How to Get a Tattoo Apprenticeship

Posted by Dragon Tattoo on

If you’re interested in learning how to tattoo, it's important that you do it right. There’s nothing more damaging to your reputation than people or a single person, out there showing the world how horrible your tattoos are, or infections they got due to your faulty practices. It pays to learn everything you can through a well schooled tattoo professional. It will be difficult finding a mentor but they are out there. If possible, try to find a trained artist with several years of practical experience under their belt. 

You may find yourself visiting several shops without finding anyone who is willing to take you in, but, here are four tips that can help increase your odds of getting a tattoo apprenticeship:

Research In Advance

Before asking the staff of any tattoo shop if they offer apprenticeships, take a look at their work. Do you like their work they created in their portfolio? Would this shop be a place that you’d be excited to learn and work in? A good starting point would be a shop where you have been tattooed. Get to know more about the shop you’re interested in and their artists beforehand to be certain the atmosphere is one where you feel you would be a good fit. Ask around! Talk to friends and family members who have been tattooed in the shop and reading the information on their website.

Your Portfolio Is Key

Tattoo artists aren’t looking for your knowledge or experience in the tattoo industry. On the contrary, they want someone with little to no experience in tattooing, but is willing to learn. Still, you should be prepared to show the skills you have. 

Include a wide array of art, focus on design flow, line consistency and an understanding of color theory among others. Since you’ll be doing many drawings during your apprenticeship, it's important to research popular tattoo designs, (trend), and include your own rendition of them in your portfolio.


Most professional tattoo artists want to dedicate hours of their time teaching someone to tattoo, only for them to disappear after a few weeks. So, you must prove to your potential mentor that you will show up, work and learn without excuses, absences and that you will not leave them any time soon.

Exercise being determined in your pursuit. If you’re turned down at first, come back a few more times just to say hello. While you are there, show that you’re interested in becoming part of the team by lending a helping hand; for example, you might assist a customer in picking out designs, take out trash or fetch some water without being a bothersome to other artists...(kind of like a humble steward until they acknowledge that,'re serious). These shop owners are usually artists themselves. They see many people coming through their door. Be noticed but not a nuisance to them.

Always Check Your Attitude

No shop owner is willing to deal with a bad attitude, check that mess at the door or that will be as far as you go. So, be respectful at all times, even if someone throws you shade. You are there to persuade them to teach you what they know, so don’t go on telling them how much you already know. Instead, remain humble, willing to learn and then you have a much better chance of getting a tattoo apprenticeship.

Tattoo shops are like most work places although, their rap is that they are tough on up and coming artists. You may one day be a competitor of theirs, but this is probably not the reason they will be 'rough' in their treatment toward you. With such a high number of potential artists that would love to learn tattoo artistry and to make a living at it, they are going to be tough on you. Consider it maybe like a test? The test will be, can you handle unhappy customers, customers having a bad day...things of that nature. They want to know that you have customer service talent and that someone giving you some grief will not unglue you. They want to know that you have grit and heart, that you will stick around and you will pull your weight. Ask smart questions...look some of the obvious answers up online and don't bother them with this. Ask them questions such as, what would you do, how would you handle this...Most people do not mind helping others if you ask for it, often, it is in the way you ask ~


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