You have to apprentice...self taught scratchers rarely ever make it in the real tattoo world.
The money, ha ha ha ha ha, I'm apprenticing, I do NOT make a cent off of anything that I do, which is why I still pierce. If it wasn't for continuing to pierce, I wouldn't even be able to drive back and forth to work everyday. I have to agree with the guy above about having to love the lifestyle, it's not easy, it's not all fun and games, and it sure as hell isn't something to do unless it is an artform that you absolutely love and want to put a lot of time and effort into. The hours are long, the business is totally unpredictable (you may be slammed on a Monday, back to back tattos, then on Tuesday, only do one or 2, then Wednesday do none, then Thursday be slammed all day again...you never know what to expect when you walk in the doors from day to day.).
All these freakin t.v. "reality tattoo" shows have really started a trend of bad artwork coming out of people's kitchens, and have triggered a domino effect of people pouring into studios on a daily basis begging for apprenticeships. Most of these people only want to do it because they think it would be cool to say "I'm a tattoo artist"...this even goes for piercing, I've already turned down 3 people this week begging for apprenticeships and it's only Thursday.
I've been in studio's since I was 14 (10 years ago), just watching, listening, and getting to know how the business works. I apprenticed to pierce in 2002 for 15 months, during which I also learned scarification (tattoo machine and cuttings/skin removal), now 4 years later I'm apprenticing to tattoo and am nearing the end of my first year with a whole year left to go. Body modification is my life, my goals are to learn everything there is to learn that can be done to the human body. The lifestyle is something that I love, changing people's body's to make them more beautiful in their eyes is what drives me, and the money that comes from it is only a bonus. To me it's about helping people be more comfortable in their own skin.
If it is something that you've just recently developed an interest in, then it's not something you should be considering as a profession...the majority of us in this business didn't just wake up one day and decide to become a tattoo artist, piercer, scarification artist, etc, we had an interest in it for a long time before taking the leap into becoming a professional. We didn't just have our opportunities handed to us either, we had to prove ourselves to ourself and our peers, and then prove that we really did have what it takes to advance and become the professionals we are today.
Back to apprenticing, don't just walk into a studio and ask for an apprenticeship, start out hanging around, getting to know the artist, then find out if they need some counter help, if they do, take it. Learn how the studio works as a business, after a while start expressing your interest in learning about modification, if you've proved yourself you may be offered an apprenticeship, if not give it time and ask for one. Be prepared for a year or more of grueling tasks....setting up and breaking down for the artist, cleaning their equipment, doing their line drawings, basically being their b*tch until they are ready to start working with you with a machine in your hand. It's not something that happens over night. If you don't have any artistic ability, then before even doing this, take some classes at a local college in art...without artistic ability you are only a tattooist, with artistic ability you then are a tattoo artist. (There is a difference...a true tattoo artist can draw anything a client requests...there are others who can only do flash, and as I've been taught, those are the tattooists.)
Answered By: smithsalbabe (PiercingsByJulie) - 1/17/2008