How to Get a Tattoo Apprenticeship in New England

As an aspiring tattooist living in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts or somewhere else in New England, it can be frustrating trying to figure out how to get started on a tattoo apprenticeship. Though there are hundreds of tattoo shops and tattoo artists in the big eastern metropolitan cities like Boston, Providence, and New Haven, there aren’t too many who are looking for tattoo apprentices. And even fewer who want to spend time answering questions from aspiring tattoo artists about their business and career. 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 England. At this point, you might be on the verge of giving up your dream of a tattooing career because the obstacles seem too great. Maybe you’ve got a steady job and simply can’t make ends meet if you quit it to start and apprenticeship working reception in a tattoo studio. Or maybe you’ve just been told “no” when you’ve showed your portfolio to your favorite tattoo artist and asked them to teach you. Just because someone is a great artist, it doesn’t mean they would make a great teacher either. We’ve heard these stories and more! It might seem like it’s nearly impossible to get a tattoo apprenticeship in New England, 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 the 2,000+ hours of experience you need for your license, we’re there for you. And our tattoo studio in New Haven, CT  is an easy commute from pretty much anywhere in New England including the Hartford, Boston, and Providence metro areas.

We’ve trained over 150 tattooists, so we know a lot about what it’s like when you’re trying to figure out how to start your tattoo career. 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 New England.

1. Don’t Tattoo on Your Own

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 CT, RI or MA state 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 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. 

2. Commit to Your Future and Take that First Step

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 Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, but how many are actually offering an apprenticeship? How many that 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 and start your career?

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 career as a professional tattoo artist with a license is right for you is to walk into a tattoo studio near you, ask questions, and find out for yourself. 

3. Great Art Can’t Be Rushed

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. Beware of an “apprenticeship” that pretends the art of tattooing can be taught to you in a few days or weeks. 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 a bloodborne pathogen exam, but you’ll still need 2,000+ hours of practical experience to get a license. The nuances and techniques required to create professional quality tattoos take a long time to learn, so we always recommend looking for tattoo training in New England that isn’t obviously too good to be true and allows a reasonable amount of time to teach you everything you need to know to start a prosperous career!

4. Decide What You Want from an Apprenticeship

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 apprenticeship program. 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 because we’re invested in your successful career! Once you finish your apprenticeship with Body Art & Soul Tattoos, we’ll have a job offer at our New Haven, CT studio waiting for you!

5. Never Give Up!

Whether you start an apprenticeship at another tattoo parlor in New England or learn the art of tattooing with us at our New Haven studio, 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!

Next Steps for Your Tattoo Career in New England

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 New England need not be overwhelming if you follow our advice:

Trying to create tattoos on your own is dangerous and discouraging, so don’t do it Believe in yourself and take a professional route Remember that learning a new skill takes time Find a tattoo apprenticeship in New England that works for you Stay focused and dedicated to the craft

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.