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-   -   HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!) (http://www.allornothingtattoo.com/forums/showthread.php?t=5352)

conorblue 04-01-2010 10:16 AM

HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
PLEASE EVERYONE feel free to ADD to this!!! I reference people to it a few times a week and know others do too. It would be nice to have a thread to include things about apprenticing, how many doors you knocked on before you got a "yes", how much crap you put up with, etc, without any technical information.

Here is my post.


Getting an Apprenticeship:

First and foremost, you aren't going to be able to learn from someone that knows nothing. You are going to have to do your research on where a good place to potentially learn from is. I am not saying that you have to find the best artist, with the most awards or magazine coverage, (although that would be great) but definitely stay away from people that don't have a portfolio that reflects top notch skill. Think of this as the gateway, and foundation to all you will soon be able to learn. You do not want this time to be spent learning habits that you will spend the next years of your career trying to UNLEARN. This potential shop must contain a group of things that in conjunction will paint a picture for a great place to learn. The shop must be clean. Anyone that doesn't take pride in their shop, is going to take less pride in their work. The shop is the FIRST thing a potential client sees, and it is their first impression. Does someone greet you when you walk in? Are they friendly and knowledgeable? Ask to see portfolios. Are lines crisp, clean and uniform? Are the colors bright, smooth and solid? Do the tattoos look like works of art on skin, or do they look like stamps from the back of a biker mag? Ask about their autoclave, and sterilization procedures. If you are met with resistance here, immediately get out. A lot of times if an artist has resentment about sharing their knowledge of cross contamination and sterility, its because they have none. Spend some time talking with the artists, and if you find an artist whose work you admire, get a tattoo from them. That time you are paying for with the tattoo is also a time where you can talk to an artist about what they are doing, and how they got into the business. They too can give you some tips on how, and maybe even where to approach an apprenticeship and this information can be very valuable. It helps to find someone whose art and personality you connect with, and would be willing to steer you in the right direction artistically, and possibly for that apprenticeship.

Don't set your sights lower than the best, and be persistent. No usually means that you didn't try hard enough, so keep trying and make it impossible for someone to say no, after they saw your work. Tattoo artists get asked multiple times weekly for an apprenticeship. Persistence is the key here. Don't be an overbearing pain in the ass, but do approach it with respect and a WANT to learn attitude. Ask for tips or critiques on drawing and apply then to your work and return with them applied. Keep trying and stay positive. If its meant to be, than tattooing will sweep you up into it.


The biggest thing that a potential employer is going to look for, is that taking you on will be an asset, not a liability. I can't stress this enough…Draw, Draw, Draw and then draw. All things. Things that you could potentially see as a tattoo and things that just show your skill as an artist. You don't have to be the finest artist in the world, but you do have to show a wide array of drawings over a period of time that show technical improvement. Presentation is very big at this point. Have some pride in your artwork, but be willing to take the criticism of people that are better than you. Have your drawings in a portfolio on drawing paper. A notebook with lines and pen scribbles is NOT a portfolio. This is why you should start drawing right now, if you aren't already. If you arent tattooing already, you should stop reading here and start drawing. I am NOT kidding.

Keep in mind that tattoo artists take a lot of pride in the knowledge they have and potentially are willing to share. It takes a lot more behind the scenes work to become a tattoo artist and this all should be approached with a great deal of respect. You should approach this as someone that knows very little about tattooing, interested in learning all there is to know. It definitely closes all tattoo doors if you "already tattoo", "tattoo out of the house", or have pictures of "tattoos you have done". I would not be impressed with someone so arrogant to think they could start tattooing on their own and find their way. I would be impressed with someone that has enough patience and respect for tattooing to keep it sacred and to learn the RIGHT way.

You have to be personable. To me this is huge. Friendly, knowledgeable, patient, and although some might not agree, you have to look the part. I wouldn't trust a dentist with no teeth, so it might help to have at least one tattoo, a good tattoo at that. This takes research on your part as well, but if you did your research on WHERE to apprentice, than finding a top notch artist at that location wouldn't hurt your position either. Also what I mean by looking the part, is…you can't look like a lunatic, or be a drug addict to get a job in a respectable tattoo shop. Take as much pride in yourself as your artwork. I'm not saying to look like you came out of the pages of GQ, but I am talking about taking a bath. You would be surprised how many times this is overlooked.

Patience, and willingness to work your way from the bottom up. Expect having to take out the trash and mop the floors from open to close for months before you are told how to even clean equipment. This patience WILL help you in every aspect of tattooing, from dealing with clients, to fully understanding every aspect that goes into tattooing, not just the art itself.

Working in that apprenticeship: Working in an apprenticeship is almost a sacred time. Its when you are allowed to "screw up". Ask questions, make notes, read books, draw, observe other artists, and try and absorb as much as you can. Its not as easy to take it all in, in between multiple clients, and or, trying to promote your own self. This time is a selfless time where you really need to observe as much as you can. Sometimes it can seem thankless, and hard work. But remember, you are getting an opportunity to be a part of one of the greatest and most sacred professions in the world. Make sure you listen to your mentor, they have years of experience, and things that you don't understand will be nothing more than second nature to them. Watch every single aspect of their behavior from dealing with clients, to setting the mood for a tattoo. Watch how and what they set up and what they do to prepare for the tattoo. Watch every motion the machine makes, what tubes and needles were selected, from how the tattoo leave the shop, and how everything is torn down, cleaned and sterilized. Draw, Draw, Draw you are in one of the most inspirational environments. Never stop drawing, Clean the floor, draw, scrub the tubes, draw, draw, draw, answer the phone and then draw. It never ceases to help your ability. Do line drawings, trace, copy, steady your hand, and Draw. From here you really need to pay attention to your mentor about the critiques they have regarding your personal tattooing. Apply it and work harder than ever before.

GOOD LUCK!
And hopefully this is a good reference for all people that have that question.

wireddreamer 04-01-2010 11:37 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Conor - what a great read!

Thanks for putting this information together and sharing it freely. I'm just at the very early beginnings of pursuing an apprenticeship locally. I've looked at several shops in the area. I've introduced myself, met the artists and reviewed portfolios. I've found one that I'm asking (pending response because its a huge responsibility and I'm sure there are many things involved from a shop and legal/liability perspective that needs to be thought out as well) and really respect his work. We are very much alike artistically and I've gotten several tattoos from him already. There is synergy there, as you mentioned in your post. I'm really hoping it works out with this person and if not, I can respect that as well. I'll continue looking.

Sample of my artwork (pen). I love the fact too that you emphasize 'drawing' drawing drawing.

http://www.redbubble.com/people/rfgo...vomitted-angel

Thanks again man!

~WD

killroy666 04-01-2010 01:02 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
This is a great article. Draw draw draw. I didn't have the mentor but I did watch did extensive research & asked a lot of questions. There is no stupid questions. Anyyways great article.

texasink 04-01-2010 01:23 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
travel...dont work in a shop that you really dont like just b/c its near your home...i moved from texas to penn.. just b/c most texas tattoo shops have real attitudes that i dont preach to no one....

wireddreamer 04-01-2010 01:28 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by texasink (Post 57178)
travel...dont work in a shop that you really dont like just b/c its near your home...i moved from texas to penn.. just b/c most texas tattoo shops have real attitudes that i dont preach to no one....

Good point. Thanks for the info man.

Bufferkiller 04-01-2010 09:53 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
That article makes me want to get an apprenticeship. Then I remember that I'm not an artist. lol

conorblue 04-02-2010 07:12 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
I tell people all the time, there are two types of artists....those with a gift, and that that struggle and work every day to even be able to draw anything. im the latter.

wireddreamer 04-02-2010 09:20 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Conor, I agree. There certainly are 'natural' artists out there but I think everyone, if they take the time, study, learn, grow, and try, can get there as well. It will just take longer and come with more challenges maybe. My mindset is, if it's been done before, it's achievable and if it hasn't, set the pace and pioneer it. Never be afraid to experiment and push the edge/boundaries of what is called 'normal'.

Just look at our industry and the artists who are at the forefront of unique styles. There was no one really before them doing what they do at this present day, but they started somewhere, learned what they could from previous masters, and evolved.

Art is awesome...anyway ya paint, ink, or slice it.

conorblue 04-02-2010 02:09 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
definitely man! glad ya liked the read. good luck!

Joe 04-02-2010 04:32 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Great write on that Conor, clear, concise and on point. Any unanswered questions some may have can and should only be answered by your mentor once the position is landed.
I will use this as well as a handout, much easier than going through the same oral routine and occasionally forgetting to mention specifics when speaking with a prospecting apprentice.
Thanks for sharing this with us Conor.

Los 04-03-2010 04:17 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
great thread. my two cents, after spending years, many miles getting an apprenticeship...

-tattooing or anything, its about relationship building...find the best artist that feels comfortable with u, and vice versa. Interpersonal skills will make ur business better.
-pitch a schedule to the mentor. I don't think anyone can work for free for a year anymore. Be like "ill come in Thursday Fri Sat Sund, i have a job the other days, and i will watch listen, wait, and elarn"
- don't give up, and don't do more than u can shew.

SJRabbit 04-05-2010 06:09 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Good Read, Even thou my eyes are now Burning

Frek 04-10-2010 10:34 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
I've been looking for an apprenticeship for about a year now, I was going to go to my local shop in town but there attitude sucks, as if there the only tattoo artists around, so I absolutely agree with the persistent comment. And my journey is all done by foot since my drivers license is screwed, I think I might grab a skateboard to get around a little easier, I will land a apprenticeship tho, I guess Im considered the gifted type, drawing and creating drawings have always come easy to me, I have drawings on Facebook if any one is interested, under Seth Smith Artworx album, maybe some of you guys can leave me some advance, and critique my work...Great write up dude!!!

p.s. my profile pic is the Friday the 13th mask on Facebook by the way...

conorblue 04-11-2010 02:21 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Frek (Post 57490)
I've been looking for an apprenticeship for about a year now, I was going to go to my local shop in town but there attitude sucks, as if there the only tattoo artists around, so I absolutely agree with the persistent comment. And my journey is all done by foot since my drivers license is screwed, I think I might grab a skateboard to get around a little easier, I will land a apprenticeship tho, I guess Im considered the gifted type, drawing and creating drawings have always come easy to me, I have drawings on Facebook if any one is interested, under Seth Smith Artworx album, maybe some of you guys can leave me some advance, and critique my work...Great write up dude!!!

p.s. my profile pic is Frankenstein on Facebook by the way...

i looked for an apprenticeship for 3 years, with no drivers license and ended up biking 12 miles to my apprenticeship a day, then to another job, then 12 miles home. putting in work aint a joke. plus, i couldnt draw for s&!t then, so i really had to put in the work. keep trying, or not.

stutattoo 04-12-2010 05:56 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
1. draw 2. draw 3. draw. 4. put together some type of drawing portfolio that are tattoo inspired. 5. find a good clean shop that does good tattoos perferable people who dont have gigantic egos. 6. be persistant. 7. never give up(ninjas dont)

wireddreamer 04-12-2010 06:26 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Question: Along with drawings (detailed pencil, sketches, etc), should you also include line drawings of some work?

stutattoo 04-12-2010 06:48 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
absolutely. you want to show you have some kind of general knowledge of how a tattoo design starts( just my opinion) after your happy with a dope drawing and feel its done throw a piece of tracing paper on it and trace a line drawing( a good one. good solid lines may take a couple trys its hard to go from sketching to laying a single pass line)then make a copy. you dont want to show people work on tracing paper and try to claim it as your own they will assume you just straight jacked someone elses work. also a good way to practice your line work. pulling long lines is a challenge even to season pros.

stutattoo 04-12-2010 06:51 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
not just drawings examples of lettering graffitti cursive what ever your into wouldnt be a bad idea as well. kinda how i landed my apprenticeship many moons ago.

wireddreamer 04-12-2010 07:00 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Awesome guys! Thanks for the tips. GREATLY appreciated.

conorblue 05-01-2010 08:18 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
this seriously needs to be sticky.... bump

Demonkilla66 05-02-2010 12:24 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by conorblue (Post 57204)
I tell people all the time, there are two types of artists....those with a gift, and that that struggle and work every day to even be able to draw anything. im the latter.

Me too, we'll presevere though, and kick our way through that s&!t.

Bufferkiller 05-02-2010 02:13 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
I thought this had been made a sticky.

Nicole 05-21-2010 09:35 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
I thought so.. but this is a great thread to bring back to the top.

SJRabbit 07-01-2010 03:24 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Back to the top agian

Wojo 07-03-2010 08:46 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Everyone needs to live off of Ramen soup at least once in there lives. Also the heal/toe mode of transportation is a real character builder. I just decided I was gonna hang around a shop til they got a restraining order or started showing me stuff. Never quit on your dreams.

Frek 07-04-2010 05:59 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Tattoo or Die trying...........yeah that sounds like the title for my new album..........

conorblue 07-05-2010 03:32 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
someone ought to sticky this...

Bufferkiller 07-05-2010 06:25 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
I thought this was going to get stickied months ago.

SJRabbit 07-06-2010 12:46 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Sticky it

chris_nettle_tattoo 07-16-2010 07:34 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wojo (Post 61673)
Everyone needs to live off of Ramen soup at least once in there lives. Also the heal/toe mode of transportation is a real character builder. I just decided I was gonna hang around a shop til they got a restraining order or started showing me stuff. Never quit on your dreams.

When you know what it is like to know that the $0.47 in your pocket is all you have for God know how long... It makes you appreciate where you are now in life.

On a side note... if you ever get a chance to visit Japan, Ramen is an art form, not the poor mans last deperate hope of a meal haha.

Triscal_Goddess 07-19-2010 10:35 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Awesome post, I agree with so many of the above said points. In particular I second the suggestion of being willing to travel for your apprenticeship in an effort to find a good mentor and environment.

It might not even hurt to try to take notice of how other apprentices turned out after tutelage from any given mentor and speak with them if possible. I completely lucked out in regard to my apprenticeships (I went through two.... and to be honest I wouldn't be opposed to a third.....) having been exposed to both good habbits and decent enough work to lay a foundation for me to build upon, without really knowing what I should have been looking for in an apprenticeship at all. I can see this now clearly in only 1 year of working full time on clients and getting a fair idea of how other artists in my area work, and teach, erroneously.

I work in an area so saturated with artists who, in my humble and inexperienced opinion should NOT be considerred professional in any regard, its quite disturbing.... But what is even more disturbing then the fact that they are 10 years into some of their careers still doing things dangerously wrong by anyones standards, is the fact that they have apprentices!!

The long and the short of the point I am aiming to make is, don't settle for any artist who is simply willing to teach but one who also knows how to teach or has taught successfully. Its far too easy to go about learning this art with the best of intentions and be led horribly astray.

cometcowgirl 10-15-2010 11:01 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
I started my first apprenticeship in Hawaii in 2005, and like many of the shops I worked at there was issue between the owner(not an artist) and the artists. Mistake or not I followed the artist I was apprenticing for. 5 years and an additional "apprenticeship" later I still feel like I'm struggling to get/keep a foothold on being in a shop. I've worked in 5 shops including that first one, and I've learned a ton about business but far less about tattoing. Honestly I've been fired from two shops (not for being unsanitary mind you) which was a devastating setback, yet I'm ready to start up again. So to anyone who gets discouraged, don't, the only person who's going to keep you from your dream of being a success is you. I have to tell myself this all the time.

Oh and keep this post going people!

BRANDON BOND 10-27-2010 11:09 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Just stickied it late but sticky nonetheless hahahaa

conorblue 12-08-2010 05:44 AM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BRANDON BOND (Post 65397)
Just stickied it late but sticky nonetheless hahahaa

now if we all could have apprenticed at your shop...

FotogInk 03-09-2011 06:54 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Great thread. I'm in a weird place myself as far as learning and apprenticing. I've had 3 so far, and the last was definately the best. Over all, I've had 3 years of 3 different shops and each had good and bad points. I've been in shops where no one can draw, and one where EVERYONE was amazing. I've learned every nuance I could from anyone willing to listen. I've been unemployed on and off (currently no "real" job) and everyday is spent learning, drawing or inking.
I have several things anyone wishing to learn should look into BEFORE they start hitting up shops. I found drawing a REAL boon. I have a long history myself, in everything from painting, to photography. You have to learn how to DRAW , but tracing can be helpful too. Don't freak out if you can't pull skulls out of your head. Spend some time TRACING comic books, books of flash and within months you will be amazed. I actually began to figure out "patterns" to roses this way.
There are lots of books and video's/dvd/s on what or how to begin. I suggest doing your homework. I never knew of The Whole Enchilada till this forum. And I'm not exactly green to the net. The dvd is amazing, but like pointed out before - only reinforces things you learn after you have been around a year or two ( around shops or tattoo pro's that is) . Go to Amazon and find the Huck Spaulding book, find some HISTORY of books. I've heard many kids under 25 say how they just want to tattoo, and don't know anything about hep c or clean routines. The VERY FIRST THING I DID was take a bloodpath course, and get a hardcopy of the local rules and regulations of tattooing in this state ( CA) from the local health board.
I researched machines and power supplies, first being lent my first set up from my first mentor. Since then, it's been a LONG haul to save up, sell and find deals to get the quality tools you need...and there are a LOT. I finally have most everything a pro shop has ( save autoclave and thermofax, and a proper chair) instead focusing on medical supplies , inks, and the like.
My point is, there is literally 3 years worth to learn BEFORE YOU EVER EVEN THINK ABOUT ASKING To Apprentice. I'm still looking for a proper shop to take me on, as I know it won't be much longer before things happen. I gave myself a 10 year window and I'm on year 3. I've been tattooed by several years worth of pro's - asking and learning while getting ink. I bought gifts ( like pencils and paper) or pizza's when I was in my 20's , and now that I'm in my 40's - I have a wealth of knowledge to refer back on. And I'm STILL LEARNING ! Books , late nights, early mornings, and severe carpal tunnel - i look forward to every second. Theres not a second, minute or day I don't think about tattooing or drawing ....and if you are the same, then you know.
It's not easy, nothing is - but I'll die doing this.
I'd love to get more involved in local shops here in San Diego, but I here a lot of tough going's on from others as far as job availibility. As someone who moved from Detroit to CA simply because I've lost so much ( job, house, belongings) - I know how tough it can be. But I'm sure something will happen.....it always does !
So owners serious about "the future" , it's right here in this thread.

Smok3o3 04-11-2011 06:46 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Im a beginner tattoo artist. Thanks for the words of advice for beginners it does help, Eventually I know i will get an apprenticeship but I do want to wait a little bit to know and sure of myself I can put all that time into it. Thanks again!

Bufferkiller 04-21-2011 09:57 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
This needs to be bumped back to the top of the recent threads.

boomstick 04-21-2011 10:29 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
I have a question about apprenticeships and forgive me if it is ignorance on my part, but do a lot of artists charge for people to apprentice under them? I researched apprenticing at some local shops and one guy wants $5000 on top of equipment (others never bothered to give me any information). Is that cheap, common, expensive? I really don't know.

I'm a poor art student, so everything is expensive to me now.

Frek 04-23-2011 02:52 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
Yes most studios do charge and for $5k, that studio better be one of the best(tattoo quality wise) in the US, there are studios that do not charge, but in return you better be loyal and become a piece of furniture in that studio if you know what I mean, so that they know your serious, (some studios charge to see if you are serious as well), I think its utter BS to charge for an apprenticeship, because whether you pay or not, the outcome of the apprenticeship is up to you at the end of the day, you get out what you put in, best wishes in your travels bro....

boomstick 04-23-2011 03:37 PM

Re: HOW TO GET AN APPRENTICESHIP... (PLEASE STICKY THIS!)
 
He's good, but definitely not one of the best. Doesn't treat his employees all that well either. I'm glad I was hesitant with him now.

It is something that will have to wait for a couple of years until I can move, but it is definitely something I really want to do and be good at.


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