Tattoo Schools: Apprenticeship or School?

When you are thinking about becoming a tattoo artist there are two ways to do so. Apprenticeship and a tattoo school are the two most popular ways to enter the vocation. Both options are valid but there are some critique to each method.

The old school thought is apprenticeship. This is usually a long term gig without pay. The apprentice will clean the shop and watch the artists as they tattoo. Some consider this a worthless position while others think this is a rite of passage to become an artist. The work is long and some shop owners are very demanding of their apprentices. When the time comes for the apprentice to tattoo for the first time, it is usually under the close eye of the shop owner. Sometimes the apprentice will have to do the tattoo for free and other times the apprentice will have to give the shop owner a huge portion of the profit.

Tattoo School ImageThe other way to become a tattoo artist is to attend a school or take a course. The schools can last from a couple of days to several months. The schools are very pricey and you should be serious if you want to learn to tattoo in this manner. This is where the disagreement comes in. The old school of thought thinks that the right to tattoo has to be earned and that there is actual ‘skill’ within the artist before they are let go on the public. This makes sense because a bad tattoo can scar your skin forever.

An example of a novice tattooist mistake happened in Maine several years ago. A gang banger want to be wanted the word CRYPT tattooed across his knuckles. The young man went to the artist asking for the tattoo and the artist either was not good at spelling or there was a lack of communication between the customer and the artist. When the tattoo was done, the letters (which were very well done) spelled CRIPE. As you can see, the tattoo, that cannot be hidden, was messed up for life.

Self-teaching yourself is dangerous and can cause all kinds of health issues. If you try to teach yourself and you do not have the proper knowledge of sanitation, skin types, inks, and needles tattoo infection could happen. This can cause diseases such as HIV or Tetanus to infect your customer. There is also a little chemistry that should be learned that would be hard to learn on your own. PH values, ink ratios, and needle gauge is important to know and what is read off the internet or learned from a textbook may not be sufficient. It is better to learn from a tattoo schools or from a master of the art.

No matter what direction you take, make sure that the lessons learned are ingrained. You are in charge of your customer’s health and their happiness with the tattoo. One mistake and you could damage your reputation or the reputation and health of the person you are tattooing.

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