Great Lakes Tattooing

Do we really need apprentices?

Recommended Posts

With the tattoo world saturated with tattooers, do we really need to bring anyone else into the fold? Is every shop incomplete without a "yoshi" of their own? Are most tattooers too lazy or busy to help with general stuff around the shop or is bringing new blood into tattooing necessary? How good do you have to be qualified enough to teach this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I probably can't answer most of those questions, for my own sake I'm gonna go ahead and say "yes" :P

"Saturated" is something of a subjective term. It's going to depend a lot on physical location, for one thing. There's also the fact that a lot of tattooers =/= a lot of good tattooers. There'll always be those trashy shops in every town where anyone with a lick of sense wont set foot. Actual quality tattooing, in my opinion, is still way below a point that could be called saturation. If those who are putting out quality work can take on an apprentice and increase the number of professionals with knowledge and integrity, I can only see that being a good thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If your passionate enough about tattooing your going to find yourself around good tattooers. Being around good tattooers and learning everything you can from them,while say getting tattooed, or just hanging around the shop your going to find yourself in an opportunity where a good Tattooer likes you and is willing to help you. I'm not a Tattooer but everything I know about tattooing I know from getting tattoos. So if your an artist and you come across a genuine person who is trying to learn the right way, why not teach em a thing or two?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While most of us here are NOT tattooers, so we really don't have any say in this ... But, since you asked, here are my two cents:

There are so many shops around and so many not-so-great tattooers ... You'd think that if more of these people paid their dues in the first place, maybe quality control would win out ...

As with any popular movement, you're going to get a number of people who jump on board to make money quickly ... And in the long run, their work doesn't hold up. These are the people who cut in line, didn't pay their dues, and screw the casual clients who don't really know much about tattooing.

It's sort of like photography today. I trained as a photographer for 7 years, and still would hesitate to call myself a pro. I don't make money on it and its a hobby, but how many people do you know who bought a prosumer dSLR or heck, just started layering on the filters on Instagram, who call themselves photographer today? (I know WAY too many of these people.) the thing is, if you're confident (whether or not you're skilled) and know how to sell yourself, people will believe you -- and pay you for it.

I don't think the problem is apprentices. From what I know about apprenticing, the system (when done correctly) acts as a quality control mechanism. If the apprentice can't or won't put in the blood, sweat and tears, they should be told they need to cut their losses.

I don't want to say much more since I really only know what I've observed as a collector ... But I think that where you're coming from is understandable, but I wouldn't write off everyone who has the desire to become a tattooer because of others who are screwing it up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we do still need apprentices definitely. There may be a lot of tattooists out there right now, but I am noticing that a hell of a lot of my favourite artists are very young or at least new to tattooing. The guy working on me at the moment has only been tattooing for five years or so but I absolutely love his work. There are quality artists coming through all the time and without someone to offer them a "proper" way into the industry it would be our loss I think.

As for artists being too busy or lazy to do the general day to day work around the shop - if they are good enough, then the word "lazy" seems a little unfair to me. I imagine that tattooing is pretty exhausting, spending hours at a time bent over someone's arm/leg/back or whatever else and laying down high quality art into a canvas which moves has got to be tiring. If they can have an apprentice and are sufficiently skilled to make a good mentor then good for them!

As for being qualified to mentor apprentices...I have a piece that I am unhappy with that was done at a shop with 1 full time artist who had TWO apprentices - when he should probably have still been learning himself, so I definitely see an issue there. I think you need to be able to objectively assess both your own ability and your willingness and/or ability to teach others what you know. Given the humility of most tattooers I have had the pleasure of meeting or speaking with, I imagine that a lot of them are unwilling to believe they are good enough to do this!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Like every one said above: we need apprentices underneath the quality tattooers. Unfortunately, with that comes apprentices under not-so-quality tattooers.

However, the main reason apprentices must exist is because everybody dies... even tattooers.

End of thread. ^_^

If we are doing a pros v. cons here we could put a tally in the pro column for new tattooers advancing and evolving tattooing. Whether or not you see this as a good thing, it is necessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming from someone that would kill for an apprenticeship...it's been rough.

The excuses I get is that they're worried they won't *like* the person. (Which can be easily solved!)

I also apparently need to become 'buddies' with these people first... and even then they get a million idiots like me asking for an apprenticeship. Kinda tough finding artists that don't have their nose in the air.

My issue is if you seriously don't want me tattooing in my home then teach me!!!

But until then, I'll continue to practice on fake skin & grow my own way. Not many options...

One shop OWNER told me he's not able to teach another because he's only been tattooing for 4 years....yet you own a shop..... wow...

This industry feels like a cult sometimes...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

one thing that i tell the people who come into the studio and want an apprenticeship is, that just because you want to learn to tattoo, doesn't mean you get to. The other thing i tell them is that the only way to learn is to know some tattooers. I'll help friends of mine, but not some random person who has walked into the studio or sent an email.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
one thing that i tell the people who come into the studio and want an apprenticeship is, that just because you want to learn to tattoo, doesn't mean you get to. The other thing i tell them is that the only way to learn is to know some tattooers. I'll help friends of mine, but not some random person who has walked into the studio or sent an email.

So question is...why not take some random person??

What's the big deal with giving others some opportunity?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So question is...why not take some random person??

What's the big deal with giving others some opportunity?

Really? So you would happily give something that you've spent your whole life (or large part of) striving to perfect, your means of providing for your family and whatever else to any random person that asked for it? If yes, good luck to you. You know what my answer would be? Go fuck yourself. I don't tattoo, or have any desire to tattoo but if someone came up and asked for my life on a plate I'd be a lot less civilised and nice than most people, especially if that person was a complete stranger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My answer is yes we need apprentices...we just got a new apprentice at our shop...she got to know my boss before she got it...and she had already known tattooers...she moved from cali to texas just to learn how to tattoo...and thats what it takes, real commitment, not just bitchin about some shop down the street not taking you. to answer the question of teaching random strangers...its a NO...i dont know you, dont know what you really want with tattooing, probably just to mooch off of it like everyone else. those are my first thoughts for when strangers ask. if i get to know someone and know that they love it for the art...i would do it, but most people wanna be fukn cool, and wanna get rich. my apprenticeship took 4 years...no money, barely any tattoos done...most people dont wanna do that, they just wanna pick up a machine and start tattooing....bleh..my 2 cents as a tattoo artist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Really? So you would happily give something that you've spent your whole life (or large part of) striving to perfect, your means of providing for your family and whatever else to any random person that asked for it? If yes, good luck to you. You know what my answer would be? Go fuck yourself. I don't tattoo, or have any desire to tattoo but if someone came up and asked for my life on a plate I'd be a lot less civilised and nice than most people, especially if that person was a complete stranger.

And that's the pompous attitude I'll never understand. Who says that the people that walk in the door haven't been struggling? Why assume?

But it's ok to you that just because you happen to know an artist they'll give you a shot?

I guess we're different.

I believe in teaching others and educating people into doing the right thing.

It just gets under my skin when professionals complain about people starting off in their basements, when it's almost a one in a million shot you'll get someone to teach you.

Anyway... I guess I'm just frustrated. I have no time to socialize and hang out in shops like I did when I was 14.

The *way* they want people to do things is a little unrealistic for me BECAUSE of the fact I'm working my ass off to get to where I wanna be!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the thing is that we protect what we love...can't just trust anybody with this knowledge because our names are attached to the apprentice. if they fuk up, its our fault...

as far as ppl tattooing in their houses, i could care less, everybodys trying out there...ive seen plenty of beginner work that has promise...but normally its not a good idea to go to a shop with pics of tattoos u did...better to bring artwork.

and tattooers actually hate hangarounds...just get tattooed, chill, be cool, but dont bug and be comin around everyday..lol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And that's the pompous attitude I'll never understand. Who says that the people that walk in the door haven't been struggling? Why assume?

But it's ok to you that just because you happen to know an artist they'll give you a shot?

I guess we're different.

I believe in teaching others and educating people into doing the right thing.

It just gets under my skin when professionals complain about people starting off in their basements, when it's almost a one in a million shot you'll get someone to teach you.

Anyway... I guess I'm just frustrated. I have no time to socialize and hang out in shops like I did when I was 14.

The *way* they want people to do things is a little unrealistic for me BECAUSE of the fact I'm working my ass off to get to where I wanna be!

You can do whatever you want on your own...but there is nothing that says someone needs to help you via an apprenticeship. If you really care about tattooing, and want to see it become better, then you need to put aside your own desire to tattoo and do things the right way. Caring about tattooing as a "would be" tattooer, means you do anything to uphold the craft of tattooing. Sometimes that means putting aside your immediate wants and thinking about what is best for tattooing as a whole.

Also, just becasue someone "doesn't have time" or "doesn't know any tattooers" or are "struggling" doesn't mean that they need to be taught to tattoo. There is no point system here. Being a certain kind of person in a certain situation doesn't get you special treatment.

And before you say, "I work my ass off to get where I want to be"... So does EVERYONE who really wants to learn to tattoo and do it the right way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So question is...why not take some random person??

What's the big deal with giving others some opportunity?

Because they don't know you. That's why.

I only just started my path to tattooing. I'm 30 years old. I've been getting tattooed for about 14 years now. I get tattooed often. I have developed friendships. And I'm so fortunate that my mentors see something in me. Not sure what it is yet, b/c even though this door has opened, I have to work very hard every step of the way.

Just keep getting tattooed. Keep working on the fundamentals of drawing. Keep discovering the artwork in this industry that gets you so stoked that you can't imagine doing anything else for the rest of your life. And hopefully something will open up down the road for you. You've got to put a lot in before you get back.

Good luck. And read what @Deb Yarian wrote. It's perfect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You can do whatever you want on your own...but there is nothing that says someone needs to help you via an apprenticeship. If you really care about tattooing, and want to see it become better, then you need to put aside your own desire to tattoo and do things the right way. Caring about tattooing as a "would be" tattooer, means you do anything to uphold the craft of tattooing. Sometimes that means putting aside your immediate wants and thinking about what is best for tattooing as a whole.

Also, just becasue someone "doesn't have time" or "doesn't know any tattooers" or are "struggling" doesn't mean that they need to be taught to tattoo. There is no point system here. Being a certain kind of person in a certain situation doesn't get you special treatment.

And before you say, "I work my ass off to get where I want to be"... So does EVERYONE who really wants to learn to tattoo and do it the right way.

Absolutely! I totally agree. I guess I also don't understand what it's like having a bunch of kids bugging you about becoming an artist.

It's great that lots of people become established without someone teaching them, but I would prefer working in a shop and learning. But whatever I just gotta keep applying and talking to them...

Just knowing that they get so many requests makes me feel horribly awkward.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And that's the pompous attitude I'll never understand. Who says that the people that walk in the door haven't been struggling? Why assume?

But it's ok to you that just because you happen to know an artist they'll give you a shot?

I guess we're different.

I believe in teaching others and educating people into doing the right thing.

It just gets under my skin when professionals complain about people starting off in their basements, when it's almost a one in a million shot you'll get someone to teach you.

Anyway... I guess I'm just frustrated. I have no time to socialize and hang out in shops like I did when I was 14.

The *way* they want people to do things is a little unrealistic for me BECAUSE of the fact I'm working my ass off to get to where I wanna be!

I know you've said you're looking for an apprenticeship, so firstly -- and this is not coming from a pompous holier-than-thou attitude -- tread lightly here. One of the reasons we've lost solid contributing tattooers to LST is for this very reason. Every few months someone joins up and says, "Hey, I want an apprenticeship, what's the problem?!" The forum is here to help and to share -- but not when it comes to technical how-tos and certainly not when it comes to the ins-and-outs of getting your foot in the door.

Second -- and this is coming from only a very slightly more life experience -- go get tattooed. I know you've got two tattoos.. But apprenticeship aside, if you want to learn about tattoos and that world, go. get. tatt.ooed. Make that your primary goal, put the apprenticeship out of your mind. How do you know that you want to commit your life to something when you've only got two tattoos? I bet things will be a little more clear after having spent more than a few hours in a tattoo shop.

Tried being as nice as possible here and there's a good chance it's as nice a response as you may get.. It's not that it's a cult or that people are assholes. Take a step back. Listen to what people are saying. Godspeed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now