamental, organized way artist is a gem of the highest value! In my whole career, I have found only one person like that! And the apprentice position was already taken.
Now the third important factor of proper apprenticeship is being able to find time for drawing and getting money to survive. A common conception is that you will spend the whole day in the tattoo shop, doing stuff for free, helping, cleaning, doing all the necessary jobs and not being paid. So afterward you can go work at McDonald’s, or some other low-level job to provide for a living. Question is ‘when you are going to practice?’ At the tattoo shop, if you are lucky, you will get 1-2 hours of drawing or other practice. Tattoo shops are usually operating longer than usual service, so there will be plenty of cleaning work for you, and not leaving much time for training and learning. Afterward, you start a McDonald job, and you definitely can not practice anything or draw while you pack another BigMac or run around with Happy Meals for 20 kids having a birthday party. You come back home, and you are wrecked. There is no option of doing anything, anymore. You have to clean, prepare some food, and sleep because tomorrow is another happy day!
I do not know what is so appealing in this solution for tattoo apprenticeship preachers, but it doesn't look to me, like a life I would like to have. And I don’t want to wish anyone live like this. Honestly speaking I think this image, that is painted to us by this propaganda is a big lie. Because following this road is so crazy, that is logically impossible to follow. And for sure I do not believe that all the preachers of that road did precisely to the letter like they advise us. I do not think that thousands of artists around the globe did exactly as stated above. And you shouldn’t too! Yet you are being told that you should relocate, quit your job, leave safe home, move to some different country to start cleaning the floor under the guys you do not really know, that is not really helping you, then work on nights in the worst possible conditions and in the meantime try to survive and be creative. It is just not possible!
Maybe some individuals went through hell like that, but I can not see the reason why you should multiply that hardcore solution while others roads lead to much better results, and are more efficient. And trust me, I am not a lazy individual. My working week would usually be around 70-80h per week.
Maybe there are some great apprenticeship options out there, but I would estimate that they are so rare as 1 for a country, or 1 per state in the US. And your chances of getting that position are as high as winning the lottery. If you are extremely lucky, tattooers will help you, sharing the tip that they get by themselves, but this is rare too and doesn’t provide any predictability of income or comfort situation for learning.
3. Hold your ground.
Use your resources. Start to expand and do not do anything not related to art. This is my strategic response to the previous paragraph.
Hold your ground, look around and use your resources. This is a first the thing you should do. Look where you are at the moment, and how it can help you in your aim to become a great tattoo artist. What is your location? Do have a safe place to live where you do not need to worry about the rent? Maybe your parents, your boyfriend can help you with that? They will understand. If you start perusing your tattoo artist career in well organized, focused way, they will help you gladly. Maybe one of your friends has an available room, or garage, or a warehouse area that you could use for your art related jobs? Maybe someone works at the construction and can build a simple table for you to draw? Key is to look around, and get help from people who trust you, love you and will support you.
I started while I was living with my mother. I had temporary jobs from time to time. For the rest of I was learning, and getting better at painting. Also, my girlfriend helped me with a tiny apartment that had old coal heating, but I could use it for arts and creative stuff! So basically I could survive (no personal money though), and paint and learn as much as I wanted. How cool is that? Of course, many people tend to see me as a total loser at that time, but I was so focused on a long-term goal that I didn’t even care.
I also used my friends for posing so that I could do life drawings. I often gave away the final paintings, because I was more interested in progress than in collecting those first pieces. My friends keep them now happily as a memory of my journey and our friendship, and always mention those times as we meet.
Listen, before you relocate, look around and judge what how valuable are your surroundings and resources. Many great multi-million businesses and spectacular artists started in garages. And then on the top of that, if you have a tattooer around, that you could visit from time to time, to talk to him, or get tattooed, you will quickly notice that your progress is happening and you are moving in the right direction.
Next step is to start expanding. As you are getting better and better with your art skills, you will be able to make small paid jobs. They not only will give you money (that you can spend on more learning material and courses!) but will teach you the basics of customer relation, and will raise your self-esteem. No one can endlessly hit the wall without a little pat on the back. You need some positive response as an artist. You need confirmation of your value, and this can only be given by someone paying for your art or skills. I will never forget how I felt after selling my first painting and after my first art show! I felt like I could move mountains. Nothing could stop me. And you will need this too. Tattooing is such a hard medium, requiring to obtain enormous amounts of knowledge, that without growing a bit of self-esteem it is impossible to survive.
You can do many things. In today world options for creative people are endless. You can draw portraits, work on web designs, do wedding photography, illustrate for online services, paint oil paintings, and much more. Whatever that is creative, and adds to your skills is an excellent way to go. And believe me, it will resonate later in your tattoo artists career perfectly. For instance, things that I did, when I started were: web-designing, wedding photography, and oil paintings. All of them influenced my working process today greatly. Now as a professional tattoo artist I know how to take proper reference pictures for portraits, or designs, I know a lot about light, I use painters approach to my tattoos, I know Photoshop very well, and I was able to build this website myself. So while other guys were packing Big Macs and French fries, I got serious knowledge that I use today on a regular basis!
Also, money that you get from your creative work you can invest further in your career. You can pay for new software, buy better tools, buy yourself tattoo machines, needles, pay for courses online, travel to get tattooed by masters, and much more. I paid for my tattoos with that money, bought myself my first original copy of Photoshop in time when other tattoo artists were using piracy versions; I took an online, direct course with Shawn Barber about the business of art (BTW: I was the only one from my country). All of those nice things started to happen because I was focused on my goals, I used my resources thoroughly, and I began to expand.
My additional advice would be not to do any job not related to art if you can. After all, the reason why you hold your ground is to learn, right? So building works may work well for a few days to get you some money, but you should come back to creative tasks as soon as possible because they get you to your goal of being a tattoo artist.
4. Get tattooed.
This is probably the most straightforward advice and the easiest thing to do, that can teach you a lot. Although I know many tattooers that do not have any tattoo or have just one, it will be beneficial for you to get tattooed.
Go for the best tattoo artist around you. Go for tattooing in a studio, not at conventions. It creates the best situation for observational learning, and a possibility to ask simple questions. With the first tattoos it will be hard for you to break through the professional wall into a private zone, so be prepared that some of your answers might not be answered. After all, it is a tattooing situation, and an artist has to make sure at first that he makes great art for you. But if you play that smart, with respect to the man and his or her job, you will be able to get valuable feedback, have your portfolio reviewed or even have some crucial questions answered immediately. I believe this situation is ten times more professional then old school tattoo apprentice approach and can work magic.
First thing, you are paying for tattooers time. That shows your respect for his art and his time. You do not want something for free, to be handed to you as a gift. You are willing to pay for it, and that separates you from hundreds of people immediately. I have seen many people wanted to work for me or learn from me, but they didn’t show interest in getting a tattoo from me. Now imagine that you are a tattoo artist, and two people are coming to you asking for your advice. Number one is someone with a portfolio straight at the door, he does not care much about you, all he cares about is how you can get him to another level, and basically, he wants your knowledge and experience. Person number two, on the other hand, comes for a tattoo, appreciates your art, is willing to pay for your time, and only then asks politely for help. Who do you help? I think it is pretty apparent that person number one doesn’t stand much chance against number two. Straight to the point, why should I help someone who does not respect me enough to invest in my art?
So get tattooed, and be respectful. I would also recommend choosing smartly tattooed place. If you go for a forearm or center upper thigh that gives you fantastic opportunity to watch the master at work for substantial session time, so approx. 4-8h. That gives you plenty of experience, and will answer immediately by simple observation all the questions that people ask online: how deep do you go, how fast your machine runs, how fast you move yours hand, which inks and machines you use, how you make stencil stay for longer and much, much more! You may learn much more than you could ever expect. And if you multiply this effect a few times, you have a pretty good education source. It was precisely what I did, and it helped me a lot. I probably wouldn’t achieve what I have now if I didn’t get tattooed. I met fantastic artists with whom I was able to organize cool events, later on, I got support from them, and I learned crazy much! Hardest questions that I searched online for days were answered naturally during tattoo session chats. So show respect, and get tattooed! If you will be lucky enough, and prove yourself as a valuable gain for the tattoo community, you may even get a mentor. It is a dream situation and can speed up your learning curve dramatically.
5. Know cross-contamination and health safety techniques.
Working different way, not through tattoo apprenticeship doesn’t release you from the obligation of learning cross-contamination and health safety techniques. It is the sharpest sword against the self-taught artist used by so-called pros or as I call them artists who are not willing to share real knowledge, because deep inside they are not good enough to survive the competition. Luckily for you, cross-contamination subject and safety techniques in its core are pretty simple and can be learned and understood in a reasonably short time. There are plenty of books and articles about those subjects. You can even search in the local community and ask medical professionals for help to give you some book titles. If you go that way, I guarantee you will be safe, and your knowledge actually can be much broader and detailed then what most of those pros have. After all, this aspect of tattooing is not that complicated. The basic ideas behind it could be handed to you in one day only!
The execution itself, everyday tasks in a tattoo shop, workspace preparation and practical use of those general rules may require from you a bit of experience and getting good habits. A perfect trick to master that is to record yourself pretending that you are tattooing. Afterwards, you can play video slowly, analyze and remove all the mistakes for the future. I know many tattoo artists who never did an apprenticeship and are super clean and know procedures perfectly. If you want to be a tattoo artist, you can learn it too. And contrary to what is common knowledge, this is probably the easiest aspect of your future work.
Some countries require special training courses or licenses for tattooing. Before you start you want to make sure of the law status in your area and that you follow it. But they are usually simple tasks that you can complete to be registered. Again, contrary to what is commonly preached.
Also, you may be shocked, but catalogs and official producers material for cross-contamination prevention often contain serious knowledge. Through years of work and experience, I discovered that I know more about prevention techniques by merely reading labels and producer’s materials. For example in most shops, surfaces are sprayed after each customer quickly and then wiped out without waiting. That proves that no one read the label that states clearly time that surface must be exposed to disinfecting liquid to kill bacteria and viruses thoroughly. If you go deeper, you can download plenty of valuable material from producer’s websites. That goes for specification sheets, and procedures as well.
So to summarize this section, I do not agree that self-tough artists hold less knowledge then trained tattoo-apprentice-way ones. Also, there is no excuse for artists (self-taught or apprentice-taught) to not know cross-contamination procedures and health safety techniques, especially at current manufacturing state when almost everything used in tattooing can be disposable.
6. Work in tattoo factory.
Saying that working in tattoo factory is a good idea, starts with an assumption that you already did a few nice looking pieces, and you are ready to present them. That may require of few good months of tattooing or probably a year. After that time you should have something that you will be able to present to the shop owner.
Sell yourself as a tattoo artist and have no shame on it. Do you remember what I said in the second part of this text, about most of the tattooers? That is right, 90% of them represent nothing special. Actually, if you worked hard, learned for a year and did all the road previously stated, at this point, you might be actually at their level or even a bit higher. So have no shame, and apply for a job.
You can’t apply for good a shop yet. You do not possess skills, knowledge, and a portfolio for that. Good, reputable shops will have high standards requirements that you are not able to meet yet so that they will stay out of your range for a while. But that doesn’t mean you can’t progress. You can. You need a different place and different jobs.
What I call tattoo factories are big shops, fully commercialized, doing popular work that is on the highest demand, and in vast quantities. You will often find that those places are working on shifts (like in a factory indeed), are high on stress, and hire many artists. Employment rotation in those places are usually pretty quick, as it is hard to stay motivated and creative for a long time in those kind of conditions. But this kind of place will hold many advantages for a starting tattoo artist. Remember, you are going to work there only for a while. It is not a permanent situation. You have to keep the bigger picture.
6.1. It is easy to get hired.
Which is perfect news for you, as at the starting stage you do not have a solid portfolio of breathtaking pieces. It is enough that you show, you can do essential work, and reasonably clean. And the word ‘reasonably’ is crucial, because no one in those places is usually able to tell the difference. Just look for places with good hygiene reputation. You do not want to end up in some terrible, dark place where Hepatitis is crawling on the walls everywhere.
So you show your portfolio, and you get your first tattoo job. Great! That situation automatically promotes you to tattoo artist working from an officially approved tattoo shop, and that can open some doors for you. Now stay focused, remember your big dreams and goals. And each day come to work trying to make the best tattoo possible. Seriously, nothing less than that. Work, master every aspect. Tattoo shop can be not the best, but that shouldn’t stop you from striving for perfection. Learn through observation and experimentation. Even some old timer that can’t do much can have one unique technique that may be valuable to you. Do not overestimate the power of experience, learn those little things. Also, experiment. With the small, simple tattoos you can find process solutions, machines, tools that later will add to your range of skills. Think about it as a game. The better you play it, the better player you will become in the end. And respect all the customers. They are paying for your learning experience, and in the future, they may provide a basis for your more significant and more serious work.
At this point also your character as an artist will start to develop. Make sure that you remove wrong attributes like only caring about money, no respect to tattoo pieces, colleagues or client, jealousy, superstar character and similar. Add to your character all the best advantages like: being reasonably humble, helping others (colleagues and clients), respect and compassion, support and friendliness. Remember you are not the place you work at, you are what you decide you are!
People will start to notice your hard work, and sooner then you think you will be busy with your tattooing, which gets us to another property of tattoo factory.
6.2. Speed in promoted, pushing you to the edge of your skills.
Those kinds of shops are raised around the idea of making money. It is their reason to exist, the deep mission in mind of the owner. Sad as it is, it helps to develop excellent artists by putting them in modified stress conditions. I talked about this with many great artists I know, and we all agree that if we didn’t go through this stage in our lives, it would be much harder for us today. I think that this stage of my career, tattoo factories time, hardened my character up and allowed me to develop some serious skills that make my life much easier now.
The idea is simple – you have to work fast and efficient. The shop can not loose. So if you are slower, work is given to someone else, or you stay super late, and there is not much time left for your personal life. That puts an artist into stress. Tattoos seem to be simple, although the technique is usually not there yet, so situation requires an immediate solution. You will have to learn to survive. You will have to optimize, be able to recognize different skin types, choose the proper needle, grip, machine combination almost instantly, prepare and clean the station quickly and safely. You will encounter people losing consciousness, many observers going into your station, hundreds of problems you haven’t know they even exist. And you will have to learn how to deal with them quickly and thoroughly.
This kind of work will give you a training that is of enormous value for a tattooer. Because I went through all of that, I do not even think about the right needle size today, and I do not wonder what kind of skin my customer has, and how to approach it. Those processes go in my mind so quick that I do not even notice them. Instead of that, I am aware of design, values, edges and literally, I can paint on human skin without struggling with tools at all. But to obtain experience like that you have to be put on stress completing a big volume of work under the clock. It is the best way.
6.3. You can earn money, get better, invest in yourself more.
At this point, you will have tons of experience that none of the apprentices following a regular road could even see. But what is even cooler, at this point you will be able to earn money. And that money is not for your fun or being spoiled, but you can start investing in your craft.
After all those years of tattooing, I can tell you: tools, and education matters. There is no option of going into the best players level without having both of them. And for that you need funds.
For tools, you need to have enough, so you do not worry about the price of the needles, machines, power supply, special ointments, foams, bandages and all that stuff that makes your life easier and let you tattoo better. Look, when I tattoo I do not care how many needles are open on my station, nor how big are my ink caps. I take whatever is needed to achieve the best results. And if opening my station was expensive, then let it be, because the end product – my art, makes it worth it.
Same goes for education. When funds start to flow to your account not only, can you afford better machines, but you can start learning from the best. You can travel for training, best courses that happen on the conventions are open for you now, you can learn online from top tattooers and artists in their fields. You can buy books, tutorial videos, and other precious materials. It is all starts to be possible now.
In the end, you still will be on the edge of starving like at the beginning. But now you are sucking the knowledge with speed of a vacuum cleaner. Your progress can go over the roof now, and seriously, great things will start to happen with a bit of determination and good character.
7. Find a mentor.
This is a big one. A mentor is a man who has much more experience than you, had seen a lot, did all of that what you want to achieve and can provide you with insights that no one else really can, and that you may not even think off. I had a mentor for my starting years, I was a mentor for a few artists, and I am a mentor for a few people now so I can tell you a bit more about it.
Mentor is like a VIP ticket for one of those super trains. You can go to your destination point usually, using your car or motorcycle, have an O.K. experience and a long journey. Or you can go with your mentor with his train VIP compartment, get to the same destination in half time, in ten times higher comfort, get some nice chat on the way, and maybe meet some other cool guests in his compartment. Because mentor is a man who already been where you want to be, he knows direct answers. And he can provide them to you without much effort, while to figure out the same thing it could take you years.
When I started with oil painting, I was learning everything myself, independently. And I remember I was doing different color palette mixtures. I decided to do that to discover new mixes of color (great technique BTW.). So I was doing that, and a few days later I saw a VHS painting tutorial from Richard Schmidt (he is a living master in oils). And there was some question from the public: ‘Are you not afraid that, when someone is studying under you, he may get habits that will make his works look the same style like yours? So maybe it is better to learn alone!’
I will never forget Richard Schmidt’s answer. He said: “We are all different people. The style will be grown through hard work and different inspirations. But I can shorten this learning path for you. For instance, if you want to mix a basic skin tone, you go for an Azarlin Crimson, Yellow Orche, and a bit of Titanium White. And I can tell you that, like this. But if you were to discover that alone, it could take you a whole year to invent that”.
And when I saw that video, I discovered this mixture a few days before, by doing my palette experiments. And it took me exactly one year to get to that point! Precisely what Richard Schmidt said!
Mentor – student situation is a different way than apprenticeship. It is more serious, and we can communicate better. There is a real intent in passing the knowledge, for greater good or benefit of both parties. But the direction is set on progress and benefit instead of using someone as a slave. In mentor - student relation, even the act of chatting together is essential as it provides insights for the student from an entirely different point of view, and let him or her adjust their perception. Especially in fine arts and tattooing, this is an invaluable help!
I would like to encourage you to try that for yourself. You can always drop me an email about it, as I still may have some time for students.
But it is much larger than you and me. I think this way of learning provides real progress and real value.
I remember when my mentor asked me to do stencil to one of his works, to prove me that perception is a matter of training. I did the best I could, being sure that this is such a detailed and great stencil. Then he took it in his hand and pointed one by one approx. 20 mistakes that I did, and he did it like a machine gun. Methodical and with proper explanation.
You can find a mentor at any stage of your career, but I would recommend doing that after you had some experience in tattooing already, as it will be the most valuable then. You also want to make sure that you are really picking a right person who not only is experienced but has a strong ethical spine and is inspiring with new ideas to you. (if you think we could fit together well, please drop me a line)
In this article, I tried to show you that there are alternative roads to what is massively promoted in media and tattoo society as a “proper way to became a tattoo artist”. The tattoo world always loved to whiten itself through the history, but there are many problems and darker areas.
Education is still one of them, even that a lot of good had happened in the past twenty years. I think one of the common problems is guarding the knowledge against young ones and covering that under the cape of providing information only to the “worth ones.” The trouble is, as in many other areas in life, with who makes the decision which person is “worth it” and which one isn’t. Businesses of little people often influence those decisions.
I always believed in sharing of experience and wisdom. Only that way we can benefit as a society, and grow stronger with our beloved art. And those who are ready to abuse this fantastic job, they will abuse it anyways. At least maybe they will be able to find a bit of information and not fail so dramatically.
No, thanks. I love my hamster wheel.
It is my mission to make your road a bit easier than my was. If you find that material valuable please share, link and send to your friends who may also benefit from it. Comment, as I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.