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Searching for a tattooing apprenticeship in London- Building portfolio!
Topic Rating: +3 (3 votes) 
April 18, 2013
4:38 pm
Body and Mind
London, UK
New Forum Member
Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
October 19, 2011

Obviously it’s going to be as good or better than the professional portfolio I assembled to get into art school, but what do tattoo artists tend to look for in portfolios?

This is what my Beta Portfolio has in it:

-Examples of inks, watecolours, and acrylic finished works

-Examples of pen and pencil sketches

-A few collages with final inks and colouring

-Select pages from my current sketchbook, unfinished but in colour and black and white, mostly pencils

-Photos of work too big to include in an A4/A3 portfolio, including paintings, charcoals, inks, watercolours, etc.

-Old School tattoo sketches, font practice, portraits

Is there anything specific that is going to be looked for in my work? Should I write up a resume type sheet to leave at each shop I visit or what?

I’ve done years of research on tattooing and I’ve always wanted to do it, I just couldn’t pursue an apprenticeship until now due to university- But as that seems to be falling through, I want to go for my dream. I always had a feeling it was the career/lifestyle for me, but when I got my first tattoo at 18 I knew 100% for sure this was what I wanted to do. The only reason why I’m not covered in tattoos already is because of financial limitations!

I’ve researched and researched for years about tattooing and apprenticeships,and I figure my money is much better spent on that than on illustration/art school because I’m so unsatisfied with university and they way they teach and how low the general quality of the work there is that I might as well just do what I’ve always wanted to do, and fuck all that other bullshit.

As I am 20 years old and studying abroad because it is cheaper than attending a university back home, my parents are supportive of my decision to do what I need to do as an artist, including working towards becoming a tattoo artist. I'm lucky that way! So there are no worries about how my family will react to my career choice, as they've known for years. My mom even got her first tattoo with me on my 18th! :) So they're okay with it.

With tattooing, all the hard work and money and time and love invested into learning and producing art will be worth it and be far more rewarding than anything I’ve been doing up until now. I feel like university is a waste for me, and I belong in a shop somewhere where my art can be rewarding for me and whoever my clients may be.

Volunteering for the London Tattoo Convention starts May 1st, so I have to wait until then to sign up for that, and even then the convention is in September, but I plan to hit that up if by then I haven’t sorted anything out.

Any help or guidance would be appreciated greatly! :) I can provide pictures of my work/portfolio as soon as I have it assembled in a way I think is professionally presentable so it will be fit for critique. :)

April 20, 2013
3:53 am
Forum Posts: 886
Member Since:
January 7, 2011

Hi Body and Mind, welcome to the forum!

It sounds like you have a good portfolio and the right attitude. I would suggest a covering letter or CV to back that up, maybe something you could leave with shops. It'd be worth physically going and speaking with them though. Show them who you are, your good attitude and talent. Don't just expect them to read whatever you give them and want to hire you.

Having said that many apprenticeships seem to come from shops and artists that you already have a relationship with. Find a shop you like and trust, maybe get work there if you can afford it, and discuss it with them. Ask for advice, or if they know someone who may be willing.
Conventions might also be a good chance to get to know people.

Other things which might help would be qualifications in first aid or infection control. if nothing else it demonstrates commitment.

Other than that, patience may be needed. An apprenticeship asks an artist to give their time to train you for free, in order that you may become competition for them. Why will it be worth that cost to them to apprentice YOU. The competition is fierce, and every artist will have experiences of having their time wasted, or being hassled by people who want to apprentice.

I would caution about stopping your studies just yet. Maybe when you get the right opportunity, but until then don't let the hard work you have already put it go to waste. If you stop and things don't pan out you may regret it. For now you can do both, so why not?

Best of luck!

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." - Nietzsche
April 23, 2013
7:18 am
South Korea
Forum Posts: 225
Member Since:
February 27, 2012

Greatest of luck, and the advice Oakbear gave is the best. Spend time in shops, even if you're not getting work done. Find people you like being around, because you will be spending a hell of a lot of time with them. Show them your commitment in being a part of the team. Don't just latch onto one person. Or, try to at least be friendly with everyone.

Also, don't be surprised if you're the "shop bitch" for a while.

April 23, 2013
8:06 am
Body and Mind
London, UK
New Forum Member
Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
October 19, 2011

Thank you guys so much! :) All great things to keep in mind. Especially the first aid/etc. qualifications- I'll look into that and see if there are any good classes in my area!

I'm already coming to the end of my year of study, preparing to transfer to another school closer to me in London, and a portfolio for an illustration degree and a portfolio for flash etc. can overlap, which works out pretty well! So that's alright. :)

And yeah, I've been looking up some ~apprenticeship stories~ to prepare myself for the 'shop bitch' part, lol! But I'm passionate and patient, so I'll be okay. :)

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