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I won’t even call my ‘training’ an ‘apprenticeship’ because I now know that’s not what it was. I got sucker-punched out of 3,500 pounds and then after about six or seven weeks I was let go, because there was no room in the shop for me – despite the fact the owner of the studio I ‘learned’ at had just signed the lease for a second studio a few miles away. The owner of the studio was unfortunately seriously injured in a brawl at his other business, a gym, where he was thrown over the railings of the fire escape about ten feet onto his head. He died from his injuries in hospital and due to some shit talking from another ‘artist’ in that shop, I wasn’t permitted to go anywhere near the shop to pay my respects – that in itself is another story entirely, which I won’t go into right now...ask me again some other time, maybe.

I tattooed grapefruits, pig skin and myself – before doing free tattoos on friends and random walk-ins who’d heard the shop had apprentices that give out free tattoos in order for them to learn. Most of which were dodgy street gang type thugs, so I ended up doing just line work with a bit of black and grey shading for the majority of this ‘apprenticeship’... I don’t recall one instance where I actually fucking used colour. Now when you bear in mind that this was all within about six weeks (not long at all – and no, I don’t think I should’ve been tattooing ANYONE because I wasn’t confident and I wasn’t that good).

I look back on the whole thing now and I realise it was a waste. The guy who was meant to be teaching me was never around and I learnt most of the basics from another artist who now has his own studio and has been quite successful, winning a couple of awards at local conventions last I heard. The only thing I got out of that period was meeting that artist, who was also the only artist in there who tattooed me and we’d chat and draw together (lots of what I know about artwork came from him) – well, not counting the other ‘apprentice’ who scared the fuck out of my right forearm and my right lower leg, blowing out lines fucking everywhere and lining too deep...and to add insult to injury, he even once sprayed my forearm down with neat disinfectant over FRESH LINEWORK. I very nearly punched the kid square in the mouth...thankfully, restraint kicked in and I just screamed through it. He laughed and apologised, but if that’s a way of messing with someone, I can think of better and safer ways.

That was three years ago – I eventually went into another shop, but that one didn’t work out and the guy I was apprenticing under said I was better following my music career as he’d never met anyone so knowledgeable on music before (I’d just finished up two years of music studies at college, and am currently topping that up with a Foundation Degree). So two failed attempts later, I gave up. My family were gutted because they all said I showed real promise and had the talent, I just needed to unlock it and not take people’s bullshit so seriously, so I did some real growing up and now I’m here. Still not tattooing, but reading as much as I can, working on my artwork and am learning to use watercolour paints. The machines I do have, I take them apart, tune them, strip them, put them back together, etc (might aswell get some use out of them!).

I’m still on the lookout for that one artist who I just click with – who can teach me all I want to learn to set me on the right track and after that, it’s up to me. I’ve never been an academic person, much like my parents, I’ve always been on the creative side of things...if I can just find ONE artist who can teach me how to solder a needle by hand, I will be extremely happy...

If anyone has any advice or words of guidance, please feel free – I’d be extremely grateful to hear the words of wisdom from other artists (or even other apprentices – even you guys are higher up the ladder than me, so please don’t leave yourselves out).

Cheers.

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@JaySpike89 - wow that sucks, what a story! Well, "stories" rather. It's good to hear that you are still trying to learn new things while looking for another opportunity. It sounds like you are pretty dedicated to this, and I hope you stick around and do some reading and sharing. I hope this all works out for you.

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@SeeSea - thanks dude, that means a lot. I was simply a naive person who knew no better - I now know for a fact you should never pay anyone to teach you, because you're just as expendable but you stand to lose a small fortune if anything goes wrong. I lost three and a half grand that I'll never see again, but it was a learning experience. In the words of Myke Chambers, one of my favorite artists and sort of a hero of mine: 'May I remain teachable until the day I die' :)

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I spent two years apprenticing in different shops, i ended up shop hopping and apprenticed under five different shops over that time, and I still get incredible support and teachings from local tattooists and old timers, its ended up being pleasant experience now, but after having to leave the first shop i was at after a year, it got so much harder.

I ended up apprenticing under who was my boyfriends at the time's mentor. And since the relationship had already started to go sour, it ended up being a very, very unpleasant experience. He was jealous, and controlling, and constantly complaining that I was tattooing but he wasn't yet (he was only two months deep) And when I broke up with him, it ended up being harassment.

He would do everything from turn off the speaker system if my music was on, to deciding to drop my paperwork from a tattoo i was doing at that moment into the shredder.

At one point, after a month, I did move on and had a fresh relationship, and he was not happy. The next day after the fresh relationship, I did friday the 13th apprentice tattoos, I had 30 slots to do 30 tattoos from 10 am to 10 pm. i hand stenciled sheets ready for the day, and an hour into the day I'm looking for my stencils and drawing copies and he looks right at me and says "they're in the trash, I'm going to make sure your life is a living hell"

it got annoying. I wouldn't be able to find my toolbox or machines cause he would hide them away from where they were supposed to be, he would constantly try to dump my sketchbooks and tracing paper in the trash, and my mentor would sit back and watch, and even with my complaints wouldn't do anything. I went on for another month before leaving and getting an offer for another shop.

To this day, he has the nerve to ask me for a job in a shop me and my original mentor are running. Hes working in a mall shop, constantly posting about his $20 daily 'tattoo specials', and it leaves me with this huge feeling of spite still in my stomach.

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