Tattooing has become such a sought after career that now more than ever people want to get into the business. Years ago, this was a mystery but with the invention of the internet, tips and advice in securing an apprenticeship are readily available, however the vast majority of people can't be bothered to Google even the basics prior to approaching a shop.
This phenomenon has created a distaste in the mouths of almost every artist and shop and has become a sore spot that no one wants to speak up about for fear of offending.
The reality is, if you can't be bothered to respect the industry you want to become a part of, you're in the wrong industry.
Tattooing and respect go hand and hand.
So here's our top nine tips to pissing off the artists' you're approaching and guaranteeing you'll never succeed in your endeavour:
9. Send an Email, Facebook Message or Comment on an Unrelated Status
Nothing says "I respect the industry and am taking this seriously" like a generic email.
BONUS POINTS: If you leave a 4 star review while simultaneously requesting an apprenticeship or ask US to call you to further discuss this offer.
Your offer is not an opportunity to a shop. Apprentices are years of work where the artist gets nothing back but the hope that the apprentice turns out to be worth their time, finishes the apprenticeship and sticks around longer than 5 minutes after they've started tattooing.
8. Apply at a Shop You've Never Been Into or to an Artist You've Never Met!
We wholeheartedly wait with bated breath for a stranger to appear before us that we can eagerly bestow years of knowledge and time onto.
Try investing in your artist and gaining a real relationship prior to even asking, getting tattooed by your artist several times over months or years builds a level or trust in your love, respect and dedication as well as you show you respect the artist as an artist.
7. Only Half Finish Your Art OR Bring in an Empty Portfolio
The best way to show you understand the attention to detail and precision it takes to tattoo is by taking zero time to throw together a portfolio.
Try taking a few hours to curate a meticulous and well thought out portfolio to present to the artists, preferably showcasing multiple styles of art. We want to see as much of your art as possible but it should be shown to us with pride and attention to detail.
As a manager, I will literally take a look at a resume and if it is not aesthetically pleasing, easy to read, well thought out and precise, I toss it in the garbage. Your portfolio is your resume; Take the time to make it stand out against literally hundreds of others.
6. A Good Portfolio Features Your Best Infections & Blowouts!
We look forward to you dropping off your portfolio of scratcher "tats" — your pride in safe and clean practices is worth writing home about, clearly Blood-borne Pathogens and Cross Contamination are your passion, just in the opposite way we are looking for.
BONUS POINTS: Showing off your Turkey Club sandwich behind your setup shows us you can multitask like a boss AND that you're a kitchen magician in more than one sense. Thanks but we're not hungry.
5A. Suck Your Artist's Dick, Literally
(assuming they have one, but hey, we needed a catchy title)
This works best if the artist is married or in a relationship. That ALWAYS ends well.
5B. Suck Their Dick, Figuratively
Try to avoid requiring skill by flattery.
4. Tell Your Artist You've ALWAYS Wanted To Tattoo, Since Watching the Latest Season of Ink Master.
Reality TV shows what the industry is like, EXACTLY. We are just dying to add people to our shop that want to be an artist based on the reality tv parties, glam and money.
The reality of a tattoo artist is literally hours of drawing, self loathing, drawing, tattooing, more drawing and more self loathing. Meaning, it doesn't take a 30 minute coffee break to draw a portrait, and it certainly takes more than one sitting for a full sleeve.
3. Squander the Opportunity IF You Do Get One!
Featuring the hits: Never answering a phone, FUCK CLEANING UP AFTER MYSELF IM A ROCKSTAR, Leaving Early & Showing Up Late, Passive Aggressive Muttering Under My Breath, half ass homework and the bonus track - Excuses.
Apprentice: the nice way of saying shop bitch.
You should be constantly doing everything for everyone, ask what is needed daily, go above and beyond in your tasks, put in 110% in everything you're doing and IF you don't want to do that, then don't bother applying.
We love hearing how hard it is, we have no idea because we were never in your shoes. We also don't do everything we do as a test, us being dicks and making you clean up after us isn't to make you prove your dedication or to teach you something important — we are obviously just useless and mean. Wax on, Wax off.
1. Tell Your Mentor Where You Want Your Art to Go
Since you obviously know much more than your mentor, telling them the direction you want to take your art is appreciated. When we give constructive criticism we look for a complete disregard of our advice — this shows a strong will and rebel attitude. Since it's art, there's no right answer so just continue doing you, You Go Girl.
I have been noticing lately, more and more each day, that the industry standard magazines, blogs and fashion have been slowly and strategically creating an expectation of what the rebellious lifestyle looks like, and it's becoming choking. The room for different has been slowly suffocated down to the smallest details of a fashionable identity.
These sites and pages were once full of incredibly in depth articles about artists and icons talking more about their lives and struggles, politics and their views on the world and their respective industries, then articles detailing what brands are popular and what to accessorize your skinny jeans with this week.
As a model who has a decently large following of loyal fans and a track record of many years in the tattoo / alternative industry - I have never been featured in one of these 'big boys' of the industry, but I've seen many 'models' who pop up out of obscurity and then disappear just as fast, thrown into the mix just because they fit into the mold of what 'sexy' looks like in the industry that was started as a "Fuck You" to the normal society.
I've genuinely got an opinion on the culture and an education earned out of years of experience and respect for tattooing, as more than a fashion statement but as a long standing honour to be allowed within. I remember falling in love with the industry and an aesthetic that came with it, back when it was still hidden in darkness and shrouded in taboo. When it was still deemed to be for outlaws and outcasts and when those within the magazines, had a taste for blood and deviation.
I'd like to see us get back there. Not stepping backwards and out of the limelight and popular society mind you, but I'd love to see more articles written on the history and the heritage, I'd love to read about what the artists feel about where we came from and what inspired their style.
I personally still idealize the punk culture from the early 70's, the drama of their addictions, the bikers and outlaws who are the modern day vagabonds and gypsies, the nomads who live by their own rules. I still live for the Do-it-yourself DIY rather than purchasing a pair of strategically torn jeans to go with my $70 shredded t-shirt and pre-studded punk rock patched leather jacket bought from H&M's fall line.
Now don't hear me wrong, I love that moms come in to tattoo shops with their 18year old kids to get matching tattoos and I love hearing people telling us how much, even the smallest tattoo means to their lives and families, I love what we are allowed into the deepest parts of total strangers, even for 30 minutes and leaving with an idea that we are actually doing the smallest scale of good. I love that our industry is thriving and growing, and I love seeing how far the art and technology has come, but
I want to see more people colouring their hair and styling it how-ever-the-fuck they feel rather than worrying about a follower count drop due to not being "sexy enough" - I mean, really, when did your Instagram follower count really help you, besides maybe getting you a couple freebies from a brand that you actually hate but "hey, it's free shit". I want to see more people getting custom tattoos, I mean steal ideas and inspiration but I'd like to see people coming in with the ideas of what they want but the trust, to allow the artist to run with it.
Do you really like the fashion whores that we've become? Because I am pretty fucking tired of seeing carbon copies of a trend and watching everyone struggle to jump on a bandwagon of sheep, all playing follow the leader. How often do you wish to do something but are too afraid to be, different or god-forbid, weird.
We need more weird.
We need more people who are not afraid to stand out, and I for one, don't give a fuck if I'm sexy to a world of spineless fucks with no originality, I would rather be appreciated for my words and actions and my ability to not fold and roll over while chasing my tail - trying to get ahead.
Who's with me?