My standard advice to anyone wanting to learn to tattoo is “MOVE OUT OF OREGON AND GET A REAL APPRENTICESHIP”. I find the idea of “schools” laughable and repugnant.
You simply cannot teach “class” of more than one person hands-on, tattooing is not like other fields in this sense. Apprenticeships served one-on-one, by the person who plans to hire you afterward, are and were the tattoo industry standard.
Being here is the first time I have ever heard of a tattoo “school” being taken seriously by ANYONE as anything but a scam that teaches the student nothing.
Churning out people without being responsible for their future career is a terrible idea; I’d never before heard of ANYONE being taught without being hired by the teacher once they’d learned.
An artist who is very skilled and dedicated does not have time or interest in teaching twenty people. They may take the time to properly apprentice one or two during their career. In order for an artist like this to have an apprentice in Oregon, they must open a school in a manner that assumes they will want to teach multiple people; they must charge money, they must do a lot of things which deters them from bothering at all. The system in Oregon is set up so that the very best tattoo artists won’t teach, and those with less skill, will.
People who are proficient at filling out forms and such; not good tattooers. We end up with under-educated people with no place to work, turned loose to fend for themselves.
I feel like a lot of these younger artists were completely ripped off by the system, taken advantage of, their ambitions falsely turned against them. We could have so many highly-trained young artists here, instead we have a pile of people who COULD be great, but are flailing around trying to learn on their own. It’s a waste of time, and it’s bad for tattooing.
Again- you can NOT teach tattooing in a class. This requires apprenticeship and mentoring beyond that; should be done in the interest of furthering our art, not raking in cash from naive starry-eyed kids and then tossing them out in the street to beg for work (or worse, open their own shop because they can’t find a job…how are they going to learn more then? When they are working alone with only their limited knowledge to go on?)
A few people have done the best they can teaching under these rules, but a first-year OR tattoo artist is still, STILL, light-years behind almost any other first-year tattooer.
In tattooing, it’s not good form to talk down on whoever taught you, no matter how fucked-up things ended, or how poorly the teaching as done. I feel that the current rules in oregon were passed without any insight into the general standards of tattooing nationwide and have really made us look bad in comparison to other places. The school/apprentice thing being the biggest issue.
It’s not so much the number of new artists, because demand is still high and rising. it’s the quality and skill of those artists! YOU SHOULD NOT TEACH SOMEONE YOU DON’T PLAN TO HIRE. simply put!
The input given by a mentor during the first few years of tattooing is just as important as the original apprenticeship, and a formal apprenticeship gives in-depth, hands-on information that can’t be given in a class setting, or by someone who is teaching a herd.
For you guys who are wanting to learn tattooing: MOVE OUT OF OREGON. If you have other things in your life preventing that, be aware that YOU WILL NOT HAVE TIME FOR THOSE THINGS ANYWAY. The time during your apprenticeship, tattooing needs to be the first and only priority in your life.
So, move! Find someone who wants to INVEST in you, share their knowledge, and guide you. Don’t slap down cash on the barrelhead and expect to be a respected artist because you bought in.
I’m crossposting this rant from a forum where I posted it all; I have snipped out a few bits that were more technical, but the gist is the same. Learn from someone who wants to hire you, teach only someone you plan to hire.