How to Get a Tattoo Apprenticeship in Los Angeles
As an aspiring tattooist living in the City of Angels, it can be frustrating trying to figure out how to get started on a tattoo apprenticeship. It’s a city full of famous people and famous tattoo artists. Though there are hundreds of tattoo shops and tattoo artists in LA, there aren’t too many who are looking for a tattoo apprentice. And even fewer who want to spend time answering questions from aspiring tattoo artists about their business and career. And if you were a fan of LA Ink, you know how dramatic life with tattoo artists can be! So you may be left feeling like you’re on your own as you try to figure out how to land a tattoo apprenticeship in Los Angeles.
At this point, you might be ready to give up your California dream of a tattooing career surrounded by palm trees and sunshine because the obstacles seem too great. Maybe you don’t think you can afford to leave your steady job to start an apprenticeship as a receptionist in a tattoo shop. Or maybe you’ve heard “no” when you’ve visited a tattoo shop with your portfolio in hand and asked an artist to teach you. We’ve been there! Although it might seem like it’s nearly impossible to become a tattoo apprentice in LA, we’ve got good news for you: you can learn to tattoo in a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment. At Body Art & Soul Tattoos, we’re ready to mentor you through every step of the process. From learning how to create solid tattoo designs to getting your license and pulling your first line on skin, we’re there for you. Our Los Angeles tattoo studio is on Sunset Boulevard in Silverlake, so it is centrally located and easy to get to wherever you are in LA be it the Valley, Hollywood, East LA, Santa Monica, DTLA, Culver City, K town, or surrounding areas.We’ve trained over 150 tattooists, so we know what it’s like when you’re trying to figure out how to start your tattoo career. That’s why we’ve pulled together our top 5 pieces of advice for aspiring tattoo artists about what to do to get a tattoo apprenticeship in Los Angeles.
1. Don’t Tattoo on Your Own
The most important piece of advice for aspiring tattoo artists is to not tattoo on your own! Whatever you do, don’t buy a (hazardous) tattoo kit online and just start inking up yourself, your friends, or strangers you find on craigslist. Not only will you endanger them (bloodborne pathogens are bad news), but those kits aren’t even meant for human use! Even if you get ahold of professional equipment, the skills, techniques, and LA county license necessary to keep yourself safe and create decent tattoos can’t be learned from a video on YouTube. In-person, hands-on training with experienced professionals is required to learn to tattoo safely and well. Don’t endanger yourself or anyone else by tattooing without proper instruction or without a license.
2. Commit to Your Future and Take that First Step
Now that you know you need to learn to tattoo from a professional apprenticeship or training program, you’re probably getting overwhelmed. There are a lot of tattoo shops in LA (and a lot of famous ones too!), but how many are actually offering an apprenticeship? How many that say they will teach you actually just want someone to answer phones and clean for free? And as far as other options you might find online, which ones are genuine and which ones overpromise and under-deliver? Which ones have a real studio in LA and a job offer at the end or help you get a license and start your career?Regardless of which resource you’re looking at, getting answers to those questions can be scary. We’ve been there, and the best advice we’ve got for aspiring tattoo artists at this point is to go for it. The only way to be certain that a career as a professional tattoo artist with an LA county license is right for you is to walk into a tattoo studio near you, ask questions, and find out for yourself.
3. Great Art Can’t Be Rushed
The next most important piece of advice for aspiring LA tattoo artists is to avoid programs that offer two week or two month training programs. Beware of an “apprenticeship” that pretends the art of tattooing can be taught to you quickly. That’s simply not true. You might be able to quickly create a tattoo flash portfolio or research answers to the questions on a bloodborne pathogen exam, but you’ll still need practical experience and a studio to tattoo in to get a license. The nuances and techniques required to create professional quality tattoos take a long time to learn, so we always recommend looking for tattoo training in Los Angeles that isn’t obviously too good to be true. It should allow a reasonable amount of time to teach you everything you need to know to start a prosperous new career! And remember, as a new tattoo artist, you’ll never stop learning, so make sure you find yourself a studio with a positive environment where your fellow tattoo artists encourage you and aren’t going to try to steal your clients.
4. Decide What You Want from an Apprenticeship
For decades, there has been only one way to become a professional tattoo artist: visit a local tattoo parlor, show your portfolio, and ask to be their apprentice. This usually leads to a years-long process of sitting at the front desk, mopping the floors, and eventually learning the art of tattooing. This may work well for some people, but if you receive rejections or can’t afford to work the front desk while waiting to learn something, then we encourage you to check out our tattoo apprenticeship program. We don’t waste your time with busywork and have a curriculum that you can follow at your own pace to learn everything you need to become a successful tattoo artist including getting your LA county tattoo license. And the best part? We offer jobs to each artist who completes their training with us because we’re invested in your successful career! You can even start your tattoo training in a live virtual classroom online in the early phases of your LA tattoo apprenticeship. You’ll learn about creating impeccable flash designs and practice tattoo techniques on fake skin as you work one-on-one with a dedicated trainer. Once you pass the requirements of the online virtual training, you’ll be ready to complete your apprenticeship in our welcoming studio (it used to be a yoga studio, so it has an incredibly positive vibe!). Once you finish your apprenticeship with Body Art & Soul Tattoos, we’ll have a job offer at our LA studio waiting for you!
5. Never Give Up!
Whether you become an apprentice at another tattoo parlor in Los Angeles or learn the art of tattooing with us at our LA studio, our final piece of advice for aspiring tattoo artists is to never give up! Tattooing is a complex but rewarding art form, and persistence and patience are key to success. It takes time to ensure that our apprentices are well-prepared for the first time that they apply a needle to their client’s skin. Remember, developing new skills is a process, just because you hold a license doesn’t guarantee that you know how to use it well. From day one, a focus and commitment to your craft is required to make sure that you’re doing your best work and avoiding mistakes. So believe in yourself and stay strong, knowing that you’re bringing beautiful art into this world and helping your clients to express themselves!
Next Steps for Starting Your Tattoo Career in Los Angeles, CA
We hope this advice for aspiring tattoo artists helps you as you take the journey to becoming a professional tattoo artist! Getting started on your tattoo career in Los Angeles, CA need not be overwhelming if you follow our advice:
- Trying to create tattoos on your own is dangerous and discouraging, so don’t do it
- Believe in yourself and take a professional route
- Remember that learning a new skill takes time
- Find a tattoo apprenticeship in LA that works for you
- Stay focused and dedicated to the craft
While this career isn’t easy, it’s tremendously rewarding and we love to help aspiring tattooists achieve their dreams! If you have any questions about your future as a tattoo artist, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Start a chat to find out more.