With the growing popularity of tattoos and the potential for high income, many people nowadays want to become a tattoo artist. Many of them make the mistake of buying a kit and practicing on their friends, which is very dangerous. Many of these people never become truly successful at tattooing anyway, and never acquire the skills necessary to compete in this highly competitive business. If you`re serious about becoming a skilled and competent artist, there are a few tips to it.
The first thing you need is raw talent. Someone who cannot draw or color inside the lines can never be a good candidate for being a tattoo artist.
Then you need to sharpen your raw talent to develop talent into skill. Skill can come from fine art classes, working with a fellow artist, learning technique from books, or all of the above. On top of that, you need to practice.
Once you are a competent artist on paper, you will need to build a portfolio. A portfolio is a case or binder containing examples of your art, to show your different skills.
The next thing you need is an apprenticeship. An apprentice is someone who learns a skill from someone else already skilled in the trade. Sometimes an apprenticeship can be free, but many times, they cost thousands of dollars. You will need to find a way to save or acquire the money needed for your training.
Then you need to find an apprenticeship, the one with a master you feel you can truly learn from, not someone just offering apprenticeships to make money.
In addition to need money for your apprenticeship, you will also need to be able to sustain yourself during training. Unless you are independently wealthy, you will need to hold down a regular job at the same time you are serving your apprenticeship. You will not be earning money in the shop during your training.
Once you are an apprentice, you will learn many skills from your teacher, most of them having nothing to do with actual drawing. You will learn how to clean your equipment, how to operate a tattoo machine, how to adjust your power supply, how to protect yourself and your clients from disease, and last but not least - how to correctly apply a tattoo. This can take many months to learn completely.
During your time as an apprentice, you will continue to practice and hone your drawing skills. You are not limited to only gaining knowledge from your teacher - you may also have the opportunity to spend time learning from other artists as well. Being tattooed is a good way to watch and learn the techniques of other master tattoo artists.
There is no formal graduation from an apprenticeship. Generally, the teacher decides when the students are ready to venture off on their own. Sometimes a contract signed at the beginning of the apprenticeship, and the terms will vary. However, as long as you are not under contract to continue for a certain length of time or prevented from working for a competing shop, you can decide to stretch your wings when you feel you have learned all you can from your teacher.
No matter how long you apprentice or how long you tattoo, you never know it all. There is always more to learn, new techniques to adopt, new ways to enhance what has already been done. Never be satisfied with mediocrity, and never allow yourself to become egotistical.
Getting an Apprenticeship
To find an apprenticeship within your means that will provide the proper training to get you into the business of tattooing. You are looking for an apprenticeship that will last long enough to provide you with the proper skills needed - not just in tattooing - but also in sterilization, proper cleaning, and business management. Among these skills, you may also learn things such as needle making, prepping, making stencils and every other aspect of the business. A complete apprenticeship cannot be accomplished in just a few months time. A good mentor will not even let you begin tattooing until you have learned all these other things.
Firstly, you must find a strong, able tattoo artist with plenty of experience, usually at least 5 years, preferably more. You obviously need to find one that is willing to take a budding new artist under their wing and train them. You will want to find someone that you believe you can get along well with, as you will be working side by side with them for an extended period.
Then, to show a prospective mentor your artistic abilities, you will need to carry along a portfolio of your best work. This can be drawings or paintings, but can also be pictures of wall murals, sculptures, or anything else artistic you have done. If you have had any formal training, bring along any certification you have received. This is not necessary though - if you have enough raw talent, your mentor will help you to hone these skills over the time of your apprenticeship.
A prospective mentor is going to be looking for someone with a lot of enthusiasm and a real love for the art. If you walk in with the attitude that they owe you something, you are sure to leave empty handed. Knowing at least a little bit about the business is also helpful, and it does not hurt if you have a few tattoos!
Although there are a few artists that still offer free apprenticeships, these are rare people. The other ends of the scale are the artists that are more interested in your money than providing you with an education. You will more than likely be looking for a happy medium between these two - a price you can deal with and make it worth the artists` time for training you. If you happen upon an artist that offers apprenticeship at no cost, you have found a real gem. Nevertheless, this will mean you will have to work very hard and be as dedicated to your training as they are.
Lastly, be sure to sign a contract before beginning your internship. This will protect you in the event that your apprenticeship does not turn out as you expected. Also be careful as not sign anything unless you agree 100% with the terms in the contract.