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  1. #1
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    Question point me in the right direction: I want to be a tattoo artist.

    I know it's one of my life-long dreams... i've always wanted to be a part of that... um... transformation? that moment where people gain control, take control, whatever, of their bodies rather than keeping it the same showroom-floor, day-you-were-born condition.

    But i have no idea what i should do. I've talked to local artists, they've given me pointers and offered apprenticeships,

    but the big word that came out a lot was COLLEGE.

    i'll be going to either Vincennes University or Ivy Tech, both are Indiana colleges.

    I've switched schools (2 middle schools, 3 highschools) a lot, and i haven't been able to get a continuous education because of switching between perochial schools, vocational schools and a regular high school.

    the moving around was because of suspensions and eventual expulsions, and my father's job keeps moving around a lot.

    I'm 17 and i'm a senior in highschool. My grades aren't that great. I've got some potential, or so i've been told, to make good art, but i need some advice on how to get where i need to go.

    you'd think tattoo artists from around here would be the ones to talk to, but no. see, they've already made it. the advice they give is going to be more like a mantra, more vague because the way they started their little... journey was day 1: okay... i need to do this, like this, at this time, this way, and then this,... -almost like a grocery list, a checklist. very specific and detailed. but after years of that, a lot of the goals get engraved into their mindsets, so they're almost autonomous. so all that's left is the big goal, the main objective. And that's the first thing that comes to mind when other people ask for advice. I, uh... i figured that one out on my own, i'm probably wrong.

    That's like asking Marilyn Manson (or some other well known, successful, famous person) how they made it. They're not going to recall every single success and failure and then tell you what to do and what not to do... they're just going to point you in the general direction, like someone giving directions when you pull up to them, roll down your window and ask them for directions at a stoplight, or you catch them walking down the sidewalk.

    some questions i've got, i assume most people are going to just skim through all the above, i'll bulletpoint the big questions.

    -what is the expected salary?
    -how many years of college? what classes?
    -how do i... "apply" to be a tattoo artist?
    -is being successful as a tattoo artist a fluke thing, like being a successful painter? not that common?
    -is there a lot of competition?
    -if you happen to be one or know one, and you've got the time, i'd be interested in hearing your story. the guys in the shop were always busy with another client or just annoyed by my greenness and overenthusiastic inquisition...
    -with the training i'd need to be a tattoo artist, are there other jobs i could get? like as a stand-by?
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  3. #2
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    You don't need to go to college to be a tattoo artist. The way it works is that you find a shop or an individual to apprentice you, a good way is to get a job as a shopboy. The apprenticeship usually sucks, but it all depends on who is in charge of it. You'll spend lots of time doing the things the artists don't want to do. Basically, talk to the artists, they're not rockstars, just guys doing what you want to do. Don't believe the attitudes they put off, they're just like you. If you find someone talented that is willing to teach you, don't hesitate to get on it, because apprenticeships are hard to find (at least around where I live).

    I started art school wanting to be a tattoo artist, but after seeing a lot of the industry, I'm not so sure it's a career I want. I love tattoos though.

    -and as to the successful tattoo artist question: there are a lot less serious artists in the field, so if you have real drawing skills, you'll stand out. too many people get by through copying what's been done a thousand times over. it's ogod money, if you stick to it.

  4. #3
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    from the rec.arts.bodyarts FAQ:

    Subject: HOW DO I BECOME A TATTOO ARTIST?

    Depending on how it's asked, this question probably receives the most
    amount of flames when posted to RAB. The general concensus is that there
    is only "one way" to do it, and that is to apprentice, period. There is
    far more to be learned about the art and business of tattooing than what
    can be obtained simply from a book (e.g. customer service, etiquette,
    running a business, dealing with emergencies).

    Ever seen _Karate Kid_ where the boy learns his skills through mundane,
    seemingly unrelated things like waxing a car? Spending eight months to a
    year under a well-established artist's wings can help you to really
    learn what's involved in being a professional tattooist, as well as in
    how to run your own small business. Just as you would never consider
    becoming a professional masseuse or an acupuncturist without proper
    training, neither should you try to become a professional tattooist
    without the proper training.

    Unfortunately, many people consider "proper training" to mean "good at
    drawing and used a tattoo machine." If you are a good illustrator, it
    simply means you might have a better chance at finding an artist willing
    to be your mentor.

    The hardest part of becoming an apprentice is in finding an artist who
    will take you seriously and let you work in the shop. Having a portfolio
    of illustrations will certainly help. You will also end up knocking on a
    lot of doors. Not every artist will want to have an apprentice, since
    that means extra work for them. To prove your commitment, you may be
    asked to put time in without any monetary compensation at all for a
    while. And for many months, all you will do might be answering the phone
    and mopping the floor. But remember that that is all part of your
    training! Wax in, wax out! Expect to devote at least two to three years
    to this form of training.

    Lastly, think very carefully about your consequences should you decide
    not to go with the apprentice route:
    o You may have difficulty becoming an established artist.
    o You may have difficulty finding people you can work on.
    o You may end up with a bad reputation for bad work.
    o You may not learn how to run a business, and end up having to
    declare bankruptcy.

    ...be happy you're not trying to become a master sushi chef: They take
    *12 YEARS* to attain (and it takes five years just to get the privilege
    of cooking the rice).
    so basically, befreind some tattoo artists and ask for an apprenticeship
    ...so what if i'm bored, and ordinary?...

    currently playing: Super Mario 64 DS, ICO (grrrr....)

  5. #4
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  6. #5
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    I also thought about becoming a tattoo artist, but i thought about it, and decided ill just stick to getting tattoo's instead of giving them.

    -what is the expected salary? - Around here a good artist will make $100 for an hour of tattooing, but that doesnt include prep work (cleaning, tuning, drawing the tattoo)

    -how many years of college? what classes? dont need it to be a tattoo artist, anyone with a steady hand could be a tat artist with the proper training, but they would have to stick to the boring flash on the wall

    -how do i... "apply" to be a tattoo artist? - Ask around, do your homework, find an artist that looks like he could use an extra hand around the shop. or go around the shops and get to know the artists, find one you like and maybe get a tattoo by him, then you have a whole bunch of time to talk to him

    -is being successful as a tattoo artist a fluke thing, like being a successful painter? not that common? by where i live, they have this place called End of the Trail, its a tattoo shop, the artists do good solid tattoos, but all they do is flash basically, but they are very successfull, on the other hand theres another guy named Chow, he is easily said, a badass, the guy can draw anything, hes got tons of awards, and runs a nice lil shop kind of hidden, but the place is booked for months at a time, cause the guy is so talented, and only does custom work

    -is there a lot of competition? i think the area makes a big difference, any good tattoo shop will keep busy, i think especially in this era, tattoos are becoming way more popular and more accepted by society

    hope this helps, if its your dream dont give it up and go out and find that apprenticeship

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