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Getting a Tattoo Apprenticeship: What I've Learnt so Far

Updated on June 12, 2020

Do you want a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing can seem like the dream job. So much so, that you may forget that while it is a wicked-cool job, it is still a job.

Getting a J-O-B as a tattooist still follows the same basic outlines as any other job. This includes still needing a resume, and conducting yourself professionally. That means you should speak to potential mentors in person or via email unless they make it known that they wish to be contacted in a different way, such as a phone-call or via social media apps like Instagram.

This also means you should avoid sending emojis or showing up to their studio without setting an appointment.

Etiquette is just as transferable as the other skills you list on your resume.


If you're just looking at tattooing as a fun pastime, this may not be the best attitude to have when trying to get an apprenticeship.

That's right!

Yes, it's cool. Yes, it's still a job.

What you'll need:

1. A professional resume with transferable skills and relevant information.

2. A well-put-together art portfolio tailored to the specific job-type, i.e. tattooing.

3. The time to commit to a new endeavor.

4. Possibly, money to pay a fee for the apprenticeship.

5. Somewhat substantial artistic ability.

Don't stress!

It's not as complicated as it sounds.

1. A professional resume with transferable skills and relevant information.

It is completely understandable that you would look at you past work experience and think that having "waitress" in your resume would land you a job needling ink into strangers' skin. But it absolutely can.

All you have to do is recognize and list the transferable skills that adhere to each of your past experiences.

For example, being a waitress may have given you the people skills to deal with meeting and interacting with countless new people without social-awkwardness. It may have also prepared you for dealing with difficult customers or swaying people in a certain direction.

Swaying people in a certain direction may seem like an odd thing to mention but is definitely a valid and important ability as you may need it to talk a customer out of a certain tattoo like a non-committal boyfriend's name, the same way you would have had to talk someone out of ordering something you didn't want to have to say the kitchen ran out of, when you were a waitress.

Think transferable!

2. A well-put-together art portfolio tailored to the specific job-type, i.e. tattooing.

There are many videos online that show you how to put together all your best art creations in a portfolio to show potential mentors.

The best tip I can give you is to remember that the art you include doesn't have to be an obvious tattoo piece but must still be a tattoo-able piece.

For example, trees with trunks that just disappear into the bottom of the page is less fitting than, perhaps, a minimalist rose.

3. The time to commit to a new endeavor.

Being a tattoo apprentice will include long hours practicing the craft, watching your mentor work and assisting around the studio however you are asked.

These all take time and are essential parts of becoming an official and good tattooist.

You will need to have an open and designated time-slot in your daily life to fit in a tattoo apprenticeship.

Mentoring you is a major ask of tattooists as they often get nothing out of it (which is why some apprenticeships are not free) so you need to be respectful of their time.

No being late or cancelling last minute. Time-wasting is disrespectful and can have you lose the apprenticeship you worked so hard to get in the first place.

4. Possibly, money to pay a fee for the apprenticeship.

As mentioned above, mentors often get nothing out of the apprenticeships. Many times, mentors teach their apprentices everything they know just to have them leave and open up a shop of their own.

What the apprenticeship is supposed to include is a time-period after the apprenticeship which sees you working as an artist in your mentor's studio.

Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

This means that some mentors charge a fee for an apprenticeship so that the relationship is more mutual.

A win-win.

5. Somewhat substantial artistic ability.

You don't have to be a Picasso reincarnate, but you do need to have some artistic ability in order to qualify for an apprenticeship in tattooing.

Understanding basic shading, color schemes, proportions and things of that sort are all very important skills to already have in order to gain a tattoo apprenticeship.

With all the help you can get online, through courses or simple by doing research and then practicing, you can see significant improvement and potentially earn yourself that much wanted apprenticeship.




The most important thing to know is that anything worth having takes hard work.

Best of luck!

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