If you are in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, and you’d like to help out an apprentice by getting a tattoo, hit me up! Shoot me a message on Tumblr, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Please send your contact info, and include a description (or reference material) of what you would like to have done, as well as the location on the body. I’m currently limited by size, location, and days to tattoo, but I will be able to do more as I progress. If I am not currently able to do the work you are looking for, I will put you on my waiting list and contact you at a later date.
Right now, I’m looking to do softball sized tattoos (or smaller) on a nice meaty area during Tuesday evenings. I cannot tattoo areas that are boney and/or flexible; such as feet, ankles, ribs, abdominal area, neck, etc. All tattoos are free, for a limited time only, but tips are always welcome.
Time to dust off the ol’ blog!
The last few months have been quite busy, but I’m back, and now I’m tattooing! This guy was my very first tattoo. It took a hell of a long time to finish, but the amount I learned during the process was amazing.
We’re planning on expanding this to a comic book style leg sleeve in the future, so I didn’t want to add any background until we worked out the other panels. It’ll be full of silly characters that play off of Batman. Eventually there will be a Man-signal in the sky behind Manbat…I can’t wait!
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!
I’m tired, very tired. My first week at Cat Tattoo consisted of a lot of the things you would expect from a new apprentice. I greeted customers, answered phones, scrubbed more tubes than I can count, mopped floors, and cleaned toilets. Someone has to do those things, and that someone is me. The days are long, and I come home each night to shower and pass out so that I can do it again the next day.
I’m happy, very happy. My first week had me laughing more than I can recall doing in a very long time. Oh, the stories I could tell, but shouldn’t. The people that I work with are nothing short of amazing. All of the artists are very talented, humble, and helpful. I spend hours talking and laughing with Ashley, who works at the front counter, as we essentially share the same duties at the moment. While I certainly have moments where I’m working hard, there is also a lot time for us to sit and relax and enjoy some company.
In a way, what I’m doing now is similar to getting a job in the mail room of a company to eventually work your way up the food chain. I have to start from the bottom. Other than being able to stand for a moment or two over an artist to glimpse at what someone is working on, I’m not involved in any part of the tattooing process. That will come later, after I’ve mastered the business end of working in a tattoo shop. I’m not in any huge hurry, as I know it will come, and I’ve got plenty to learn.
Asked by secondfamilyhc-deactivated20110
Thanks! It’s really no bother, I wish people would ask me things more often. :D
There are a lot of ways to get in contact with shops. Because I am planning to move across country, I had to keep it mostly to checking out websites and sending out emails. Prior to that I was doing emails, phone calls, and showing up at doors at local places.
At some point in time, they will want to meet you in person, but just showing up without announcement can cause problems. I would recommend you call first and ask about coming in to show your portfolio. It’s almost always the shop owner that will be apprenticing you, so you will want to talk to them. Do your homework and find out who that is ahead of time. If you decide to contact by email, make sure you include a link to a digital portfolio ( www.deviantart.com is free and easy to set up).
Most places worth learning at will already have an apprentice, so don’t let that stop you. You want to get your art in front of them, and make sure they know you’re serious and are willing to wait for a spot if you need too. Persistence is key in this process. Keep in mind that a “no” now doesn’t mean “no forever” unless you’re a jerk. If you get a no, ask how you can improve, and then do what they suggest. Keep improving your portfolio and go back.
A few words about choosing a shop: look for a place where you feel like you will grow as an artist. Check out the portfolios of not only the owner, but the other artists in the shop. If the portfolios look like shit, that’s what you will learn from them…shit. Don’t lower yourself to that. If you walk in and the shop looks dirty (especially if you see they aren’t using proper barriers), run away.
There are a lot of ways to put your portfolio together, so don’t stress too much about it. I prefer to keep similar subject matters and/or styles together. In my case, my portfolio had new art, old art, and sketches (in that order)…and within each of those I grouped them by subjects. If you can provide the sketch that goes along with the finished piece, then do that for a few of them (not for all). I would include several pieces of tattoo flash that you drew, but you don’t have to make that your whole portfolio. If you have worked in several different mediums, show it. If you’ve done 3D work, show it. Show your best work - the cleaner, the better. It all goes toward showing what you’re capable of. Photos and print are OK to use if you need to, but I would also include several original works as well. The one thing you can probably skip is digital art…the skills used in digital art don’t translate as well to tattooing.
The way you look and act can be just as important as your art (or more, sometimes). Show up in what you intend to wear if you get to work there…ie: casual and clean. Don’t have an attitude, it’s a sure way to get a no. Keep in mind that they had to work hard to get where they did, and you will have to work hard to earn the knowledge they have.
I may as well add that most places will require that you treat your apprenticeship as a full time job. It’s a job that pays in knowledge and not cash. If you can’t afford to work 40 (+) hours a week for free, you’re going to have a very difficult time finding an apprenticeship. In a traditional apprenticeship, you will be spending a LONG time earning your keep before you even get to touch a tattoo machine. Paid apprenticeships are becoming more and more common (as in, you pay them), but I would avoid those if you can. A lot of those places are interested in your money and not in turning out a quality tattoo artist.
I just noticed you got a tattoo kit. I must add: Please, PLEASE don’t tattoo yourself or friends. Scratching on yourself and friends will shut the door to apprenticeship in most places, for many good reasons. The best use for that kit is to replace the tubes with a pencil to draw with the weight, you might as well - you’ve already bought it, but I would honestly just get rid of the rest of the kit. You can teach yourself a lot of bad habits without meaning to. I understand the temptation, but it’s not worth it. Everything else you will learn in an apprenticeship.
If you’ve got more questions, send them my way. I’m happy to answer what I can.
The whole “language” rant last night (early this morning) was brought on after I had done a search for “tattoo apprentice” to check out some other people what are going through what I’m about to. I ended up coming upon a rather large forum thread filled with people looking for an apprenticeship…or bashing the idea. Nearly every poster had problems stringing more than 2 or 3 normal words together in a row.
Rage was a bit of an understatement, but it wasn’t totally just about the way people “speak” on the internet. I had actually erased about 1/2 of the rant post because it was going off on a whole new tangent.
These people, scratchers in particular, were bitching about how tight-lipped the industry is. They don’t want to be a shop bitch…they’re too good for that. They just want people to hand over their hard earned knowledge to some stranger over the internet. They became scratchers because they love tattoos so much and no one they asked would give them an apprenticeship. Almost every post was a mockery of the English language. All I could think of was: Fuck. You. I had to wonder how these people expected anyone to take them seriously. Who would take time out of their day to look at a portfolio to someone that writes the way they do? I know I wouldn’t.
I could go on, but I’ve bored you enough.
I’ve got another cupcake design in the works. It’s pretty detailed, so it might be a bit before it’s done. More art, less rants, makes everyone happy.