So you're an artist. You've put in a lot of hours watching, drawing, erasing, drawing and watching some more. You've paid for an apprenticeship and learned the basics, but now, you're in a new state with new laws. This is the story of my life.
I am a tattoo artist and I have a small life with big dreams that require working in a tattoo shop. You see, I want to be a licensed tattoo artist in the state of Virginia. Problem is, no tattoo shop will take you without a lot of money.
In my two year journey to become a shop artist I have learned many things and seen many things. However, the one thing I will never forget is being told that nowadays tattoo shops done really do actual apprenticeships. Wait, his exact words were:
"The art of tattooing is not freely shared, we won't be taking on you or anyone else. If you're not born into it, it is none of your business."
He has, so far, been correct. I paid $500 to the owner of a tattoo shop in Maryland for an apprenticeship and to be honest, most of what I learned was from self discovery. I basically paid to clean their bathrooms and tattoo equipment and if I did get to watch and by default learn something, it was few and far between.
Not too long after I became what shop tattooists call a scratcher. Though I worked in a sterile environment and used one-time use needles and grips, as well as, produced honest professional looking work, I was labeled as if I were spreading disease and stealing money for grade school stick art. When I placed an ad or spoke of doing work, my email was flooded with angry artists grinding on and on about how I better hid and nobody wants work done by a disgusting scratcher. And artists who weren't working in a shop were a blight on society and in league with the devil. (If that were true perhaps I should have made a heftier wish, eh?)
Not much has changed, as I have spoken to many shops and I either get quoted a hefty fee for an "apprenticeship" or flat out told to go home. Not a single person has asked to look at any of my work or asked me to tell them about why I chose to be a tattooist. Here in Virginia you are required to have shop hours. So tell me, where do I get those?
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