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How to Get a Tatttoo Apprenticeship

Learn how to get a tattoo apprenticeship from acclaimed tattoo artist James Vaughn in this Howcast video.


How to get an apprenticeship? Be persistent. The biggest thing is if you really, really want to learn how to tattoo, don't go out and buy crap off of eBay and then just start jacking up your friends.

I say be very persistent. When you look for a shop that you want to be apprenticed under, you need to look at who is the master there. Who is Mr. Miyagi? Who is the one that's going to give you the tools that's going to make you successful with what you want, which is to be a tattooer, which is a very, very coveted thing.

Look at who is the most reputable. Look in your area to see who is going to be the one that's going to say, "Hey, I see something in you, and I want to teach you how to tattoo." You also have to be able to get in. I would say volunteer. Just volunteer, start hanging out. Don't be annoying. Just be like, "I'll scrub tubes. I'll sweep the floor. I'll take the trash out."

Don't be all uppity and excited. Don't piss him off, because you're not going to get in. When you're in that environment, and you finally get your foot in the door, and start taking the trash out, start scrubbing tubes. Maybe you can hang out with artists that are there, and see how they interact with their boss. See how they actually work with their boss. See how things work out.

Maybe even start drawing. The main thing is you're going to have start showing that guy, that Mr. Miyagi your paintings. Start doing watercolor. I tattoo the same way that I watercolor. I tell up and comers that keep watercolor, watercolor, watercolor, watercolor. Do flash sheets. Do design sheets and take them into that guy, and say, "Hey, I really want to learn how to tattoo. I really want this."

Keep bringing them in. Keep doing better. Keep asking him to critique your stuff. Keep saying, "Tell me how to be better." That is what's going to help you. That is going to show him that you really want something. When you really want it and you really live it.

I worked two jobs in apprenticed at least eight to ten hours a day. I just had to pay my dues. I grew up in this business in a very, very old school apprenticeship. It was a biker apprenticeship, and it made me who I am as an artist. I'm very determined, anything I do to succeed.

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