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Hey, first of all I would like to start off by saying I have been reading your Q&A for a while now, mainly to get an idea on concerns of are friendly walking canvases :) I think you are very respectful, consistent and fair in your answers. i have read some that were a lil to high on there horse. I'm not there is no right to be, but come on really over half the biz is public relations!!! and with that I say i wish my " instructor" or ex whatever was a lil more on the humble side!!!!! I must ask, I recently learned i have a almost natural skill with a tat gun, so I started the basic steps to become better so i could eventually start a lil business for this stay at home mom, but I seem to hit a snag. all the artist that remember were they started are way busy and have there apprentices and well the others are like the one i just was working with. can you recommend questions to ask that might be a give on there demeanor???? or a way around the whole thing. AND the big one im a lil ocd with tats, I asume by reading your answers you might be too. how do you work around (or with it) since you cant go back and erase and fix :). thank you

Aunty Sissy-

It can be rough getting starting in the tattoo biz, especially now with all the tv shows and such. But the trick is to persevere. And there are some folks in any industry with attitude, you can find good natured tattoo artists.

Working with a reputable, talented artist is invaluable for so many reasons that go beyond the basic info and education s/he can offer.  You can build on your natural talent: learning tricks to placement and execution, judging needle depth and angle, design skills, cross-contamination prevention and safe practices, shop operation, client relations, problem solving in all areas of tattooing, just to name a few things learned in a good apprenticeship. I apprenticed for almost a year and a half and then worked under other skilled and talented artists to continue my education.  I continue to learn from every artist I work with. Most apprenticeships are paid and this is a good thing- it keeps it professional.

Not all shops advertise for apprentices and you have to go in and chat with the artists in your local shops. Talk to the artist that does your tattoos or make conversation with artists whose work you like.  Many shops will take on an apprentice, and often it is just a matter of lucky timing. If you are committed to the art, you will find a way. It is good to spend time in tattoo shops and get to know artists, but be respectful of their time as you are in their work place. It might help to think of it this way, in looking for an apprenticeship, you are asking an artist to share and teach you from years of his or her own experience and hard work, what are you, as the student, offering in return?   

If you haven't already, start a sketch book with drawings and sketches and practice drawing as much as you can. Contact your local health department- it unlikely to license you to work out of your home, no matter how clean, ask what is required to work in a professional.

I know it is a pain to get an apprenticeship, and it is lots of grunt work and little glamour, but it is a generations old tradition that will give you the skills and knowledge to be come a good artist.  

Anytime you come up against attitude, don't take it personally. Just resolve to make sure you are always respectful in your own interactions.

Your question shows you are committed to doing as good work as possible, getting an apprenticeship is the best way to put you on the path to become the best artist you can.

Good Luck.
Sasha Merritt  


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Sasha Merritt - Professional Tattoo and Cosmetic Artist


Tattoo, Permanent cosmetics, Needling, Areola Repigmentation, Tattooing over Scars


I've been tattooing professionally for 10 years in shops in the US and England. I now own Dragonfly Ink in San Francisco, CA

Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals

Apprenticed at Black and Blue Tattoo Specialized training and certifications: Cross-contamination Prevention SofTaps Micropigmentation Areola Repigmentation Skin Needling University Art Courses

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