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How Do Tattoo Apprenticeships Work?

Apprenticeships are an excellent way to gain practical skills and knowledge while earning a wage. However, you may wonder, “How do tattoo apprenticeships work?”

Tattooing is an art form that has gained immense popularity recently, with people embracing it as a means of self-expression. If you have a passion for tattooing and dream of becoming a professional tattoo artist, an apprenticeship is vital to achieving that goal. 

This article will delve into the world of tattoo apprenticeships, discussing what they entail and how they work.

How Do Tattoo Apprenticeships Work

What is a Tattoo Apprenticeship? 

A tattoo apprenticeship is an educational program to train aspiring tattoo artists in the skills, techniques, and safety practices necessary for a successful career. It provides hands-on experience under the guidance of an experienced tattoo artist, often referred to as a mentor or master tattooist.

Finding an Apprenticeship

Securing a tattoo apprenticeship can be competitive, as tattoo artists often receive numerous requests from aspiring apprentices. Here are a few steps to increase your chances of finding an apprenticeship:

  1. Research: Familiarise yourself with local tattoo studios and artists in your area. Look for studios that align with your artistic style and values.
  2. Networking: Attend tattoo conventions, art shows, or industry events to connect with artists. Building relationships with tattoo artists can open doors to apprenticeship opportunities.
  3. Portfolio: Develop a strong portfolio showcasing your artwork. It should demonstrate your artistic abilities, creativity, and versatility. Be prepared to present your portfolio to potential mentors.
  4. Approach Tattoo Studios: Once you have identified suitable studios, contact them with a professional and polite inquiry about apprenticeship opportunities. Be prepared for rejections, as only some artists offer apprenticeships or may have availability at the time.

The Apprenticeship Process

If you are fortunate enough to secure a tattoo apprenticeship, here is what you can expect during the process:

  1. Observation: Initially, you will observe your mentor and other artists at work. This allows you to familiarise yourself with the studio environment, client interactions, and various tattooing techniques.
  2. Sterilisation and Hygiene: Tattooing requires strict adherence to health and safety regulations. You will learn how to maintain a clean and sterile working environment, including proper equipment sterilisation and using disposable materials.
  3. Basic Skills: As you progress, you will gradually acquire fundamental skills such as setting up the tattoo station, preparing the client’s skin, and handling the tattoo machine.
  4. Tattooing Techniques: Your mentor will teach different tattooing techniques, including line work, shading, and colour application. You may start by practising on artificial skin or pig skin before advancing to tattooing human clients.
  5. Client Interactions: Interacting with clients is essential to being a tattoo artist. Your mentor will guide you in consulting with clients, understanding their ideas and preferences, and providing aftercare instructions.
  6. Building a Portfolio: Throughout your apprenticeship, you will work on building your portfolio. This may include tattooing friends or willing clients under the supervision of your mentor.

Duration and Completion

The length of a tattoo apprenticeship varies depending on the studio and the progress of the individual apprentice. On average, apprenticeships can range from six months to two years. However, it’s important to note that tattooing is a lifelong learning process, and continuous improvement is crucial even after completing an apprenticeship.


Embarking on a tattoo apprenticeship is a significant commitment and a stepping stone towards a career in the tattoo industry. By finding the right mentor, dedicating yourself to learning, and honing your artistic skills, you can lay a solid foundation for a successful future as a professional tattoo artist. Remember, patience, perseverance, and a genuine passion for tattooing will pave the way for your artistic journey.

Updated on July 12, 2023

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