There was a time not long ago when the only way anyone gained entrance into the tattoo or body piercing industry was through apprenticeship. Such an apprenticeship would involve being chosen, and then accepted into a sacred bond with your mentor, who shouldered the responsibility of teaching you the subtleties of proper technique and shop protocol, and it was this mentor that would watch over you so that you would not fall. This was the way it has always been done, since the practices of body art were first introduced into modern times.
But with today’s economy still sputtering and many small shops closing or barely hanging on, there are fewer apprenticeships available for budding body artists. People that are part of the tsunami of unemployed workers are scrambling to find ways to pay their bills, with many realizing a good living can be made answering the growing demand for tattooists and piercers. Whether or not you agree with it, the fact is, more and more people are teaching themselves how to tattoo and have begun body piercing themselves, their friends and family members without being apprenticed. These individuals are answering a call to service in the only way they know how and have invested both their time and their money into gathering the essentials needed to begin learning their craft. Established tattoo artists call these self-taught tattooists scratchers and deny them equipment, supplies and knowledge in a vain attempt to thwart them. The truth is, whether we like it or not, these aspiring body artists are everywhere, and they are going to continue to follow their dreams, and make do with what they have available to them. We should not curse them or ridicule them, but see them as our brothers and sisters, for we share the same dream.