We get many requests for tattoo apprenticeships. We even have an online guide. Usually we are asked if we are hiring or looking for apprenticeships. These inquiries usually come in via email. Normally we reply with “not currently”. If we were to take on an apprentice, it would not be via email.
An apprenticeship is a huge commitment on behalf of both the person teaching and the person learning. If you are serious about wanting to tattoo, you will show up in the shop. Emails and phone calls about apprenticing are not considered a serious effort on the part of the learner. Any shop that replies to your email with “sure we need an apprentice” is probably just looking to take advantage of your free labor. Shops that are posting ads hiring apprentices may also be looking to take advantage, especially if it is a “only $3000 and 6 months” kind of deal. Do your research, look at portfolios, ask questions.
Since opening 717 Tattoo has never took on a traditional apprentice. We have yet to have anyone show the desire and wherewithal to impress upon us their commitment to learning. For great tattooers, tattooing is a lifestyle, not a job. A potential apprentice would have tons of free time and would be able to survive without a paycheck for at least the first year or two. The shop will demand most of your free time, so it is important you do not want or have a life for the first couple years.
If you want to learn how to tattoo there are many things you can do before you start an apprenticeship. Get a tattoo, take art classes, draw, network with tattooers, paint, stop in at shops with your art portfolio, hang out in tattoo shops, draw more, take blood borne pathogen training, draw, learn first aid and cpr, read about and study anatomy, study tattoo art and history, draw, attend conventions, get more tattoos.
Take some initiative and show the tattoo shop you want to apprentice at that you are serious. Sending us an email does not mean you are serious.