I read this earlier today and loved it! It highlights the reality to wannabe apprentices compared to the Kat Von D ideal of living like a rockstar.
Can't see that it has been shared already... hope this isn't a duplicate thread!
I am looking to gain an apprenticeship at present, and I know how difficult it is to get someone interested in my work! It isn't easy but would be worth it!
If you are thinking about getting into the industry, give this a read and a lot of thought!
Those of you already experienced and in the industry, it would be awesome if you'd like to add your thoughts along this subject too.
Click out the link / or continue reading below...
Brandon Collins: “So you wanna be a tattoo artist?” | TAM Blog
"With the invention of tattoo “reality” shows, the average un-tattooed or mildly tattooed person is led to believe that tattoo artists are superheroes: they can draw an entire back piece in 15 minutes, go out to the clubs all night and still come to work on time, able to tattoo whatever you want, wherever you want it.
That sounds awfully appealing to some kids–but it couldn’t be any further from the truth. Anyone who has spent time in a tattoo shop knows that most tattooers are your average hardworking dads and moms with mortgages, car payments and phone bills,not prima donna rockstars that get VIP everywhere and drive Lamborghini’s. Those TV shows make a mockery of our profession and because of them, our trade has been diluted by half-ass, mediocre tattooers. Not only have these hacks not paid their dues, but they pump out crappy $20 tattoos that the average joes doesn’t even realize are shit.
Before deciding you want to be a tattooer, think about this: Say my appointment for the day doesn’t show up, so that $400 I needed to pay rent and put food on my table will just have to wait. If YOU go to work and no one shows up, YOU still get paid and so you can afford to sit home home and watch “TATTOO SCHOOL” and say to your stoned roommate “bro, I can totally do that shit!”. You get breaks and paid holidays, insurance and an guaranteed paycheck every week. We don’t. We work 50-60 hours a week tattooing, drawing and painting with no medical benefits and no retirement funds.
Don’t listen to your family. That skull with the lightning bolts and a joint in its mouth you drew in the 8th grade ISN’T amazing. Your parents, close family members and friends are always going to tell you that you are a natural artist. Their biased encouragement will only give you the false confidence to go into a tattoo shop and get your feelings hurt. Tattooing isn’t a hobby or something just to pass the time. It is a profession and a sole mean of income, so if you think we will welcome you and your “tat guns” into our trade with open arms, you are sorely mistaken. Apprenticeships are meant to be hard–to weed out the undeserving. If you are lucky enough to get one (and I do mean lucky) you will be taught a skill that can carry you for the rest of your life and you are forever indebted to the person who taught you. There are those dip-shits that don’t have the balls to go into a tattoo shop and try to get an apprenticeship – or they did and were tossed out, just order some “guns” online and “do tats” out of their house. Not only is this completely disgusting, unsanitary and unethical, but also illegal. Don’t even think about doing that. Those fucktards can do some real and irreversible damage to someone not to mention potentially spread disease.
Most tattoo artists don’t make a lot of money. Tattooers get paid by the hour but that money isn’t dumped right into our pockets. We have to give a percentage to the shop and pay for supplies and what-not. In reality we only get a fraction of what we charge for your tattoo. So when you tell me, “Dannnng $100?… Thats a lot, you must be rich!” and I want to run a steel spike through your head, you will understand why. As I mentioned before, if an appointment doesn’t show up or you don’t have anything scheduled, you don’t get paid. Imagine going to your job at Home Depot or where ever and working a full day without pay.
So next time you have the urge to be like Kat Von D or whatever rockstar tattooer is the flavor of the week… remember this: Countless hours of work for minimal pay and no benefits is the life that we have chosen and will defend with extreme prejudice. Do yourself a favor: keep your day job, and leave our profession alone."
Written by Brandon Collins
Brandon owns and works at Nightmare Studios in Reno, NV.
Welcome to Nightmare Studios
My failed apprenticeship
I apprenticed at a shop that was an original in my state. The guy who owned it opened in 1991 and in 09 singed the shop over to another guy an has half ownership. Ill start like this ive been a scratcher since high school I never took on big tattoos nor got my equipment from ebay an never made money.
My mom is a nurse so cross contamination is common sense and bbp and also layers of skin. After 3 years of tattooing in my house I decided I should get an apprenticeship so I can make money and also be respected. My cousins boyfriend is a tattoo artist who has been tattooing for 15 years professionally very well known in my state, he as well taught me some things and recommended to get an apprenticeship.
Ok so minus the 8 months of looking for an apprenticeship I find one and as I did mention I got my apprenticeship at a cool shop (cool as in a what I thought would be a knowledgable old school place). It was what I expected clean and keep quiet and in my down time draw.
This goes on for months and I finally learn cleaning tubes breaking down and setting up. In this point in time me and the old owner are very good friends smoking cigarettes all the time, drawing, and busting the big bosses balls. I like to think my apprenticeship was old school pay nothing an work like an animal an take shit from everyone I signed up for this I can't complain about how I was treated.
So moving on to my point we had a Christmas party 2 or 3 weeks ago (2013). And my boss (the guy who owned the place in 09) tells me "fuck you I hope you hit a tree and die", all because I didnt give someone a ride home due to no gas because I work for free every day.
Now I said hey there's a line you don't cross I can handle the your a retard, you suck, you'll never be anything, you will never tattoo bullshit apprentices hear but wishing death upon someone is morally wrong also I pretty much was held down to get a tattoo I did not want.
These are my 2 reasons I quit. I'm still tattooing and yes my work has improved over 8 months of apprenticing. I need advice I want to be working in a shop but with no license for tattooing I have to be an apprentice all over again and I wouldnt mind but im not paying to be treated like shit and used when half of the people who work in a shop (locally) started in a kitchen, like my boss.
I have all my own professional equipment and dont know how to approach a shop about a job I do have a portfolio of drawings and tattoos I have done and have a few good references of artists in my state. Any advice would be awesome.
- Rhode Island is where I am from in case you were wondering
My name is Lee, Although most call me Bunk. I though I'd introduce myself as yesterday was the first day of my apprenticeship at Dragstrip tattoos (UK). It was pretty much the best first day ever. I did a lot of hard work cleaning the entire shop top to bottom, learnt loads about the cleaning and sterilisation processes and how rigorous everything has to be. Also got to watch one of the main artists Duncan do a seven hour session on the start of an amazingly detailed realism sleeve, he then gave me a machine to rebuild and tune, then one of the other tattooists gave me a small tattoo on my leg :D
I'll be learning under the amazing artists there Alex Bowron, Duncan Whitfield and Marcelina Urbanska. I feel pretty damn honoured to be given the chance to learn there so will be working as hard as i can to learn about technique, tuning and anything else related to tattooing. The studio has such an amazing atmosphere and all they care about is doing good tattoos so I really feel like I've fallen in with the right bunch. Please feel free to check out my page (i'll be putting my colour works and the stuff i've made specifically with tattooing in mind up shortly on my page) and the studios page, i'm sure i'll be on here a lot more from now on!