12 Tips for Getting Started With a Tattoo Apprenticeship

tattoo apprenticeship

Instagram revolutionized the tattoo world, and artists found over 70 percent of their clients there. To become a tattoo artist, begin building your portfolio and presence online. Keep reading if want to pursue an apprenticeship.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to become a tattoo artist and secure a tattoo apprenticeship with a reputable shop. Start practicing and developing your skills.

You will need to provide examples of your artwork before meeting the owner.

Ready to learn more? Check out the tips below.

1. Begin Growing as an Artist

You should look at practicing your art and push yourself to grow and learn new skills. Try drawing in many different styles. Try to practice drawing for one hour a day. Some artists will wonder if they should pursue tattoo art.

Sketch minimalistic, surreal, and realistic subjects. Try detailed images from art books or the internet. Recreate these images. Use other source materials.

Drawing a natural face or body is one of the main requirements. Try working on realistic portraits. People often ask tattoo artists to complete images of family members or friends.

It would help if you took some preliminary sketches and then reproduced them on someone’s body. Your ability to ask for pictures and produce them will help you earn an apprenticeship.

2. Build Your Portfolio

Start putting together a portfolio. Your portfolio should reveal your artistic flexibility and ability.

Put together up to 10 drawings that you’ve mastered. Try common tattoos like skulls, flowers, dream-catchers, or crosses. Take the chance to market yourself to interesting tattoo shops.

A portfolio with a variety of pieces should reveal your ability. You should include some original parts that will also show off your style. You will be seen as a more appealing apprentice.

Include some black and white pieces as well. Show your ability to work with pencils, markers, and colored ink.

Try formatting your portfolio like a list of flash sheets. You should have individual pieces containing up to four images on the sheet. This is a traditional format found in a tattoo artist’s portfolio.

3. Start Applying to Tattoo Shops

People might pursue a visual art degree at college to stand out. You could also follow different styles of art and composition methods. You’ll stand out from other potential apprentices applying.

Some art schools will have classes on tattooing. It’s not a rule to go to art school. You could always take some art classes from your local college.

4. Get the Right Vaccines

Before you start training, you’ll want to get a hepatitis B vaccine.

Call your doctor and get more information about scheduling a vaccine. In most countries and states, it’s a legal requirement to have this vaccine before working. This will protect you while working.

You should still take the vaccine even if it isn’t a rule. Hepatitis B can get passed through blood. Tattoos usually bleed when the needle contacts the skin.

After you get your vaccine record, place it in the portfolio. You can show interested mentors.

5. Research Tattoo Artists

Find an artist online in your area. Spend time researching online to find excellent artists.
You should read the shop reviews. Look at the different tattoo art styles to see what will fit your suited style.

Does a certain artist appeal to you? If their shop’s reputable, consider contacting them about a potential apprenticeship program.

Spend some time looking for a mentor. Most tattoo artists will not accept a random person as an apprentice.

Famous artists usually have a long wait list for apprentices. It might take months to find an artist, so start in advance.

6. Find Shops That Accept Apprentices

Spend time searching a tattoo parlor’s website. Do they accept apprentices? Before shopping, check out the tattoo parlor’s website. Search the site and see if there are any openings for apprenticeships.

Most shops will mention if they don’t open up to apprenticeships. If there are openings, find out if there are any specific requirements.

7. Make an Excellent Impression

When you go to meet the owner, you should try and prepare some responses to interview questions. Make sure you dress in clean clothing, take care of your hair, and get a good night’s sleep beforehand.

Introduce yourself and explain who you’re waiting to meet. Mention you have a portfolio you’d like to share with the owner. They might bring you right to the manager, or they will tell you to come back at a later time.

There usually aren’t formal applications for tattoo apprenticeships. Each process will differ based on the shop. Most tattoo parlors are laid back. Make sure you don’t overdress.

Bring your resume in case. They might want to know about your previous work experience.

8. Talk to the Mentors

When visiting the different tattoo shops, you should speak to the mentors. Ask them to look over your portfolio. Ask to see their portfolio.

It would help if you complimented them on their work. Ask the artist some questions about their process. Show you’re interested and ready to learn more. Make sure you answer their questions honestly.

The mentor might ask you why you want to work at that tattoo shop. Make sure you’ve spent some time thinking up an appropriate answer.

There aren’t formal interviews for these positions. Some casual conversations will inform their decision.

Most artists will have a friendly chat with potential apprentices. They want to know you as a person before offering a position.

Most artists will want to see you a few more times. They might invite you to come to hang out at the shop for a bit before they make a final decision. It’s unlikely that the mentor will offer you a position right then and there.

9. Hang Around at the Shop

Another way people get invited into apprenticeships is through their connections. Some tattoo aspiring artists will spend time at the shop and show their work to the tattoo artists. Even if the artist says, you shouldn’t come by and hang out, pop in every so often.

The more you’re in the shop and hanging out, the more comfortable the leading artist will feel.

It’s typical for new apprentices to hang out at the shop they would prefer. It might take weeks, but the shop may soon warm up to having you around as an apprentice.

10. Don’t Give Up

If you’d like to be a tattoo artist, you shouldn’t give up. Work hard on developing your portfolio. Spend time meeting the different mentors and talking to them.

Try to pursue other art styles and grow as an artist. It will take some time to become a tattoo artist.

It would help if you showed your face frequently at the tattoo shop you’d like to work. The workers will become more comfortable with you, which might help you land an apprenticeship position.

When you see the particular artist you want to work with, ask them about the position. Is there anyone who could work with you or teach you? Find out if the shop even offers apprenticeship positions.

11. You Need to Be Respectful and Professional

Working in a tattoo environment will challenge you. You should make your best effort to work as a professional and respect those around you at any shop. You still need to remain respectful since you’re the apprentice.

Make sure you thank anyone who has taken you on as their apprentice. You want to make positive connections and impressions on people. This will improve your chances of getting hired.

Remain communicative and open to constructive criticism. Learn as much as possible during your apprenticeship.

12. Take Some Classes

You could find out if there’s a local tattoo college or academy in your area. Learn from professional tattoo artists. You can begin building your tattoo portfolio at the school.

Also, you might end up meeting a mentor at the academy who will introduce you to other artists. 

Get Ready for Your Tattoo Apprenticeship

Getting a tattoo apprenticeship will take time and effort. Start hanging out at the tattoo shop you want to apprentice at, and meet the staff. Spend time developing your portfolio. You can show your different styles and abilities.

Look at taking some tattoo classes and developing your skills. Meet with potential mentors and find out if they offer apprenticeship programs.

Ready to become a tattoo apprentice? Contact us today for more information.