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The Tattoo Apprentice


A tattoo artist traditionally gets his title by finishing an apprenticeship program under strict supervision from an experienced professional and senior tattoo artist. A tattoo apprenticeship can span for as long as 4 to 5 years. The tattoo apprentice will be trained in sanitation and very helpful safety procedures, most especially during the first six months to a year of the apprenticeship program. During this period, the apprentice is barred from any tattooing activities but will be expected to take care of the cleanliness of the tattoo studio and learn by observation. Typically, you can expect several years of toilet scrubbing before even touching a tattoo machine.


The cost of apprenticing largely depends on personal circumstances. It can range from free (rarely), the apprentice just does labor around the shop to tens of thousands of dollars. Apprentices are popularly expected to be excellent at drawing tattoos, with an ability to progress at creating design ideas, as well as numerous styles of art in general.


One of the downsides of this traditional model is that you get what you get. If the relationship sours between you and the artist you are simply left stuck in a bad situation. Hazing of Tattoo Apprentices is notoriously brutal and Apprentices often quit due to their mistreatment. Another issue that is being brought into light are the unique challenges faced by female artists who would like to get into the Tattoo industry. Sexual Harassment is widely reported and often bars the entrance to an Apprenticeship, especially in areas that have fewer options available.


Does this outdated method of entry into the Tattoo Industry still have a place in our modern world? Let us know your thoughts!

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