If you want an apprenticeship at any shop e-mails and phone calls, messaging will not get you in any tattoo shop. When you are ready hit the pavement walk into shops with your portfolio. (and a resume wouldn’t hurt!) Ask for an apprenticeship or a portfolio critique. Show you’re interested in working for the shop not just there to start your super star career. You have to get your portfolio together make sure it shows line work, shading, color, and blending abilities. Not sketchy line drawings or a painting you did in high school stuffed in a folder and it is better if the art work is done on good paper not lined note book paper. Show your talent and pride in the art you show the shop.
Figure out what type of tattoo styles the tattoo shop does before you go there. Some shop’s styles are strictly what you see. Always research the shop see if they do a variety of styles. If your style is more old school or traditional don’t go to a shop that does strictly realism, same goes in the reverse. Research!
You should study tattoo styles, tattoo artists, and find a favorite artist to show you know something about the industry. Do not walk into a shop talking about your favorite tattoo artist from the latest TV shows most tattoo shops are not impressed with tattoo shows. Really research there are many great artists in the industry. Also get tattooed at the shop you want to work at, pick the artist brain, watch how they work and, really listen to what they say.
Be ready to have doors shut in your face, and having artists showing no interest in seeing your art work. It is not easy to get into a shop. It is work to get an apprenticeship and a lot of works after you’re in the door. Also try outside of the city you live in you may find more shops have available positions or shops that need to fill a spot. Be prepared to do any job they give you for any amount of time they say you will do it. No one gets a free ride in this business. Don’t get a kit and mess people up, and then come to the shop and show off what you did this only adds to the disrespect you will get from most artists in the industry.
Tattooing on your own also makes it hard to undo all the bad habits that are created by not understanding the basics. This is not an easy job a lot of people try tattooing and do not make it or are not making money from it and have a second job. Most of the time you will do an unpaid apprenticeship and have a job so you can live this holds true even when you start tattooing full time.
Apprentice/Tattooist life is demanding it can wear on your relationships with friends and spouses. Plan on giving up a lot of your free time, Fridays, and Saturdays included. Because most shops are open on these days and later in the day throughout the week. You will be expected to be there from open to close. If you’re asked to pay for apprenticeships get a contract before handing over the money, maybe just walk away. A lot of the time paying for apprenticeship amounts to, they take your money treat you like crap, you never tattoo and then it is over.
As you see this is not a question to be asked by e-mail or by phone you will need to show your heart is in the asking and that you’re willing to put the work in to achieve your goal. Also be honest with yourself is this life really for you?