Tattooin’ aint what it used to be

Tattooing has come a long way since the late ‘90s when I got that tattoo kit and started my own tattoo education. The things that you see tattoo artists doing today, even when they have only been tattooing for a few years, is amazing.


It would appear that the hunger for knowledge in this profession and the globalization of our world has expedited the unlocking of so many secrets that used to be tightly guarded. This has done a lot of good for the industry, but there have been negative consequences as well.


It is more important now than ever for the clients to be educated about the tattoo process since the information is so readily available and nearly anyone can own tattoo equipment. Just about anyone can produce semi-decent, poor quality tattoos. However, the overall level of quality in the industry has improved so much from this explosion of knowledge that the good far outweighs the bad.


A tattoo that might have passed as being decent ten years ago is probably on the poor side of the scale in today’s estimation. Since there are so many more individuals who are practicing, many of whom are not completing proper traditional apprenticeships, there is an even greater risk for cross-contamination and health problems to arise.


I feel it is important to share my journey in tattooing with people who are thinking about getting a tattoo (or even thinking about becoming tattoo artists) because most clients don’t seem to grasp how hard it is to break into this industry properly. It is difficult to explain the amount of effort and time that is dedicated by those who want to learn this craft. Most artists literally spend years trying to learn this skill in an apprenticeship where the only payment is little nuggets of information that are like tools in themselves. So much time is dedicated that, when it is all added up, the tattoo artist is really just breaking even his first few years of professional tattooing.


Tattooing is unlike most other art forms in that tattoo artists are required to improve their skills rapidly. Each completed design is on someone’s body forever. There is no eraser for errors. Don’t mistake an artist’s sense of confidence for that of arrogance. Almost like a surgeon who can’t be given the luxury of having a bad day at the office, the tattoo artist is always under the pressure to perform well. Any tattoo artist will tell you how devastating it is to do a “bad” tattoo or to make even a minor mistake.