Tattoo Blog

Art that adorns the flesh…


November 29th, 2008 by

In the last two weeks I’ve talked to three different men who were seeking apprenticeships, only problem is they were also scratchers.  The short definition of ‘scratcher’ is an unlicensed, untrained layman performing an amatuer tattoo on people out of their home, a hotel room, or at parties.  The other short definition of scratcher is fuckin’ idiot.

An analogy for those of you considering taking part in this fiasco:  Getting tattooed by someone who’s seen every episode of Miami Ink and purchased a ‘professional’ tattoo machine off of Ebay is like getting an abortion from a dude that loves E.R. and bought some surgical instruments off of the same.  Hell, the guy maybe even read a book or two about the subject!

One of the guys is the brother of a client of mine who started ‘tattooing’ in prison and was recently released.  He had his sister call me to ask what kind of ‘ink’ I use. *ahem* I informed her that even if I told him what I used there would be no legitimate way he could get his hands on the stuff because the supply companies I order from require you to show proof of not only a tattoo artist’s license, but a business license as well.  I make it a point to support companies that enforce this precaution and I avoid those who don’t.  If you think you’re getting a good deal because you got your shit out of the back of some tattoo magazine, you’re wrong.

Dipshit #2, after informing him of the danger he was putting people in and the fact that all the practice in the world won’t make you a good artist without informed criticism, promptly informed ME that he was going to ‘learn how to do this whether anyone helped him or not’.  Did I mention this guy was a dipshit?  I wished him good luck and told him that not only would he never get a decent apprenticeship by running around showing off his scratcher portfolio, but that anyone who would apprentice him was probably going to take his money, humiliate him, and leave his head so full of shit that he’d never be able to do an even mediocre tattoo.  Once again, good luck buddy.

Dill hole #3:  This guy comes in with about 50 self-rendered tattoos on his hands and arms, I cringe at first sight of him and ask ‘how may I help you’ while trying to swallow that little bit of vomit that just crawled up my gullet.  He whips out his photo album and announces his intention to get an apprenticeship.  I look at his ‘work’, swallow hard again, and tell him that if he wanted an apprenticeship the first thing he would have to do is never show his work to anyone, ever.  But this guy actually seems to be paying attention and I understand what it’s like to want something so bad but not know how to get it, so I have a little pity on the guy and come up with a reasonable scenario that could work for everyone.  ‘Before even being considered to become an apprentice you have to give up scratching, and all of your gear.’  I tell him, and for the first time in a long time I think someone actually listened to me.  I’ll keep you posted to see if Dillhole keeps his word and coughs up the goods but I doubt it.

Scratching is a slap in the face of any tattooer that has busted ass to get where they are.  Scratchers and their by-products are one of the main causes of tattoo misinformation and they are the single largest cause of people who are afraid to get tattooed because they don’t want their tattoo to ‘look like that’.  If you go to a scratcher to get a tattoo you will get what you deserve, a shit tattoo, and maybe a little more that you don’t deserve, a little helping of death.  Tattoos are permanent and so is Hepatitis C and AIDS, so good luck rolling the dice with you’re health, stupid.  Scratchers don’t give a fuck about tattoo and they don’t give a fuck about you either, matter of fact, they only appear to care about themselves, but not enough to take better care of themselves considering the high prevalence of drug abuse in relation to the scratcher demographic.

Anyone who really wants an apprenticeship should avoid any connection with scratching, either getting one or doing one.  Then pick up a sketch pad and start drawing, alot, right now.  Find the best tattoo shop in town (do the research, it’s worth it) and get some tattoos, hang out, get to know the people working there and maybe a little about how this business works.  Attend some conventions, check out the magazines and maybe learn some about the history of this unique art form.  In short, if you want an apprenticeship, be ready to work for it.  I hope this finds you all in good health.


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