Bubbleberry

The end of an apprentice - sacking your mentor.

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So as many of you know my wife was studying under a local tattoo artist. Actually, to be exact, she was travelling 100 miles round trip to tattoo people unsupervised, but I will get to that...

A family friend has been tattooing for 20 years. Nice guy, easy to get along with, lots of awards, very busy studio,booked out a couple of months in advance. He seemed like the perfect person for her to learn with. She approached him and stated that she simply wanted to do the donkey work, cleaning toilets, making coffee, going to the store etc, that she was in no rush and for now simply wanted to spend as much time as possible getting to know the ins and outs of a tattoo shop.

After seeing some of her art, he tells her that its pointless wasting here time cleaning, and that as soon as she has people to tattoo, he will teach her - stating that practice skins and pig skins are completely different from human skin and that the only way to learn is to start.

At this point both myself and more importantly my wife are concerned, but we guess he knows what he is doing, we trust his experience and I suppose, speaking for myself, I allowed my love for my wife to influence my instinct... I wanted to believe she had some type of superhuman artistic tattoo ability and that she was going to be a natural. I wanted to encourage her.

She spends a day watching him, and she is let loose on me, doing two tattoos on my leg. Both of which were "ok" but he spends no time watching or guiding her, stating that she will learn as she goes.

So then he tells her that she should bring any customers she can find and he will offer her a split of the cash.Which again seems strange, but we guess he knows best.

We bring along two friends, and the first tattoo is great. But the second one is not so good, she makes a simple mistake at the start, which she points out to him. He tells her "that she knows what she is doing and to fix it". She tries, it gets worse, he tries to fix it, it gets no better, he tells her to bandage the tattoo and charges the guy half price.

When the customer leaves he states "what does he want for £40.00" Then he says that he sends clients out all the time with bad tattoos, but he does not have the time to fix all his mistakes.

He then tells her that it was time she bought her own tattoo equipment and that she needed to tattoo faster because it was a business.

Needless to say my wife spent the journey home and the rest of the day in tears because she messed up the guys tattoo, but also because she realised that she could not stay there and would have to give up her "apprenticeship". She called the guy the next day and said she would not be coming back, and he genuinely seemed shocked?

She said she would clean toilets for a lifetime before picking up a tattoo machine, rather than mess up someone skin, but I know she is hurt and deflated.

I think she did the right thing. Did she?

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Bubbleberry, if I remember correctly a few weeks ago you posted that your wife had done her first tattoo. Now your saying she has been traveling to tattoo people, and her mentor is offering a split with her. Now I'm no tattooer but all of this seems very fishy.

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Bubbleberry, if I remember correctly a few weeks ago you posted that your wife had done her first tattoo. Now your saying she has been traveling to tattoo people, and her mentor is offering a split with her. Now I'm no tattooer but all of this seems very fishy.

Of course it seems fishy - if there was not something wrong she would be there and there would be no problem. I guess we knew from the start there was a problem, but thought that it may be ok, or he would not be telling her to tattoo people, right?

Wrong !

Brian, I would be interested in what your thoughts are? I spoke to another artist today, in another well known studio, who stated that it was not how they apprentice people, but, like you indicated, she would have to tough up, get used to making mistakes, and learn how to fix them.

I think if it had been fixed she would have been OK with it. As Kore Flatmo said in his interview - " I can beat my niece in arm wrestling - it does not mean I am strong - you have to compare yourself with the best, not the worst."

So what would those who consider themselves good tattooists have done ?

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I'm sorry that it didn't work out for her, I know that you were both very excited. Your wife, obviously, made the right decision, that "mentor" sounds like an ass. Sorry, dude. At least you have one good souvenir piece from her, and no matter how bad the piece is on your friend, I'm sure it can be covered eventually. They knew it was her first week tattooing, right? Surely they had an idea that there was a little risk involved.

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i guess i agree with the other tattooer you talked to. your wife is going to have to toughen up if she wants to tattoo. if you cry after fucking something up, you probably need to find a new profession. when i finish a tattoo, all i see are the mistakes i made. i don't cry about it, i try to do better the next time. the very nature of tattoo is that there are going to be flaws. what happens when you're trying to pull a nice clean long line on somebody's ribs who's squirming around and making it impossible. just do the best you can. oh, and i've only been tattooing for about 8 years, but i've never seen an apprenticeship go how it ideally should.

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I'm sorry that it didn't work out for her, I know that you were both very excited. Your wife, obviously, made the right decision, that "mentor" sounds like an ass. Sorry, dude. At least you have one good souvenir piece from her, and no matter how bad the piece is on your friend, I'm sure it can be covered eventually. They knew it was her first week tattooing, right? Surely they had an idea that there was a little risk involved.

That's the crazy thing. The first guy who got a tattoo loved it, I actually met him today and he wants another. The second one, well he just turned 18, his parents paid for it, and he loves it, I think because he feels so much more grown up and cool -as I did when I got my first. They both knew that she was learning, and they both were happy to take the risk.

Being honest, had I not have joined this forum, I would probably have shrugged it off and told her to keep going, I have seen worse tattoos, I have worse tattoos, but my wife knew it was bad, and she knew it could be fixed. It just seemed right to make sure it was as good as was possible given the situation.

But again being honest, she was learning nothing about safety and hygiene, and she wants to start at the beginning, and take it one step at a time. I do not want to say to much, he was a good guy, he tried to help her in his own way, she just feels another approach is best.

I do have to add that I showed one of the tattoos she did on me to a guy who runs another shop, and he thinks she could be an amazing artist, but that it would be a long time before he would let her near a machine - he wants to meet her so the balls in her court !

I should add that she cried after being told, in no uncertain terms, how much of a fu#c up she made, even though he offered no guidance or help while she was doing the actual tattoo..., so perhaps he could have showed her and not told her - after the fact?

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Brian, we've all been telling you for weeks that this guy who was teaching her sounded like a fucking moron, well you just once again proved us right. He sounds like someone you and anyone else who wants a decent tattoo should stay far far away from him.

As far as him taking a cut of the apprentices money, that is very common. Some teachers do it, some teachers don't let apprentices charge for their first tattoos and some let them keep any money but don't let them charge a lot. The other are right about her needing to toughen up too. You will fuck up a lot of people before you start doing tattoos you think are o.k.

The fact that he look one look at her art and said "o.k. don't waste your time learning just go ahead and do it" should have tipped you off from the start.

It's too bad that her dream didn't come through but that's life. Maybe if she keeps drawing and getting tattooed regularly by good tattooers she'll have another chance. If not, there's lots of other art related jobs out there. If she does get offered another apprenticeship, just make sure to really check it out this time I guess.

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Hi Ursula. I think the whole experience just shows me how varied an industry this is. The guy is successful with many happy, repeat customers. And as I said, he is a good guy - I believe. But you can only teach what you know, and even then knowledge does not give you the right to instruct. She left on good terms, and she refused to take any money - so she can hold her head high and chalk it down to experience.

And she hopes to get tattooed by an artist she admires - which is a step in the right direction!

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The guy is successful with many happy, repeat customers.

repeat customers doesn't make you a good tattoo artist. this is how scratchers survive, because they're usually cheap and their clients are ignorant (or delusional) as to what makes a tattoo good.

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I think enrolling her in tattoo school is the obvious solution!

Thanks Perez, great idea. As you are a TLC alumni do you think you could organise a discount for her?

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perfect example of why i visit this forum less and less...

Yeah, we are starting to get some members that are changing this forum from what it was,. But the good news is that it has just started and we can get it back in shape.

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This is where we have a great opportunity to not go the way other forums either started or went.....we hope LSTers will chose the respectful, educational, and positive path or just ignore the post/thread. Tough gals/guys, grandiosity, and attitudes need not apply to LST.....

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We really should have tattooers passwords and private discussions as well as the mixed forum. There's a lot of "knowledge" sharing on here from non- tattooers and it's adding to the problems our industry faces already. Advice from somebody that isn't a tattooer is obsolete. That all said, you found out first hand that tattooing isn't always what it seems. I'm curious if you could post a link to this "good guy" but then again I'm sure that would just add fuel to the flame which is what this forum is trying to avoid. Honestly I think you lied to yourself. All these things this dude said were making you question but you ignored it every time.

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Thanks Perez, great idea. As you are a TLC alumni do you think you could organise a discount for her?

Good one!

Anyways, My honest question for you is this; Why isn't your wife posting on this forum? It seems to me if she really wants to be "in the business" it would be far more beneficial for HER to be on here asking questions and rubbing E-elbows with real, and many quite accomplished, tattooers. This would be a far better resource for her to be taking advantage of directly, why the middlemanning?

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Advice from somebody that isn't a tattooer is obsolete.

I agree with the rest of your post, but this statement is simply not true. Advise from the general public who knows nothing of tattoos - I agree, it's not helpful and usually incorrect. Advise from people who've been around for years but aren't tattooers who know what's up - usually on the right track and helpful.

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Anyways, My honest question for you is this; Why isn't your wife posting on this forum? It seems to me if she really wants to be "in the business" it would be far more beneficial for HER to be on here asking questions and rubbing E-elbows with real, and many quite accomplished, tattooers

I've wondered about that as well.

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I thought about putting up the "good" artists website address, but no doubt someone would come along and start laying into his work, which would be unfair, given that he may not be a member of the forum. It may ruin any chances of my wife getting a position, and it would cause unnecessary ill feelings.

As for my wife joining the forum, it has been suggested, but perhaps she has more sense than me, she feels that forums are a waste of time, for various reasons. She spends her spare time drawing (among other things) and is not particularly interested in the opinions of people she does not know and will never meet, no matter how inflated their own sense of importance is.

Its not so much as I am in the middle feeding her info, she could really care less what people think, she knows she is a good artist, who wants to be better, she knows she could be a great tattooist, given time and guidance. She would rather go to one person who offers that guidance, than wade through a thousand opinions in the hope of finding a gem.

Sorry if my post annoyed Mario and his mates, such is life.

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Oh ok so she already knows she's a good artist. Well that's good, that's half the battle right there, right? Yeah, I mean why would she want the opinion of people who have been doing what she wants to do for years? Seeing as how she doesn't know anyone on here and never will. I mean it's certainly not like anyone on here knows each other in real life, especially not the tattooers! Makes sense, thanks for clearing that up!

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We really should have tattooers passwords and private discussions as well as the mixed forum. There's a lot of "knowledge" sharing on here..

I actually agree with that, those artists who dislike the "normal" folk hanging around could hang out there, which would hopefully help them to ignore posts they do not want to read.

But some people will always be unhappy, and while knowledge was power in the dark ages, the answer to most questions can be found somewhere on the internet, even if it is just a distributors website or a scratchers forum.

If I wanted to know how to tattoo (as a scratcher) I would not be hanging out here, and could find many sources of information, but I come here to discuss tattooing in general, to learn, to grow, because I have a interest.

If that makes people unhappy or angry, perhaps the should not hang out in "discussion"forums ?

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