As an aspiring tattoo artist living in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, or the Bronx, it can be hard to figure out the best way to look for tattoo apprenticeships. The New York metro area is full of celebrity tattoo artists and your Instagram feed is probably full of them. With hundreds of tattoo shops in the city, there aren’t too many who are looking for a tattoo apprentice. And even fewer who want to spend time answering your questions about their business and career. And if you’re a fan of Ink Masters, you know how intimidating master 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 New York City. You’re probably asking yourself “Is my portfolio good enough to land a tattoo apprenticeship in NYC?” “Can I make a living as a tattoo artist in an expensive city like NYC?” “Is a career as a tattoo artist right for me?” We’ve got some advice for you that can help answer these questions!
At this point, you might be ready to give up your artistic dream of a tattooing career in the city that never sleeps because there are so many challenges to overcome. Maybe you don’t want to leave your steady job to start an apprenticeship where you spend one or two years working as the tattoo shop’s receptionist. Or maybe you’ve been turned away when you’ve visited a tattoo shop with your portfolio and asked a tattoo artist you know to teach you. Maybe you’re worried about leaving the security of a job that lets you work from home and are wondering whether you can learn to tattoo safely in a post-COVID world. We’ve heard these stories before!
Although it might seem like you’ll have to be one in a million to land a tattoo apprenticeship in New York City, we’ve got good news for you: you can learn to tattoo in a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive environment in our studio right near the Morgan L train stop.
At Ink Different Tattoo School, we’re ready to mentor you through every step of your journey. From learning how to create impeccable tattoo designs to getting your license and pulling your first line on your first client, we’re there for you. Our Brooklyn-based tattoo studio is at 95 Morgan Avenue in Bushwick, so it is easy to get to wherever you are in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, the Bronx, or the surrounding NYC-metro area. And the first part of our training involves live, one-on-one video sessions in a virtual classroom with an instructor, so you can start online. Once you pass the requirements of the virtual training, you’ll be ready to complete your apprenticeship in our studio, where you’ll learn about preventing cross contamination along with sanitizing and disinfecting procedures.
We’ve trained over 150 tattoo artists, so we know how to start you on the right path to your career as a successful tattoo artist. We’re invested in your success and your future, so have curated our top 5 pieces of advice for aspiring tattoo artists about how to land a tattoo apprenticeship in Brooklyn and the NYC-metro area.
Our first piece of important advice for aspiring tattoo artists is: don’t tattoo on your own! Remember, if you buy a (hazardous) tattoo kit online, you put yourself and your clients in danger. Not only is there a real possibility to spread bloodborne pathogens, and those are bad news, but those kits aren’t even meant for human use! Even if you find somewhere to buy professional equipment, the skills, techniques, and NYC tattooing license necessary to keep yourself safe and create decent tattoos can’t be learned from a video on YouTube. By the time you’re ready to start your apprentice tattoos, you need in-person, hands-on training with experienced and caring professionals. Don’t endanger yourself or anyone else by tattooing without a licensed professional’s oversight or without a license.
Now you know you need to learn to tattoo from a professional apprenticeship or training program, you might be feeling overwhelmed. There are a lot of tattoo shops in New York City (and a lot of famous ones too!), but how many are offering real apprenticeships? How many that say they will teach you just want someone to clean for free, draw their flash, and book their appointments? And as far as other options you might find online, which ones are real and which ones overpromise and under-deliver? Which ones have a thriving studio near you and a job offer at the end? Do any of them help you get a license and give you a station to use at the start your career?
No matter the resource you’re looking at, getting answers to these questions can be scary. All our artists and apprentices have been there, and the best advice we’ve got for aspiring tattoo artists at this point is to just go for it. Talk to people in the industry you know, visit the tattoo studios you are interested in and ask as many questions as you can. The only way to be certain that becoming a professional NYC licensed tattoo artist is right for you is to walk into a tattoo studio, ask questions, and find out for yourself.
Feeling excited? Remember that great art and the skills to make it take time to develop. So, our next most important piece of advice for aspiring NYC tattoo artists is to avoid two week or two month training programs. Beware of any program or anyone who suggests that the art of tattooing can be taught quickly. It’s just not possible. Even top notch drawing and painting skills don’t translate directly to tattooing skills. And though you might be able to quickly get answers to the questions on a bloodborne pathogen exam, you’ll still need practical experience and a studio to tattoo in to get a license. The nuanced techniques required to create professional high-quality tattoos take a long time to learn, so look for tattoo training in Brooklyn and NYC 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 your prosperous new career! And remember, as a tattoo artist, you never stop learning, so make sure you find yourself a studio with a great environment where your fellow artists are supportive and aren’t going to try to poach your clients.
It’s your art and your time, so make sure you found a situation that works for you. You may know that for decades, there has been only one way to become a professional tattoo artist: visit a local tattoo parlor, hope to impress them with your portfolio, and then ask to be their apprentice. This usually leads to a years-long process of working at the front desk, cleaning the shop, and eventually learning to tattoo at the whim of the artists. This may work well for some people, but if you receive rejections or can’t afford to sit at the front desk while waiting to learn something, then we encourage you to check out our tattoo apprenticeship program. You can follow the curriculum at your own pace to learn everything you need to become a successful tattoo artist including getting your New York City tattoo license. And the best part? We offer jobs to each apprentice who completes their training with us because we’re invested in your successful tattooing career! Once you finish your training with Ink Different Tattoo School, we’ll have a job offer at our Brooklyn studio waiting for you! You can even start your training online in a live virtual classroom in the early phases of your apprenticeship. You’ll learn about creating solid flash and practice on fake skin as you work one-on-one with a dedicated trainer. Once you pass the requirements of the virtual training, you’ll be ready to complete your apprenticeship in our welcoming Bushwick studio.
Whether you find an apprenticeship at another tattoo parlor in NYC or learn the art of tattooing with us at our Brooklyn studio, our final piece of advice for aspiring tattoo artists is: never give up! Tattooing is a complicated but rewarding art form, and patiently sticking to it is key to success. We make sure our apprentices have enough time to be well-prepared for the first time that they apply a needle to their client’s skin. Developing new skills takes time and effort, and just because you hold a license doesn’t guarantee that you know how to use it well. From day one, commitment to your craft is required to make sure that you’re doing your best artwork and avoiding mistakes. So believe in yourself and stay positive, knowing that you’re creating beautiful art and helping your clients to express themselves!
We hope this advice for aspiring tattoo artists helps you as you embark on your journey to becoming a professional tattoo artist! Getting started on your tattoo career in Brooklyn and NYC need not be overwhelming if you follow our advice:
While this career isn’t an easy one, it’s tremendously rewarding and we love to help aspiring tattoo artists achieve their dreams! If you have any questions about your future as a tattoo artist, don’t hesitate to reach out! Start a chat to find out more.