I got a email recently from someone who was interested in tattooing and I get that from time to time. So here it is- what I believe is the way to go about getting involved in tattooing...Reminder, I am strong minded and opinionated so you can take what you will from this.
When I receive emails from people basically asking for my input, I give it to them and then they say Ok, whatever and I never hear anything like "oh, that sounds right and I really value your opinion" It's always a let down for me when it ends that way. It's like people that no nothing about this industry just can't accept the truth I give them.
There is certain steps to getting started in tattoos or seeking a apprenticeship and yes, you do need one I don't believe in teaching yourself out of a house!
So first off you must be an artist. Right? You must be someone that loves to draw and has been doing it for many years. If you get this crazy idea that you want to become a tattoo artist for some reason, figure out why you are compelled. I always tell people that are interested in becoming a tattooer is that you must get tattooed by as many people that (you admire) can. Seek them out, look at their books, save the money and get tattooed. Do not be annoying and pick their brains about it, but observe to yourself. I would advise you not to tell anyone you want to become a tattooer, they will most likely laugh at you.
Do not even think about buying a tattoo kit online. This is awful and should be illegal. Tattooing involves blood borne pathogens. You need to be trained in this matter with a professional on how to handle the equipment and keep yourself and others safe. I think it is so terrible that companies sell this equipment to anyone online. When I first started it was very hard to have equipment available and you had to be a professional! A lot guys back in the day had and used homemade equipment...machines, ink, etc.
So basically you have to get an apprenticeship in tattooing, ya dig so far?
In order to get one- it is very hard, but there are some guys that do apprentice people. You should have a artists portfolio- a portfolio that includes drawings that you have done, maybe some paintings, but drawings are closer to tattooing and that is where a potential instructor could really read where you are at with your art.
The basics of tattoos start with traditional work. Study Sailor Jerry's work. He is the American Master of this and you will learn a ton from this. And they don't call him a master for nothin'! When you start with tattoos it starts with lines, so this is what you need to practice to get anywhere else. Basics first then comes techniques.
All these people that contact me don't even know who Sailor Jerry is and don't want to practice drawing coloring book style tattoo but I believe you must!
There is so many books on tattoo history now, I would study that as well. Know who the Godfathers are. Really immerse yourself. It seems like all the people that contact me about wanting to tattoo are art students, having a degree in some kind of art form through a design school, but the thing you must realize is that tattooing is nothing like painting or printing or sculpting.
This field is a very very hard line of work. It is not all fun and games like the TV shows portray. It takes a ton of hard work and diligence... Most people are not cut out for this line of work. It is a heavy responsibility. So not for the faint heart. A lot of people that tattoo can not have families. You most likely will not have health insurance or dental coverage. You will not have a retirement plan.
This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but I believe I was born for it. I started very young by dumb luck and wouldn't change a thing. Yet, I think sometimes to myself if I knew then what I know now, would I even have gotten myself in this? Hellz yes I would!