Apprenticeships


Fast track your progress with the world's premier training program the Artist Accelerator


Big Pete

Premium
Joined
7 Sep 2021
Messages
220
Location
Australia
First Name
Peter
Gender
Male
Just a question or 2 that has been bugging me for years.
Why is the Tattoo industry the only industry that I am aware of where apprentice's learn their trade for no pay, and in some cases have to actually pay to learn?
When I was an apprentice in my trade, I was paid a wage and was supported by an Apprentice and Training company who either paid for or subsidised my tools that I needed for my trade, I have heard of some Tattoo mentors buying their apprentice a tattoo machine to start with, but I don't know if this is common.
I have read on many Tattoo forums that I have been on before that to be accepted as a tattooist "you have to pay your dues" whatever the fuck that means. I'm thinking it's because the old school tattooist's did it tough, they expect everyone to do the same.
So, my question is....Why don't apprentice's get paid like in any other industry? Do they actually receive a Certificate after completing their apprenticeship stating that fact? And finally, if it is classed as an apprenticeship, why isn't the time frame for completing said apprenticeship uniform over the industry? I have seen some people only being an apprentice for 6 months, others may be 3 years or longer.
 

whippet

Premium Plus
Joined
16 Jun 2016
Messages
581
Location
UK
First Name
Solo
Historically, when a town maybe had one tattoo shop, or fewer, it was considered a ‘privilege’ to be trained as a tattooer. Back then there were no books, Youtube, seminars etc, in fact it was a pretty closed and hostile community.

The continued appeal of the job has meant that the industry has been able to perpetuate this potentially exploitative practice, although (in defence of the tattoo industry), its easy for a skilled newly trained apprentice to ditch their original shop. Of course this happens in other industries, just look at the amount of trained medical staff that leave the country of training for better pay else where.

And this is perhaps where the answer lies…whether it’s an apprenticeship or an education. Look how many people happily pay for a college or university education without complaint, free to deploy their new skills for enhanced salaries once finished. If we consider a tattoo apprenticeship has an education, the practice seems reasonable. If an apprenticeship, we can see how this differs from other paid apprenticeship models.

My bigger issue is that there is no standardisation of tattoo apprenticeships, meaning that for some it will be an immensely valuable and growing experience that will serve the recipient for life, while for others it is pure exploitation. The huge surge in tattooing has also led to barely qualified tattooers apprenticing people when its questionable if they know the craft sufficiently themselves….and how many tattooers do you know that are experienced/competent/qualified educators? While teaching is often maligned, it’s a skill set in itself and a competent teacher will teach better than a solely skilled practitioner.

Things are changing in Wales right now, where they are proposing much tighter registration regulations, including a test (I don’t know the specific nature of the test). This type of thinking ‘could’ lead to a more rigorous and accountable apprenticeship model.

That all said….we would do well to remember that tattooing grew out of rule-less outsider culture, so some may say that those that have the drive and ability to survive will, those that don’t wither on the vine and don’t get the gig.
 

zombie bob

Basic
Joined
16 Dec 2022
Messages
2
Location
Tn
First Name
Bob
Gender
Male
Just a question or 2 that has been bugging me for years.
Why is the Tattoo industry the only industry that I am aware of where apprentice's learn their trade for no pay, and in some cases have to actually pay to learn?
When I was an apprentice in my trade, I was paid a wage and was supported by an Apprentice and Training company who either paid for or subsidised my tools that I needed for my trade, I have heard of some Tattoo mentors buying their apprentice a tattoo machine to start with, but I don't know if this is common.
I have read on many Tattoo forums that I have been on before that to be accepted as a tattooist "you have to pay your dues" whatever the fuck that means. I'm thinking it's because the old school tattooist's did it tough, they expect everyone to do the same.
So, my question is....Why don't apprentice's get paid like in any other industry? Do they actually receive a Certificate after completing their apprenticeship stating that fact? And finally, if it is classed as an apprenticeship, why isn't the time frame for completing said apprenticeship uniform over the industry? I have seen some people only being an apprentice for 6 months, others may be 3 years or longer.
There's a lot of reasons as to why apprentices don't get paid during the apprenticeship one if you walk into a shop and they tell you here is a tattoo for $100 do you want the guy that's been tattooing for 30 years to do it or the guy that just picked up a machine 6 weeks ago? This is what I've seen from apprentices in shops that I've worked at when they start making money they rush they get addicted to the rockstar money , then people wind up with really bad tattoos. And as for pain for an apprenticeship I've seen it numerous times where people did not charge for the apprenticeship they will stick with it for 6 months then they think they've learned enough and then they go trying to tattoo out of their house. That's when people get infections not to mention bad tattoos. When I got my apprenticeship I was told if I do it for free you're going to leave in 6 months if you pay five grand you're going to stick it out to the end. Length of apprenticeships will vary from state to state. But you have to remember this isn't a medical degree everybody has different levels of skill when it comes to art some people can pick it up in 6 months some people take six years.
And I do absolutely agree there should be a standard, where I live we had one board of health representative retire when the new one came on that a guy slid through the cracks and starting signing off on people left and right now we've got a bunch of shops that don't know what they're doing and people are getting nasty infections hopefully nobody gets hepatitis or HIV.
And as for buying the equipment for The apprentice in my shop we let them use ours until they figure out what kind of machine works best for them .
 

DKJ

Premium
Joined
23 Oct 2017
Messages
1,211
Media
3
Location
France
First Name
Mathieu
Gender
Male
thetattooyoyo
Interesting topic!

Here in France, tattoing is not recognized as a job, meaning you are viewed by the state as an solo entrepreneur/freelancer, or a boss with employees.
But you can't tattoo if you haven't been trained and certified after a 3 days hygiene course, and also if you don't have a dedicated place with a lot of hygiene rules which rely to strict laws.

So we have some scratchers here, who are mostly peeps who are tattoing friends for free (and fun?) in private parties and private momentd. They don't make money out of it. If you get caught, you can face really big money problems, jail time being possible if you injured someone.

And then there are people like me who want to open a studio and tattoo as much as they can into the hygiene rules, and who passed the hygiene course. We make little money trying to get more visible and get an apprenticeship or rent a few hours in a studio to begin our tattooing career.

In France, apprentices are paid or not, used for the bad studio works or not, all depends of the owners.
Nowadays we see a lot of youngsters, trained for a 6 months up to a year, before they become employees or associates, but it definitly ends up in a 'family' style cooperation.
They don't exist in the eyes of the state, usually using a freelancer status.
Do know that everything is cash or Paypal, so there's a lot of money which is never going to the state.

The respect for the job is here and the competition is less hostile between studios with all the different styles: clients can nnow choose their tattoer of choice.

It evolved and it's a less raw industry, more and more clean and technically rising. We still have bad artists and technicians, lol!

Peace,

DKJ
 
Last edited:
Joined
10 Jan 2023
Messages
1
Location
Denver, Colorado
First Name
Ben
Gender
Male
Just a question or 2 that has been bugging me for years.
Why is the Tattoo industry the only industry that I am aware of where apprentice's learn their trade for no pay, and in some cases have to actually pay to learn?
When I was an apprentice in my trade, I was paid a wage and was supported by an Apprentice and Training company who either paid for or subsidised my tools that I needed for my trade, I have heard of some Tattoo mentors buying their apprentice a tattoo machine to start with, but I don't know if this is common.
I have read on many Tattoo forums that I have been on before that to be accepted as a tattooist "you have to pay your dues" whatever the fuck that means. I'm thinking it's because the old school tattooist's did it tough, they expect everyone to do the same.
So, my question is....Why don't apprentice's get paid like in any other industry? Do they actually receive a Certificate after completing their apprenticeship stating that fact? And finally, if it is classed as an apprenticeship, why isn't the time frame for completing said apprenticeship uniform over the industry? I have seen some people only being an apprentice for 6 months, others may be 3 years or longer.
Why is it that somebody feels like they should get paid to be given the knowledge to feed themselves
 

whippet

Premium Plus
Joined
16 Jun 2016
Messages
581
Location
UK
First Name
Solo
Why is it that somebody feels like they should get paid to be given the knowledge to feed themselves
The answer depends on the realistic expectations of the person providing the knowledge, and that determines whether or not comparisons between (let’s say) trade apprenticeships and tattoo apprenticeships. For example, a plumber might take on an apprentice, teach them the trade and pay a nominal salary, BUT expect the newly trained plumber to contribute to the ongoing business. Within the process, there is a point at which the apprentice becomes useful enough to warrant some payment, no matter how small.

We can draw parallels between this and tattooing and tattooing apprentices. If from day 1 the apprentice is being productive in the shop, not tattooing of course, but cleaning, tidying, stencil making, set up/strip down etc, in addition to learning the ‘trade’, why not pay something?

The bigger question might be whether or not the owner feels an apprentice will stick around long enough to earn the business the money back, before moving on. Paying an apprentice should not be charity, nor should it be exploitative, but there are arguments for both points and with the variability of how individual studios perceive and provide apprenticeships, it probably needs case-by-case responses until there is standardisation.

The student model I mentioned earlier, where a fee is paid for the knowledge from day 1, exists without ANY expectation that the student will offer anything in terms of productivity and/or profit to the education provider…that’s black and white and easy to appreciate.
 

DKJ

Premium
Joined
23 Oct 2017
Messages
1,211
Media
3
Location
France
First Name
Mathieu
Gender
Male
thetattooyoyo
Why is it that somebody feels like they should get paid to be given the knowledge to feed themselves
To me, tattooers are not teachers, and that's why they're not 'legally' legitimate to be paid by their apprentices. Talking about France here, dunno about other countries.

So, it doesn't mean they can't teach but they're not entitled to follow a particular course in the training they're meant to give to their apprentices, there could lay a lot of abuse and we know it has been the case in many occasions.

Today, apprenticeship is a matter of mutual trust.

Peace,

DKJ
 

Adam805

Basic
Joined
9 Nov 2022
Messages
7
Location
San Luis Obispo
First Name
Adam
Gender
Male
Historically, when a town maybe had one tattoo shop, or fewer, it was considered a ‘privilege’ to be trained as a tattooer. Back then there were no books, Youtube, seminars etc, in fact it was a pretty closed and hostile community.

The continued appeal of the job has meant that the industry has been able to perpetuate this potentially exploitative practice, although (in defence of the tattoo industry), its easy for a skilled newly trained apprentice to ditch their original shop. Of course this happens in other industries, just look at the amount of trained medical staff that leave the country of training for better pay else where.

And this is perhaps where the answer lies…whether it’s an apprenticeship or an education. Look how many people happily pay for a college or university education without complaint, free to deploy their new skills for enhanced salaries once finished. If we consider a tattoo apprenticeship has an education, the practice seems reasonable. If an apprenticeship, we can see how this differs from other paid apprenticeship models.

My bigger issue is that there is no standardisation of tattoo apprenticeships, meaning that for some it will be an immensely valuable and growing experience that will serve the recipient for life, while for others it is pure exploitation. The huge surge in tattooing has also led to barely qualified tattooers apprenticing people when its questionable if they know the craft sufficiently themselves….and how many tattooers do you know that are experienced/competent/qualified educators? While teaching is often maligned, it’s a skill set in itself and a competent teacher will teach better than a solely skilled practitioner.

Things are changing in Wales right now, where they are proposing much tighter registration regulations, including a test (I don’t know the specific nature of the test). This type of thinking ‘could’ lead to a more rigorous and accountable apprenticeship model.

That all said….we would do well to remember that tattooing grew out of rule-less outsider culture, so some may say that those that have the drive and ability to survive will, those that don’t wither on the vine and don’t get the gig.
Yup!
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.


Fast track your progress - The complete online tattooing course for beginners


Top