Tattoo Apprentice or Unpaid Labor

My thoughts on Apprenticeship.

The the book "Grit" by author Angela Duckworth, she talks about passion.  Through here scientific research she has found that passion is fostered.  It starts with interest.  "Is it a drag that passions don't come at us all at once, as epiphanies, without the need to develop them? Maybe. But the reality is that our early interests are fragile, vaguely define and in need of energetic, years-long cultivation and refinement"

In other words, even the most accomplished of experts start out as unserious beginners.

Cultivate is the key word.  Interests thrive when there is a crew of encouraging supporters. So I ask the question, why do we do our best to make an apprentice uninterested and avoid cultivating our protégées interest in tattooing?  Manual labor will sort out who is the most obedient and stubborn candidates.   It will not give you the most passionate candidates.

I can see the purpose of having a new prospect front a shop for a year. This time period will cultivate their interests and measure their ability for passion of tattooing. The moment they become an apprentice, in my opinion, all front person job roles cease and they become students of the craft.

The Japanese believe the worst thing you can do is take away someone's pride. Americans seem to thrive on doing it; at least those who believe they have any kind of power over someone else. We've lost the ability to be courteous and take other people's feeling into consideration. This need to break down what we see in others to try to build them up just doesn't work.

Support your apprentice. Set up expectations and provide healthy boundaries.  Have goals with benchmarks and celebrate those wins. Push them out side of their comfort zone so they can build a new awareness of themselves and tattooing.  If you really want to have a student of the craft, curate a proper program of learning than builds a tattooist, not one that tears down a person.

Leave a Comment