Asked by Anonymous
I’ve been away for a few days, so I hope my timing isn’t off.
More is better when it comes to your portfolio…to a point. The drawings don’t need to be tattoo related; they just need to showcase your talent. It’s better to have 30 awesome drawings/paintings/sculptures than to have 200 so-so examples, so don’t fill your portfolio with work you aren’t proud of just to fill up space. I think somewhere around 30-50 quality examples of your work should be enough in most cases. Trust me, if they want to see more, they will ask!
As far as the payment thing goes, that’s a tricky question. My apprenticeship is “free” with no contract, and I work about 45 hours a week at the shop - unpaid, other than the occasional tips I get for scrubbing tubes. These types of apprenticeships are out there (I found one, after all), but they are not easy to find..and it’s getting harder as time passes. I would be wary of anyone asking for money to teach you, but they aren’t necessarily out to rip you off. If they want payment, then get a contract that lays out a teaching plan, how long the apprenticeship should last, any expectations they have for you outside of learning (ie:work), and what happens if you decide to bail. If you’re talented enough, and you have the right attitude, there will be someone out there willing to teach you without requiring payment…you just have to find them.
In my opinion, you should either pay to learn with minimal work (no tattoo schools), or you should work in trade for your education. Working, at least some, is necessary, as it teaches you about the trade along the way. If you’re paying (I’ve read $5,000 - $10,000 is fairly common), then you should be spending most of your time focused on drawing and developing your skills. Neither way is a shortcut, so prepare to spend 2 years (or more) as as apprentice. To me, having someone ask you to pay to learn in addition to working long hours for free is a rather insulting idea - I would steer clear of someone that is demanding both. Even if you don’t pay outright to learn, you can/will eventually spend thousands gathering all the tools and supplies needed to work.
Hope that helps!