ApprenticeLife

The journey of a lifetime.

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Hi everyone. I'm 8 months into my 2 year apprenticeship and it's the most amazing and challenging thing I've ever done. I see a lot of people complaining about how hard it is to "get" an apprenticeship, but I have news for you, kids... getting it is the easy part. You are going to be exhausted and broke. I out in about 70-80 hours per week. I get to the shop before the owner and I am the last one to leave. I answer all of the phone calls. I schedule all of the clients. I clean everything, constantly. I scrub all of the barrels. I run the autoclave. I keep track of sending out spore tests. I take inventory and place orders when supplies are low. I paid for my own license and BBP certifications. I do preliminary consultations. I confirm appointments. I draw lettering and other design components. I watch tattoos, all day, every day. I give aftercare instructions. I set up work stations; I break down workstations. I set up all the machines; I break down all the machines. I sanitize all surfaces. I mop floors. I make stencils. I only have Sunday off and I go in anyway to clean even more and get some drawing/melon tattooing done.

I get paid nothing. I'm burning through my entire life savings (the apprenticeship did not cost me money though). With all that said, I love it. My teacher is giving me a career. We have become great friends and, he admits, I have made him a better tattooer and increased his bookings. I'm saying all of this, because we are in a strange time in tattooing. I have been getting tattooed for almost 15 years now and this has been a dream if mine since that first tattoo. Everybody wants to take a shortcut and do color portraits in the first month of their apprenticeship. My teacher hasn't even let me tattoo a person yet and when I do start it, it will be a bunch of small, black silhouette tattoos. There are a million ways to learn this trade, but everyone that has done it this way is a working tattooer that supports a family. I just wanted to introduce myself and give any would-be apprentices a realistic view into an actual apprenticeship. It's hard. It's time consuming. It's inspiring. It's 2 years for the rest of my life as an artist. Anyway, I'm hopefully doing my first tattoo on a person this Thursday and I'm stoked. A small, black Ohm symbol on a girl's inner arm. You have to crawl before you walk and being ok with that will help you more than anything. Thanks for reading this novel.

-Nate

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From the deep sea of weird-ass intro threads and bizarre requests for "help" emerges this awesome story. Welcome to LST, and congratulations on making your first tattoo! I look forward to seeing it and hearing more from you.

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Wow, Nate. Kuddos to you for pursuing your dream! Sounds like you have a true passion for the business and that passion will pay off eventually. Your situation reminds me of myself when I became an auto mechanic. I was buried $300+ per week in tool payments and the jobs I was given for the first year were bottom feeder, low paying jobs. For a while I was barely scraping by at $12/hr but I stuck with my goal as you are with yours, and did everything I needed to do and now my career is very rewarding and I still continue to grow. I have never been artistic by any means but I always like to hear of new artists emerging. Good luck Nate and stick with it man!

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From the deep sea of weird-ass intro threads and bizarre requests for "help" emerges this awesome story. Welcome to LST, and congratulations on making your first tattoo! I look forward to seeing it and hearing more from you.

Haha right on. I bet it gets repetitive and weird with some of the posts around here. I'm just trying to lead by example in an industry that needs to retain the heritage and respect it deserves. It's an ancient art and I think people forget that. It's like I told my teacher the other day, "people need to understand that a sleeve is not a coach purse... it's a journey".

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What a fantastic post. Keep writing.

- a civilian

Thank you for taking the time to read it. Looking forward to sharing more of my experiences. Like today... It was a doozy! I'll have to save it for another time though, because I need to go in early tomorrow.

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Welcome to LST! I feel like I'm echoing a few people here but this really is a refreshing perspective for an intro thread. Keep at it

Thank you for the support. I'm glad I could shed some light on a seemingly mysterious situation. Like I said, everyone seems to complain about how hard it is to get an apprenticeship. I want to tell them, "you don't 'get' an apprenticeship. You earn it. Every second of every day". Not everyone that wants to be a doctor gets into med school. You have to work hard, even when it seems impossible. You have to get taken to the edge of quitting and show up early the next day. If you are too cool to mop a floor or clean a toilet, you won't make it. I am being trained to be an artist, a technical tattooer, a businessman, a manager, a receptionist, a high-risk biohazard cleaner, a psychiatrist, a comedian, a storyteller, a mind reader. If anyone thinks they "deserve" to be an apprentice, because they can draw... they have more to learn than I can write in this comment. Haha Can you tell I've been thinking about this a lot? Thanks again, exume.

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