Right now you would probably be happy to get ANY apprenticeship offers, but using my methods will give you the maximum chance of getting one. However, not all apprenticeships are created equal. Here are a few things to bear in mind when deciding what to do.
Traditionally apprenticeships were free. The apprentice got taught tattoo knowledge with the understanding that eventually they would work in the shop and give the mentor a cut of their takings. The mentor got free labour around the shop whilst they were sharing this knowledge to get the trainee up to speed.
Things are changing though. Some tattooists are asking their trainees to pay them for teaching them to tattoo. This is understandable. In the past it was expected that an apprentice would stay with the shop for a good few years after they started so it was a good investment for the mentor. I see now more and more people being apprenticed and then leaving after a year to move to another shop or set up as competition. The original mentor gives all the knowledge and gains nothing. People feel used and ripped off. For this reason there are less and less apprentices being taken on.
Now, paying to learn how to tattoo COULD be OK. Nick Baxter, who is an awesome tattooist allegedly went this route and it worked for him. HOWEVER, paying for an apprenticeship is a system that is really open to abuse.
Some shops take on a succession of “apprentices”. They take their money, treat them like slaves and then get rid of them after a year or so for some minor made up thing. They generally don’t even teach them to tattoo…
Be very aware of this scam if you consider paying for an apprenticeship. You have to be sure they will actually teach you what you want to learn. Did they have any previous apprentices? Did they leave? If so, why? You may have to ask around to find out this knowledge. Look out for the tattooist saying things like “Yeah, we had an apprentice but he was an asshole so we had to let him go. We need to find someone who can do the job and your work looks amazing”. This should ring alarm bells. Don’t let your ego being stroked draw you into being ripped off. Just do your homework and figure out the situation.
IS THE TATTOOIST ANY GOOD?
You should have weeded out the bad tattooists from your original shortlist. It’s worth saying again though that you need to look at the work of the person who will be training you. Is it any good? If they tattoo badly that’s what they are going to teach you to do. Maybe they were taught wrong. Maybe they have bad techniques. Its hard to improve if you start off the wrong way.
WILL YOU BE ABLE TO GET ON WITH THEM?
The relationship between mentor and apprentice is a close one. Will you be able to give your all to this person and spend a lot of time with them without killing them?
Making the right choice of who to have as a mentor can make all the difference to your potential tattoo career. CHOOSE WISELY