Point me in a direction | General Discussion | Forum
November 28, 2013
I started tattooing several years ago, going through an apprenticeship and got screwed really bad. Paid a lot of money and didn't get much teaching. So I stopped and let my license go. But keeping an up side I want to try again but this time I want to be a body piercer. Can someone point me in a direction to helping become one? I can't apprentice locally because I don't trust any of them around here. Any help with this path in my life would be grateful.
November 27, 2013
February 3, 2008
Russ Foxx, who is on the CoBM Board of Advisors, wrote this article a few years ago. I think it has some great advice for an aspiring professional artist:
With the ever-growing popularity and acceptance of body art in all of its forms, today we're seeing more and more individuals grasping for a chance to get into the piercing & tattooing industry. This industry has been receiving an ever-growing amount of media attention as of late, with reality television shows featuring various tattooing studios glamorizing the creative expression their art entails. We're finding now that visible body art is not only found on rock stars and our favourite bands, but even mainstream celebrities and movie stars are proudly sporting their tattoos and piercings before the public eye. These days we're closer than ever to everyone and their mother having a tattoo or a piercing without criticism. Even white collar jobs are becoming more open to body art. Really, what's not to love about this industry? It's got loads of sex appeal, and tattoo artists are becoming celebrities on TV.
What many people don't realize is that the majority of artists in the industry live financially comfortable at best. Most do it for the love of the art, not to get rich. It seems that many people don't take this into consideration when attempting to get their foot in the door. This should be considered by all future-body-artists-to-be. It should also be realized that if the right approach isn't taken when entering the industry, a new artist can be a very detrimental force on the industry as a whole. One can take the right path and set a good example or one can take the wrong path and lead many more behind them.
Some spend countless hours hanging around in studios, soaking up as much information as they possibly can and wait patiently for someone to throw them a bone. Some score counter jobs for no pay. Some push retail products in-shop to bring in money. Some seek out artists or studios that will take cash for "training", to give them a quick start in the industry and a piece of paper to put on the wall. Some travel and put out cash to take seminars with one of an assortment of larger organizations to again, give them a piece of paper to put on the wall. Some even order piercing and/or tattoo kits from tattoo magazines and hack away at their friends at home.
There are many reasons why these people are looking the wrong direction for their entry into tattooing or piercing fields. I'm going to take this opportunity to first explain how this industry has changed in the last decade or so and how an aspiring artist can follow the optimal path forward if they have the drive to do so.
Let me touch base on a few aspects of the industry that need to be recognized. In the last 10-15 years this industry has become over-saturated with shops opening with minimal standards, minimal experience and minimal ethics in practice. Being the art-oriented industry that this is, governments don't tend to carry much involvement in it's regulations or educating new artists. There's also a lack of knowledge in the general public about the industry, which makes it difficult for people to know where to go and where not to go. When you find a studio that will offer tattoos for $20 per hour and piercings with jewelry included for the same price, there is more than likely to be corners cut in quality and safety. Lastly, the federal and provincial health authorities' minimal standards and guidelines allow studios to operate under conditions that were acceptable 20 years ago. These points show that serious caution should be taken when looking for a studio to work in OR an artist to do your work.
Many less reputable shops that use cheap equipment and cut corners in order to keep prices extremely low will come and go, but should always be watched. These shops hurt the industry in a big way by supporting sweat shops and outsourcing low quality studio supplies. Not to mention doing inexperienced and sometimes even dangerous work. This also draws uneducated clients away from reputable shops with cheap prices and then leaves a terrible impression of how the industry works. A solid artist with strong ethics will always strive to have you leave their studio educated enough to protect yourself from unethical and dangerous artists.
So, let’s get back to brass tax, shall we? “What’s the best way to get into this industry”, you ask? First off, go take your first-aid and CPR training at a level 2. You’ll be ahead of a lot of already employed artists out there in that regard. Next, take some infectious diseases and bloodborne pathogens training. This can be done through a hospital or health department. Next, show some initiative and attend a seminar with the Association of Professional Piercers (www.safepiercing.org) or the Alliance of Professional Tattooists (www.safe-tattoos.com). These organizations have been put in place to stay up-to-date on all aspects of the industry from everything involving the arts themselves right up to anthropology and legislature. Certification in these seminars is generally held in a much higher regard than a certificate from some random artist who gave you their own “seal of approval” after a week long training session. After you have accomplished this, you will be well equipped with knowledge in the health and safety aspects as well as much of the back end aspects of the industry. If you also come equipped with good bedside manner and personality, you'll now be ready to approach reputable studios about possible apprenticeship programs.
This is the point where the industry being over-saturated comes into play. Most studios likely won't want to hire more artists unless it will be lucrative for them from a business standpoint. If a shop is over-staffed, it's unlikely that they will want to keep hiring artists unless they are franchising and opening more locations. If a reputable studio needs help and is willing to train a fresh and impressionable artist, that will be the best opportunity to learn the most from a team that wants an addition to their family. In that situation you will learn the most possible from the artists that you are working under and beside. With all of your pre-industry steps covered, why wouldn't they want you?
Still interested in becoming a professional tattooing or piercing artist? Soak up the safety aspects first. Attend seminars and get an understanding of what you are getting into before you dive head first. Travel and network with artists. Do your research. Keep tabs on all of your potential studio possibilities to know when you may have an opportunity to seize. Remember that safety is paramount and must always come before aesthetics.
Church of Body Modification, President
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