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TLC's Tattoo School: Dear God, Why?

Updated on September 2, 2012
Dr. L. W. Pogue
Dr. L. W. Pogue | Source
45 years of teaching people to tattoo, and this is one of only 20 images they chose to have on the "school's" website. Amazing.
45 years of teaching people to tattoo, and this is one of only 20 images they chose to have on the "school's" website. Amazing. | Source

For those of you not familiar with the latest in "trash" or reality TV, the TLC channel premiered their new show here in the US this past Tuesday called Tattoo School. The show follows three students in Dr. W. Pogue's two week course at his Shrevport, LA establishment which he calls "The World's Only Tattoo School."

Let me preface this article by stating that I am not in the tattoo industry in any way. Hell, I can't even draw. But I have several friends who make a living as tattoo artists, and just seeing this show I can sympathize with why so many artists and industry people want it banned. Perhaps you are in the industry, though - and maybe throughout my hub you find things that you disagree with completely - that's great, and I hope that you will argue them (albeit politely) in the comments section. Maybe you aren't in the industry at all either, but watched the program and enjoyed it. That's great, too - I'm sure that TLC is very pleased with having you as a repeat viewer.

Personally, I was completely turned off by the program in every way. I love tattoo shows, and have watched all the reality shows, documentaries, and even the more recent "competition" tattoo shows that have aired. Mostly, I just love seeing amazing tattoos done by honest to goodness professional artists. People who have dedicated their entire lives to the art of tattooing. I also love tattoos personally - I've always been fascinated by them, and growing up I couldn't wait to get one of my own. I originally wanted to get tattoos that had "meaning," but like many people I know tattoos become addicting, and soon I was covered. No, my tattoos are not all the greatest. I would never say that any of the ones I have are show pieces - but I will say that none of them are "scratch" pieces, and none of them look even half as bad as any of the horrible pieces that were completed on Tattoo School.

The show, as I said, follows a few students taking Dr. Pogue's (by the way, he's a chiropractor) class. He teaches them the basics of tattooing, from how to actually set up the tattoo machine, to how to create a stencil, to how to tattoo on skin (using piece of pigs - feet or ears, etc.) Then, the scary part - after a week (read: halfway through their course) Dr. P brings in real clients to have tattoos done. So, some of these students, having no artistic ability and only the slightest basic premise of tattooing are now being asked to do real pieces on real people. Now, that's all fine and dandy if the people getting the tattoos are aware of the fact that the artists aren't really artists at all, but students who have zero ability. On the show, Dr. P asks a client once her tattoo is finished "did you know it was [whatever the student's name is] first tattoo?" And the client says "No, I didn't!" Granted that could have just been for television purposes (and it probably was) but come on now - who would volunteer for this?!

In checking out Dr. Pogue's website (www.tattoo-school.com) you can find out that he is, in fact, some sort of "accredited" institution in the state of Louisiana. That's all well and good, too. At least we now know how lax that state of Louisiana is about their "schooling." At the end of the course, if you have proven to Pogue that you have learned the skills necessary to tattoo, then you get a certificate that says you've completed. I'd assume the certificate says "I'M STUPID ENOUGH TO HAVE PAID A HACK $5600 FOR TWO WEEKS OF TATTOO LESSONS." It maybe even has a pretty font, too. (Oh, and yes - that's the real tuition price for this course.)

In watching the show, I couldn't imagine what tattoo shop in their right mind would take someone from this course and give them a job. Dr. Pogue is apparently under the impression that the years of apprenticeship that all good, professional tattoo artists go through is total garbage, and that two weeks is all it will take to make you a professional. You should then be good to go out and open your own business. Forget that he apparently doesn't talk at all about disease prevention, blood borne pathogens, or any sort of general health precautions. That's fine - just learn how to use the tattoo machine, then go get a real job in a shop! And no, they won't make you apprentice when you get there - you've got two weeks and 3 real clients under your belt already! You're already halfway to being in Tattoo Magazine!

It's really just sad, actually, that people are taken by this, essentially, fraud. It should come to no surprise to anyone that during the end of the show, when they showed the young guys and girls holding up their "diplomas" for the cameras, and the super imposed story of "after the show" comes up - it didn't say anything about any of them running their own tattoo shops or getting a job as an artist. In fact, they all said something to the effect of "continued working in their old job, and also tattoo out of their house part-time." Great, so they're tattooing in their home states illegally, and if are caught are more than likely never going to get licensed anywhere in the country. The other couple said "Is looking for a shop to apprentice in."

And that is exactly my point here - why are these people wasting nearly $6,000 to "learn" to tattoo? If you're an aspiring artist, draw some things up. Create a portfolio. Bring it to shops. With that, maybe you could find someone with the time and energy to train you the right way, and bring you up properly in the business. I can almost guarantee though, that if your certificate from "The World's Only Tattoo School" is in the front of your portfolio, they're going to tell you to take a walk. Just like any other facet of life, you have to pay dues. And dues take way more time than two weeks and cost way more money than just $6000...to a chiropractor.

At the beginning of the show, Dr. Pogue states that the tattoo industry hates him for "giving away their secrets." No, Dr. Pogue, I think the industry hates you because you're an old fool of a scam artist, and you're giving the entire tattoo community a bad name. I don't care at all that you've been running your school since 1968. All that means to me is that you've made way too much money and given no real results.

But hey - don't take my word for it...see some completed work done by students here: http://tattoo-school.com/?page_id=120&show=gallery


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      jordan 3 years ago

      HATERS. you just mad cause it took you forever to get your licenses. and these kids get it in two weeks.

    • profile image

      srj 3 years ago

      tattooscorpio.com The tattoo artist, Senad, learned to tattoo from Dr. Pogue, who actually is a tattoo artist btw. Check out the portfolio on his website at tattooscorpio

    • profile image

      kLa 5 years ago

      His site lists the teaching of many things that aren't shown on the show. Each course has a link including what is taught. ALL list - Aseptic Technique, Sterilization. Operational Technique After Care. Being sterile is impossible with a tat but no knowledge is bad.

      What makes my eyebrows rise is in doing a few net searches the only info that I can find seems to be from him. Nothing else and only two pics. Pretty unusual for someone that's accomplished so much for so long.

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Thanks, DS. I don't know many tattoo artists, but when I was getting mine, I was talking with the guy. I did not get the impression from him that it was a two week course. It is a shame that reality TV goes to this extent. Shame on Dr. Pogue. He is a disgrace to both his Hippocratic oath, and the tattoo industry.

    • DS Duby profile image

      DS Duby 5 years ago from United States, Illinois

      I have friends who apprenticed for several years before they considered themselves an artist. They still get paid for their work but it's a lower amount and they always have an experienced professional watching over them.

    • profile image

      justin tang 5 years ago

      horrible, a disgrace, a giant F U to hard working artists everywhere. This Kenny Rogers lookalike isn't even a tattooer. give'm a couple crackerjack machines and teach'em to ride the tip of that tube on 10 volts till the hit bone. He exploits these dumb M.F.s on national tv. Hes a chiropractor and a holistic dr.? just these 2 professions alone are what qualifies this vile human being to having a PHD in bullsht. this hat fckr needs his balls taken off and shoved up his hotdog hole. i hope his private jet crashes on the way to his house in trinidad or his brakes fail in one of his classic cars he collects. have a nice day you waste of life. nice article by the way

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      How long does a tattoo artist normally apprentice for? It seems from what I have heard, it is more than 5 or 6 months.

    • Bob Ferreira profile image
      Author

      Bob Ferreira 5 years ago

      Thank you for both your comments -

      @Cloverleaf - even according to the website of the school, the course is two weeks. Although it does state that "graduates" are also entitled to 12 additional weeks of training to be completed at their leisure. Even still, that's only 4-5 months of training. At this point they could also complete the health training, but nowhere did I find any info on that being part of the training. As far as the students being that "talented," I think that might be a matter of opinion. I wouldn't really call some of the art I saw on the show/pics on the website "talent" at all. But again, that is a matter of opinion. But I wouldn't get any of those tattoos.

      @DS Duby - I'm glad you agree. I also believe it does disgrace the business as well. It's just really sad.

    • DS Duby profile image

      DS Duby 5 years ago from United States, Illinois

      I was worried where you may be going with this hub in the beginning as I'm a fan of tattoos as well, I agree that this show is a disgrace to the business, it's doing nothing but convincing people that anyone can tattoo with the right education. Art of any kind is a born talent all education does is refine your talent. Thumbs up my friend.

    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Great hub. I am sure the customers are told the tattoo artists are new. They would have to be. TLC would be sued. Like going in for a hair cut at a hair salon school. You know they are students.

      I checked out his website, and it would seem to me that these students are all ready artists to some degree. You can't just pic up a tattoo gun, and become that talented.

      It is also funny that he is a chiropractor, an naturopathic doctor too. Those just don't seem to go along with tattoos.

      I would be interested in knowing more about Louisiana laws about tattooing. They must train for more than two weeks, and it is just shortened for the show. I would hope so anyway.

      Vote up, interesting +.