Tattooing is one of the most rewarding, fulfilling careers that you can have in life. It’s creative and thoughtful, yet busy and fast-paced too. The connection between an artist and a client is truly inspiring, and being able to provide someone with a piece of art that they’ll treasure for life is an absolutely magical experience.
It is, however, pretty difficult to get into tattooing. To become a tattoo artist, you need to find a tattoo artist who’s willing to take you on as an apprentice- and this is a lot easier said than done. It’s incredibly rare to find a studio that’s actively hiring for apprentices, and it can take a lot of persuasion to get an artist to take one on.
So, how on earth can you find yourself an apprenticeship in a reputable studio?
Draw everything, everyday
Drawing constantly is hugely important for two reasons. Firstly, drawing and creating lots is going to provide a great foundation for your portfolio. To really stand out from the crowd, you’re going to need a portfolio packed full of unique, creative work.
Another reason why drawing all the time is important is that it helps you improve over time. Tattooing is a field where you’re going to need to constantly improve and gain new skills, so get into the habit of drawing every day now.
Be patient and resilient
Getting a tattoo apprenticeship and training up can take years of critique and refusal. So, you’re going to need to be resilient and able to take criticism on the chin.
Additionally, learning to tattoo or even getting into a studio can take a long, long time. You’re going to need to be calm and patient. Try to keep your goals in mind, and don’t lose track of the reasons why you want to tattoo in the first place.
Get in touch with studios and artists
Networking is hugely important when it comes to being a tattoo artist, and it’s even more important when you’re trying to find an apprenticeship. Like we said earlier, it’s rare to see places hiring for tattoo apprentices openly. So how can you find an opening in a shop?
Put simply, you need to ask. Turn up at a local studio or drop them a message, and try to strike up a conversation. Tell them that you’re looking for a role in a studio, and emphasize your current skills and love for the industry. This can be difficult for more introverted people, but people can’t hire you if they don’t know that you exist.
Don’t commit yourself to a particular style
Many apprentices and aspiring artists feel the need to have a particular, defined style before they even set foot in a studio. While it’s good to know where you want to go with your career, try not to limit your options. Keep an open mind to all styles of art and tattooing, and be prepared to have your favorite styles flipped on their heads.
Get as much feedback on your work as possible
Before you even get into a studio, you’re going to need to have a good body of work to support you. Therefore, you’re going to need to get as much criticism and feedback on your work as possible. Reach out to other artists, and ask them to figuratively rip your work to shreds. This is the best way to learn and get better.
Being able to take criticism is an absolutely vital part of being a successful tattoo artist. Not being able to listen to feedback is not going to get you very far as a new artist.
Don’t take no for an answer
When it comes to approaching studios, you’re going to need to be annoying. If you get turned away in person, send them a follow-up email to thank them for their time and send over your portfolio. Don’t take it personally if an artist doesn’t seem to have the time of day to speak with you- just keep trying again.
Pick up other skills to set yourself apart
Tattooing is a very overcrowded industry, and there are a lot of people looking for apprenticeships. Therefore, any extra skills or qualities that you can gain while trying to get an apprenticeship will be very valuable for helping you to stand out from the crowd.
Social media marketing or copywriting could be very valuable skills to have, as could videography or editing. Consider what a studio might want from a new artist and how you could benefit them.
To sum up
To put it plainly, you’re going to need to work hard to find a great apprenticeship and succeed in it. So many people drop out of apprenticeships due to being unable to keep up with the work and demands of the role, so it’s important to prepare yourself as much as possible.
Always keep working on your art, and try to find new ways to better yourself. Keeping inspired and motivated is especially key, so try to surround yourself with as much art and creative media as possible. Apprenticeships can be draining, so try to find a way to keep yourself motivated and happy throughout. It’ll be worth it in the long run.