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Self Taught?

Hey Everyone im coming to this forum for advice on learning how to tattoo yourself (i know how crazy that sounds). its just that i am having no luck finding an legitimate apprenticeship.. ive talked to all the shops in my area and surrounding are with some good advice but not very helpful advice. there's not many around in a 60 miles radius of where i live, and i would even try to move if i could find one most of the artists told me to get tattooed and start to know the artist you are wishing to learn the trade from.. so i did that just to learn that they were to busy although helpful in advice.. others where so high on there pedestal i was ignored or asked how much money was in my wallet before they even looked at my art portfolio pretty much.. ive gave up alot to try to find an apprenticeship and haven't had any luck in return other than compliments and criticism on my artwork, ive even went as far to contact the more respected artists in the industry to tell me if they seen anything in my work or for constructive criticism so i could build stronger techniques etc.. But to get back on subject after a year and a half of looking ive finally made some machines (legitimate machines) and started on pigs skin.. ive researched what feels to be hundreds of hours over the past few months to try to teach my self how to correctly apply a tattoo.. i feel like its really just another art medium and that i know i would enjoy doing it.. i just want to do it the right way and not be labeled as a (scratcher) even if i was doing good work.. well if anyone reads this thanks for your time i appreciate it.. i just really need some good advice as what to do


Replies:

RE:Self Taught?

first of all, the use and misuse of the word "scratcher" will never be clearly defined, but there is a new word showing up called "choicer" that i LOL at but it's actually appropriate.
IMO a scratcher is someone who is looking for an easy job, an easily trapplies deable product, and in this case is tattoos.
With no folio or a folio that lacks progress and improvement, as well as short cuts in the art, tattoo application, and most importantly aseptic technique.
Doing a good tattoo may be safer in a shop enviroment simply because good technique becomes habit-forming. Bad choices and technique may be habit-forming too outside of the shop enviroment. And it takes exponetioally more focus, work, and supplies to do good tattoos safely outside that controlled zone. But it can be done and does happen more often than inside a shop these days.
If i ever use the term scratcher, i'm referring to a dirty druggie trading perpetually bad tattoos, or a street shop legal tattooer who thinks they have all thier shit together but they produce nothing special for years.
It can go both ways, and simply paying rent and fees for certifications can;t make you a good artists, or a safe one.

Self taught: Well i am a self taught artist. Let me explain the history of this first. I've been an artist all my life, many different art forms. Thousands spend on clays and mold making, paints, airbrushes, clear coats. Junkyard hunting, resperators, activated charcoal vents. I've painted canvas, people, cars, furniture, walls, clothing, and movie makeup.
My night job was nursing and surgical assistant for ten years in the middle of all this. So i know more than i care to about the anatomy and disease process.
It wasnt till i quit nursing that i felt the RESPONIBILLITY of tattooing was worth it.
Read that last sentence again.
Because the whole time i was cabable of being a tattoo artist, but chose not to.

Onto the actual learning. toss the pig skin in the trash. Get a bloodborne pathanogen certificate. That is at least a start. Look up medical procedures, and unless you have an autoclave, you'll been an entirely disposable setup, so be prepared to drop money on plastic tubes. And cavicide is for friend. Bad everything, my set up takes almost 30 min sometimes more. Bag it all.
Use saniderm or tatuderm for after care. Pick a small design and do a black and grey just above your knee, or on an ankle.
Next tattoo you do is on someone else, someone you trust.
You cannot move foward till you are tattooing living skin, there IS NO SUBSTITUTE.
and you will be called a scratcher by some, even if it's only for a year or two.
Let me tell you a seacret: Of the millions of tattoo artists out there, 20 or so truly have the title "world famous" nearly all of them are self taught on the underground.
Results.
Results is how you shall be judged in all things.
So...reading and drawing and painting and certifying, and doing more research ad nausea is the right thing to do, and i still do it ad nausea today. and will continue till im dead.
But there is a point that you;ll need to be jumping in with no safetly net, i'm sorry this is the way tattoos work, and don't for one seccond think it's different under a mentor.
Go buy the latest addition of "reinventing the tattoo"
I was luck and got an autograghed copy, it is my bible, and i read through it once a month. No matter your art or machine handling style, that book has somehting for you.
Watch mikes videos.
watch niko hurtados videos
be carefull of what you see on youtube.
paint draw sculpt study.
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RE:Self Taught?

Thanks for the info it was really helpful ive been thinking about getting guys book and dvd.. i liked that it focuses out on other mediums other than just tattooing. and i have all my certifications as BBP and CPR.. and ive tried to stay 100% disposable as possible other than using ink shots yet. right now im just trying to focus on the mechanics and science behind machines as well as some theory in relating subjects.. but i think i will get "reinventing the tattoo" i have heard alot of positive things about it thanks
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RE:Self Taught?

I disagree about the pig skin. I think it's an excellent analog for human skin. Actually, its better for learning. Its WAY harder to tattoo it. Every aspect is harder: shaving, stretching, penetration.

I find stretching is the single most difficult thing to master for early tattooers. Practicing on pig skin forces you to stretch for miles.

The biggest downside, and the second hardest thing to master, is pig skin does not teach you proper depth. That just come from experience, but there are fundamentals you can learn from tattooing and piece of cut up oinker.

I've never trained an apprentice, I feel a need a few more years, but when I finally get around to it, He/she'll be tattooing on pig hide for several months before they touch a human being.
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RE:Self Taught?

To echo 'toreodor,'

I feel your pain, and am somewhat of a self taught man myself. I did THREE apprenticeships. Each guy I worked with either moved towns, closed shop, or something in between. It was frustrating to say the least. However, I absorbed EVERYTHING for those two years of work, while I was still in art school and working a part time job to keep funds up. Eventually, I started tattooing on the side and had a miniature shop set-up inside of my friends barber shop. It was a small room, formerly a salon. Was maybe 9'x9'. It was a great experience for me there, doing a lot of small tattoos, 3 or 4 per day. A lot of practice! After 6 months of establishing myself, I officially opened for business as a one artist "shop" at the same location. Even had a fellow artist friend I knew (established artist of 10+ yrs) come inspect it, and all was cleared. Did that for a year or so, then joined the military (something I had planned for a long time, just never did) and am still tattooing today, although not as often. My plan is to tattoo after I get out, at least part time while I work myself back up to doing strong, solid, consistent pieces.

As a self taught type guy, it can be done. Sounds like you're on the right track. Study study study!!! Go to conventions, talk to guys you get tattooed by, travel if you can. I've been to seminars galore, bought books on all styles, studied so much. Hell, even watching Ink Master and how they critique work, what it should/should not look like, is a good bit of help. Just be in the mindset that each tattoo has to be better than your last, and you'll be fine. If I can do it, you can too. If you have Facebook, my page is called "Harp Art" and I'm Kyle. Feel free to fwd any questons and help you might need.

Always to happy to help out someone in my same shoes, and wants to learn!
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RE:Self Taught?

the question of 'how much money do you have in your pocket' is a legit question. maybe the delivery was not taken well, but it definitely is legit.

an apprenticeship will most likely not be a paying job and since you are in effect training for a career, paying your teacher is along the lines of tuition in school. unless you are a great artist showing potential, the process of teaching you will be like taking a second job for the mentor.

the other thing is your mentor will want you to be able to focus on your training. if you have money invested, you will be more likely to see it through. if you have money you will most likely not be worrying about how you are going to eat while attending this non-paying apprenticeship.

even the poster above quit his nursing job to focus on tattooing [or thats how it reads, sorry if i misunderstood]. money is certainly a major factor in anything in life, even tattooing.
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RE:Self Taught?

yes it is, and i left nursing before i funded my tattooing with much less money. But that's my point its that hard work and sacrifice pays.
I think you all are correct, and he needs to see what he can do with his resorces. not all situations will be the same.
in my area there we'rnt any mentors worth learning from but they all had three apprentices paying 7k. it was obvious they were replacing income from tattooing with apprenticeships.

I would have paid hapily if there was a really good tattoo artist.
I mentor not and im very picky, but i think you have to be ready to pass the torch, not just look for a person to charge money from.
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RE:Self Taught?

I am also self taught (had a few dumbasses take my money and burn me without really teaching me shit) the biggest down side to trying to do this on your own is lack of inspiration. Seriously man u can only go so far just tattooing by yourself without more skilled tattooers critiquing your work and pushing u in the right direction. and as stated earlier u will pick up so many bad habits without even knowing it also. I tattooed for years by myself and stuck to simple solid fill type designs, had many other jobs including serving as a us army infantryman but just like dude said before it wasn't until i took on tattooing full time and dedicated my life to it that i started to get better and push myself every tattoo i did no matter how simple. And whoever said it earlier was correct there are scratchers in shops as well as in kitchens bro. Just know this isn't just a hobby it will take over your life and if you aren't willing to give it your all then do your future clients a favor and stop now. If you are willing to do what it takes know it will be a long hard road that will have u wanting to pull your hair out and the starting point is a blood borne pathogens/first aid/ cpr cert because first and foremost your health and your clients health are the most important thing to worry about starting out. www.facebook.com/TattoosByCJ if you want to check my work out.
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RE:Self Taught?

I am also self taught (had a few dumbasses take my money and burn me without really teaching me shit) the biggest down side to trying to do this on your own is lack of inspiration. Seriously man u can only go so far just tattooing by yourself without more skilled tattooers critiquing your work and pushing u in the right direction. and as stated earlier u will pick up so many bad habits without even knowing it also. I tattooed for years by myself and stuck to simple solid fill type designs, had many other jobs including serving as a us army infantryman but just like dude said before it wasn't until i took on tattooing full time and dedicated my life to it that i started to get better and push myself every tattoo i did no matter how simple. And whoever said it earlier was correct there are scratchers in shops as well as in kitchens bro. Just know this isn't just a hobby it will take over your life and if you aren't willing to give it your all then do your future clients a favor and stop now. If you are willing to do what it takes know it will be a long hard road that will have u wanting to pull your hair out and the starting point is a blood borne pathogens/first aid/ cpr cert because first and foremost your health and your clients health are the most important thing to worry about starting out. www.facebook.com/TattoosByCJ if you want to check my work out.
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