*Katia Somerville is currently training her lovely apprentice Kylie, and has no plans to take on another apprentice in the near future. *
Here is some advice we hope you can find helpful when searching for a tattoo apprenticeship.
We wish you the best of luck with everything!
Find an artist who you like, and get tattooed by them. Get to know them (vice versa) and build a relationship with the artist and studio, or see if there’s a receptionist position available.
If you email an artist about an apprenticeship inquiry, address them specifically, and explain what draws you to wanting THEM as your mentor as opposed to other artists.
What do you like about the artist’s style???
Show that you’ve done your research and have been following them for a while. Adding a personal touch to your emails goes a long way when asking an artist to be your mentor.
–> Connection is a huge part of the tattoo lifestyle, it is therefore important to show your authentic self to the world and the artist you hope to be your mentor. (Otherwise, the artist just thinks you sent the same email to 50 other artists and they may just delete it.)
Tattoo artists usually teach those they connect with on some level. Tattooing in most shops is considered to be a “Family Affair”.
The more time and effort you put into a studio and the culture at that studio, the more it can reflect in the types of clients that are seeking you out when you first start.
The more time you spend in the studio networking and meeting people, the more people are open to have you tattoo them while you are still apprenticing.
How do people support themselves financially during their apprenticeship???
Most often, they usually have another job on top of their apprenticeship duties. You will want to look for a job with a lot of flexibility. Financial stability is always something else to consider when thinking about becoming an apprentice.
Everything an apprentice does can in some way affect their mentor and the studio they are apprenticing at.
An apprentice needs to be someone the mentor can trust, whose behaviour is (in and out of the shop) compatible with the mentor’s lifestyle and brand.
Being committed to your artistry and your education is a HUGE part of your apprenticeship.
Being a tattoo artist is a business that takes serious art skills, technical skills, knowledge of human anatomy, knowledge of skin and how it heals, interpersonal skills, retail skills, people skills, and customer service skills.
Being an artist can come with a lot of introversion, but at times you will be required to show your extrovert side when you are dealing with the public.
Most artists only mentor someone who is loyal and willing to stay with the shop for many years after the apprenticeship is over (apprenticeships typically last for approx. 2-3 years)
The apprentice must find time every day to draw (DRAW, draw, draw, and keep drawing). Preferably drawings are with a pen for line work and watercolours with a brush for the colour/shading. Whatever works best for you, but always keep drawing and honing your artistic style.
If an apprentice is taught thoroughly, that apprentice will become a very successful tattooist and businessperson. You should know health & sanitation, how to communicate to clients (specifically about process and pricing), tattoo culture, how to create/make/place a stencil, how to pick the best location for the design you have created, how to actually tattoo a persons skin, how to have the best social media presence, among so much more.
A properly trained apprentice will become a representative of the tattooing community for the rest of the world. An improperly trained apprentice becomes exactly what all the negative stereotypes of what a tattoo artist is or what they can be.
The tattooing medium is not easy, it is complex and difficult to learn properly.
What IS easy is learning how to tattoo at a marginal level…learning how to do mediocre tattoos IS easy and can be learned in several months. If you want to be the best artist and tattoo artist you can be, you will want to train for a year AT LEAST, preferably more.
Many places that agree to take apprentices will ask for a large payment, and will perhaps not give the best education.
DO YOUR RESEARCH. Pick a mentor who you resonate with. You want your mentor’s lifestyle and style to align with you are wanting to grow with.
There are tattoo schools in the United States and other parts of the world that could help to get your foot in the door. However they can be costly and may not provide the most thorough education. Hands on education can be the best education when wanting to be a tattoo artist.
There is no denying the way social media plays into every persons life. Understanding how to use social media is key in being an artist that wants to grow and trying to get your name/art out there.
ALWAYS being fine tuning your Instagram/Facebook account. Be mindful of the type of presence you are putting out there, as this is how clients can find you and try to relate to you.
Social media is the most common (and helpful) way to get your clients. Make sure you are only posting the absolute best quality pictures of your tattoos and art.
We hope you were able to find answers to some of your questions about your apprenticeship.
If you have anymore, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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