As an artist living in the Philly metro area that is home to over 1.5 million people, you’d think it would be easy to land a tattoo apprenticeship and get started on the career of your dreams. After all, Philadelphia is a city full of dreams realized — it’s where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. And of course what says “accomplish your dreams in Philly” more than that iconic training montage with the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Rocky?
Unfortunately, for a lot of artists, getting a tattoo apprenticeship seems like a dream that will always be just out of reach. There may be 1.5 million people, but there are only somewhere around 100 tattoo shops, so not as many opportunities as you’d hope! Maybe you’ve got a steady job and simply can’t make ends meet if you quit it to start working reception in a tattoo studio. Or maybe you’ve just been told “no” when you’ve asked your favorite tattoo artist to teach you. We’ve heard these stories and more! It might seem like it’s nearly impossible to get a tattoo apprenticeship in Philly, but we’ve got good news for you: you can learn to tattoo and we’re ready to mentor you through every step of the process at Body Art & Soul Tattoos! From learning how to create solid tattoo designs to getting your license, we’re there for you. And our tattoo studio in Upper Darby, PA is an easy commute from pretty much anywhere in the Philly metro area.
We’ve trained over 150 tattooists, so we know a lot about what it’s like when you’re trying to figure out where to get started. That’s why we’ve pulled together our top 5 pieces of advice for aspiring tattoo artists about how to get a tattoo apprenticeship in Philadelphia.
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 or your friends. Not only will you endanger them (bloodborne pathogens are bad news), but those kits aren’t even meant for human use! Even if you manage to get your hands on professional equipment, the skills, techniques, and license necessary to keep yourself safe and create quality tattoos can’t be learned from a video on YouTube. In-person, hands-on training with experienced professionals in Philadelphia is required to learn to tattoo safely and effectively. Don’t endanger yourself or your friends by tattooing without proper instruction or without a license.
Now that you’re looking into learning to tattoo from a professional apprenticeship or training program, you’re probably getting overwhelmed. There are a lot of tattoo shops in Philadelphia, but how many are actually looking for an apprentice? How many that say they want an apprentice 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 and a job offer at the end or help you get a license?
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 just dive in. Even if you’re just doing a one-day introductory workshop to see if you’ll like it, go ahead and try it out. The only way to be certain that a future as a professional tattoo artist with a license is right for you is to walk into a Philly tattoo studio, ask questions, and find out for yourself.
The next most important piece of advice for aspiring tattoo artists is to avoid training programs that are just out there to take advantage of you by offering two week or two month training programs. So many “apprenticeships” pretend that the art of tattooing can be taught to you quickly. That’s simply not true. You might be able to quickly wrap your head around the concepts of a tattoo flash portfolio or have answers to the questions on the exam to get a license. But the nuances and techniques required to create professional quality tattoos take much longer to learn. We always recommend looking for tattoo training in Philadelphia that isn’t obviously too good to be true and allows a reasonable amount of time to teach you everything you need to know!
For decades, the traditional path toward becoming a professional tattoo artist has been to find a local tattoo parlor, show your portfolio, and ask for an apprenticeship. 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 is a time-honored and absolutely valid way of learning to tattoo. That said, 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 apprenticeships. We never waste your time with busywork and have a curriculum that you can work through at your own pace to learn everything you need to become a successful tattoo artist including getting your tattoo license. And the best part? We offer jobs to each person who completes their training with us! Once you finish your apprenticeship with Body Art & Soul Tattoos, we’ll have a job offer at our Upper Darby, PA studio waiting for you!
Whether you become an apprentice at another tattoo parlor in Philadelphia or learn the art of tattooing with us, our final piece of advice for aspiring tattoo artists is to never give up! Tattooing is a complicated but rewarding art form, and persistence and patience are key to success. We take the time to ensure that our apprentices are well-prepared for the first time that they apply a needle to their client’s skin. Remember, it takes time to develop your skills, just because you hold a license doesn’t guarantee that you know how to use it well. From day one, a focus and dedication to your craft is required to make sure that you’re doing your best work and avoiding mistakes. So keep your head up and press forward, knowing that you’re bringing beautiful art into this world and helping your clients to express themselves!
We hope this advice for aspiring tattoo artists helps you as you take the journey to becoming a professional tattoo artist! Getting started looking for a tattoo apprenticeship in Philly need not be overwhelming if you follow our advice:
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.