Being a body artist is like being part of a brotherhood. What’s the ‘brotherhood’ you ask? It’s like what the cops have but without the pension, or the respect they get. Mainly, one of the unwritten rules of being a body artist (especially a tattoo artist) is that you never, ever help someone become an artist unless you can exploit them yourself. What I mean when I say ‘exploit’ is just that. The old way of learning how to tat or pierce was that you would go under the wing (more like armpit if you ask me) of a shop artist who would teach you how to do it. What you mostly learned was how to clean up, take out trash, dispose of bloody needles and towels, etc. etc. If you were lucky, after about 6 months of this slave labor (without pay of course) you would get to watch your mentor tattoo (with you cleaning up afterward, of course). Maybe after a year or two you would actually learn some basic stuff and be able to do a tattoo or body piercing yourself, or be allowed to perform body art on a paying customer (with you not being paid, of course). This would go on until one of two things happens; you get fed up working a full time job without pay and quit, or you are offered a job somewhere with pay.
The problem with this system is that the economy has kicked the ass of the tattoo shops so hard (even the ones that have been around for years are hurting) that many shops have actually gone to charging (up to $5000.00 in most cases) people for the privilege of being a shop apprentice! Wait a minute, you’re going to charge ‘me’ so I can hang out with a bunch of guys who are going to be having me taking out the trash, cleaning toilets and making donut runs? Are you kidding me? What moron is going to pay someone to empty their trash, clean up their shop and be exploited and used like a mindless idiot for a year or two before he ever gets to see a tattoo gun or body piercing needle? You would be better off with that 5000.00 opening your own tattoo shop and bringing in an experienced tattoo artist to work for you, that way, you would get your apprenticeship and own your own business to boot! Then if you want, you can bring in apprentices to empty your trash and work for free while you get your private tattoo lessons from your employee tat artist. That sure beats being an ‘apprentice’ the old-school way, I think. I just wish I had come up with this idea BEFORE I did my old-school apprenticeship!
That’s all I got for now…