Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…

Good News for Scratchers.

May 5th, 2009 by

I know we give scratchers a hard time here on Tattoo Blog. Considering what I have observed in their attitudes from time to time, most of it is deserved. However, in the hopes that, for once, some constructive advice can be offered, I’m going to give it a shot.

If you really love the art of tattooing and want to be a tattoo artist instead of just another asshole out for themselves only, then here are some things you should do to gain that ever-elusive apprenticeship. Now, I’m not the only one to ever suggest these simple rules, and quite a lot of the inspiration for this post comes from the good people at forums. They know who they are, so a big shout out to that crazy bunch.

First and foremost, build a decent portfolio of your drawings. No! Not any of the tattoos you have done, show that you can actually draw. Be honest about this. If you cannot draw, and draw well, take some classes and learn how. Lying to yourself, or listening to the well-meaning lies of friends won’t help you here.

Just as importantly, STOP SCRATCHING! Although there may be some kindhearted soul out there, somewhere, I cannot think of a single tattoo artist who is willing to teach a scratcher. Buck up, and put that shit behind you, now! Sell that crappy equipment you bought off of E-Bay, and save the money as a step towards your apprenticeship.

Secondly, do not…. I repeat, do not just walk in cold off of the street and immediately hit the artist with, “I wanna be a tattoo artist. Ya got any openings?”, or some such shit. This is a near death sentence unless you happen to be the second coming of Michelangelo. Let’s face it, few, if any of us are. The artist has a half a million things on his mind. Things that are important to the operation of their shop. They don’t have time for trivial shit like what you want. Unless you happen to be there to get a tattoo, that is. They don’t know you from Adam, and to tell the truth couldn’t care less.

Sound harsh? Consider all the things a tattoo artist has to constantly worry about. Did the autoclave pass its spore test? When will the health inspector show up? Will he be in a pissy mood? Did that last kid hit me with a fake ID? How much am I going to have to pay in taxes this year? Will I have to move my shop because of a new zoning law? When is my next paying client coming through the door? Do I have to order more supplies soon? Should I replace the contact points on the liner? These and much more have to be considered when you own your business, and that’s on top of the normal day to day things that go into doing a good tattoo.

The best way to approach a potential mentor is to make friends with them first. Come in to get some work done. Talk about tattoo history. Talk about art. If you have a sense of humor try and give them a laugh, you’d be surprised at how much a good laugh can ease the tension of the day. Besides, as a side benefit, it’s much better being mentored by a friend than by someone who has a personality clash with you.

Once you have developed a relationship with your potential mentor, then you can casually bring up the subject of wanting to tattoo. Be prepared to show them your portfolio after they ask to see it. Be prepared to take some constructive criticism. No one is perfect, and acting all insulted from a few well meaning suggestions is only going to show the artist that you would be a pain in the ass to teach.

So, why did I call this thread good news for scratchers? Simple. If you can put that big assed ego behind you, actually be able to draw, and be willing to work at getting that apprenticeship instead of cutting corners, it is. You will be well on your way to becoming a tattoo artist.

Good luck to you, and give it a try.

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