HOW DO YOU GET INTO TATTOOING?

By Jo Black

If you have clicked on this post, it’s probably because you are genuinely intrigued about ‘how you become a tattoo artist’ and there is a chance that this post is not the step by step guide to success that you were hoping it would be…

Firstly, let me point out that there is a very straightforward answer… Get an apprenticeship.

In my time as a tattoo artist (almost a decade at the time of writing this post) I have apprenticed six people, five of whom are still tattooing to this day and three of whom still work with me in Black Moon. Usually they have come to me almost by coincidence at the right time, or have been people who I knew were interested in learning to tattoo and who were already involved in the industry in some way.

Traditionally, an apprentice is treated really very badly, given the cleaning jobs, the boring tasks that tattoo artists don’t want to do like hand making stencils and scrubbing tips and grips. They have usually started off as a kind of ‘hang around’ at the studio, someone who probably gets tattooed there, hangs about to chat, makes friends with the artists, starts making tea and coffee and often this would develop into a full blown apprenticeship. THESE DAYS, however, it’s a little different… social media being what it is, everyone under the sun can post their artwork online and claim to be an ‘aspiring tattoo artist’ and finding your next apprentice has suddenly become incredibly easy because everyone wants to learn to tattoo.

Aside from that, there are also now ‘tattoo schools’ which charge YOU money to learn to tattoo in a very short space of time. This is not respected in the industry, don’t bother (perhaps the subject of another post for another time).

The reason I am taking the time to write this post is because over the last few weeks I have been inundated with emails, usually starting with some combination or variation of the words ‘just wanted to drop a quick email, I’m sorry if you get asked this a lot, but I wanted to know how do I get into tattooing?’

I’m going to be utterly and brutally honest here, this immediately puts me off giving advice and winds me up immensely. If you find that comment or anything else I say in this post offensive then frankly you are probably not cut out to be a tattoo artist so just stop reading now. It’s a VERY HARD job, it’s exhausting AND it you need thick skin which is why traditional apprenticeships are usually so tough, to prepare you for the real deal (again perhaps the topic of another blog).

Let me be clear, I am not saying that all of the emails I get asking for advice wind me up, sometimes they come from a genuine place of curiosity or passion, and I am certainly not suggesting that every person who asks me on behalf of their friend or their kid who’s doing art at GCSE falls under the same heading of ‘annoying’, but what I am saying is that in this day and age where everything has to be instant and immediate, sometimes taking your time and doing a little research goes a LONG way to showing you are the real deal. In a time when everyone wants to learn to tattoo, you need to be the person who stands out, goes the extra mile and proves that you are serious before anyone will take a second look at you.

The reason it winds me up so much is that the majority of these enquiries come from people who claim to have ‘always been into art’ or who have ‘been illustrating for a while now and fancy a change of career’ or even figured they would make a better living out of tattooing than drawing’. We as an industry are desperately passionate about our craft, about the history of the industry, about the art and about the immense level of skill and dedication it takes to learn. We respect each other and for the most part we encourage each other to continue to learn and improve all the time. When I get these emails from people who don’t seem to have any involvement in the world of tattooing at all, by which I mean they don’t get tattooed, they don’t attend conventions, they don’t spend hours reading blogs or watching documentaries about the industry, they probably don’t even buy skin deep or total tattoo, it gets me angry! Tattooing is fashionable right now, it’s also more accepted and appreciated in mainstream media and in work environments then it has ever been before, and suddenly every Tom Dick and Harry wants to jump on the bandwagon and avoid the hard work.

My genuine advice to anyone who seriously wants to consider tattooing as a career (and it is a lifestyle not just a career) is this:

Immerse yourself in the industry, buy magazines and books, watch vice documentaries, read our blogs, follow tattoo pages and artists, visit conventions but MOST importantly GO AND GET TATTOOED, not just a little one, but go get heavily tattooed, by several artists, invest your time and your money in spending time in studios that you respect, getting tattooed by artists you admire, when you invest in us and you have built up a friendship and a trust with the artists who work on you, then and only then should you approach the subject of how you could potentially get an apprenticeship. Show us that you are as passionate about our industry as we are and that you are serious about taking this career on as a lifestyle and we will have all the time in the world to chat with you about the best way to get into the industry!

I just want to reiterate here that I am not trying to be a dick, or belittle anyone’s attempts to gather information about how you learn to tattoo, I understand that you have to start somewhere and asking a question of a tattoo artist seems like the most direct route to an answer, I get that it’s not always obvious, people are new to all of this and I’m not trying to put anyone off asking questions. However, if you aren’t serious enough to already be involved in the industry to some level (even just reading magazines and watching documentaries) then you probably aren’t that serious at all.

As I said before, this industry is brutal and passionate and if you cannot take a bit of hard hitting honesty, if any of this offends you, step away now because this is the tip of the iceberg.

Okay, that’s me done.

CHRISTMAS CANCELLATIONS

‘Tis the season to overspend and have to cut back elsewhere. But please consider how that could affect self employed people!

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Our normal studio policy allows you to move an appointment once without having to pay a new deposit, and cancelled appointments will always result in the deposit being kept as compensation for loss of earnings to the studio. However, due to the amount of people letting us down in Previously, during the Christmas and new year period, this policy is slightly different.

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If you are booked in throughout November, December and January, and you wish to rearrange, move or postpone an appointment, you will be required to pay a new deposit.

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We understand that Christmas is an expensive month and we do appreciate that other unexpected expenses arise in these months, but when you make an appointment with a tattoo artist, it is a commitment which we rely upon to survive financially. As tattoo artists, we are our own small independent businesses, and unfortunately when people cancel appointments it has an immense effect on our financial stability. Please remember that we don’t just tattoo for the love of it, although we do love it, but we all have mortgages and bills and christmases to pay for too! So, if you want your friendly neighbourhood tattoo artists to survive the winter then we all need to pop our business hats on and be a little stricter this year! Please think before you make an appointment if you can’t honour the commitment, it could be really damaging for your tattoo artist to be let down. Thanks for understanding guys! .

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We love you! πŸ–€πŸ–€

INFECTION AWARENESS

We want to try and educate clients on the best practices to avoid contaminating fresh tattoos with bacteria during aftercare.

Recently the issue of ‘Sepsis’ commonly known as blood poisoning has been in the media a lot, partly due to soap opera storylines about how getting a simple graze on your knee that you don’t clean properly turns into an infection at the site and eventually into potentially fatal sepsis or septic shock.

This kind of hygiene awareness is so important in hospitals, in day to day life but also in the tattoo and piercing industry.

We do everything in our power to ensure that you leave the studio with a perfectly clean, sterile, disinfected tattoo or piercing, tattoos are wrapped in sterile dressing and we then provide you with all the instructions needed to properly heal your tattoo.

We also offer a first day cleaning pack and butterluxe antibacterial aftercare balm at Β£5 each.

Infections are very rare, and hardly ever picked up from tattoo studios or their equipment directly, especially not reputable ones like ours! This is because of the amount of disinfectant and antibacterial products used, we can confidently eliminate the possibility of bacteria growing anywhere that the tattoo is exposed to. All of our equipment is single use & disposable, machines and power units are sterilised after every client with medical grade disinfectant and an autoclave and all furniture and surfaces are double protected with fresh plastic wrapping and medical disinfectant after every client.

Infections are most commonly picked up after you unwrap your tattoo, in your own environments at home. Bacteria is commonly present on bathroom towels, clothing, skin, furniture and in pet hair, dander and saliva among other places. So we can do our bit to ensure you leave us with a perfectly clean and sterile tattoo, and the rest is up to you!

The point of making you aware of this risk is not to scare you, but to help encourage best practise when taking care of your new tattoo. It is extremely rare for tattoos to become infected, but arming every client with the knowledge and tools to prevent it is the best way to ensure that it happens as rarely as possible!!

This is why we are overly cautious, and why we are constantly cleaning your tattoo during the process with medical grade soaps and disinfectants, and why we continue to clean it obsessively before we actually wrap you up! We aren’t just wiping it more at the end to cause more pain, we are trying to give you the best possible chance of a good healing environment!

WHERE YOU MIGHT PICK UP AN INFECTION:

Animal hair, dander or saliva. Unclean hands used for cleaning or creaming the tattoo, Fibres and bacteria from bed linen, furniture, bath towels and flannels etc. Bath tubs, swimming pools, saunas and the sea. You may also pick up infections from bacteria living on your own clothing, especially tight fitting clothes over open tattoos. Tattoos can become infected if the wrong aftercare balm or soap is used and aggravates it, or from picking or itching healing tattoos.

Bacteria grows everywhere, and it only takes a very small amount to get into your open tattoo (and not be cleaned away properly) to multiply and develop into an infection.

We have information on the signs and symptoms to look out for in our 14 day aftercare guide.

Remember that bacterial infections are VERY rare, especially if you take good care of your tattoo so don’t panic about every little thing, some things are part of the normal healing process. That is why we have the 14 day aftercare guide to check what is normal and what isn’t! πŸ™‚

AFTERCARE:

We now offer a first day cleaning care pack at Black Moon, which we highly recommend you purchase. It’s Β£5 for the basic cleaning pack and Β£10 with aftercare balm included.

Purchase of these packs is not compulsory, but if you choose not to we do ask that you sign a consent form saying that you opted out of this offer.

We also always provide a 14 day aftercare guide, PLEASE read it carefully it is very important. Yes there is a lot of information in there, but it has the basic steps for cleaning and healing your tattoo as well as plenty of in depth information on what to look out for and how to care for your tattoo long term too!

ILLNESS:

You might also be surprised to know that if you are unwell or have recently been unwell or run down your tattoo could take a lot longer to heal due to a drop in your immune system response. Being unwell could also lead to an infected tattoo, so please be honest with us about your recent health and we will advise you on how best to treat your new tattoo.

SUPPLEMENTS:

You can use supplements such as vitamins C & A to help your skin heal quickly, and garlic and echinaecea which are powerful antioxidants and excellent immune system support.

Eating lots of protein and drinking plenty of water leading up to and after your tattoo session is also really helpful for effective healing.

In short, please do ever not think that the tattoo process is complete when you leave the studio with your new tattoo clean and wrapped, it is really just beginning! The moment you unwrap it that evening you allow foreign contaminants to enter the tattoo site. Be as careful as we are. The healing process is JUST as important if not MORE important than the tattooing process.

https://www.sepsis.org/sepsis-and/prevention/wound-infection-care/

FRIDAY 13th!!

The League Against Cruel Sports aimed to ban fox hunting, stag hunting, otter hunting, hare hunting and coursing throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, back when the organisation was first founded in 1924.

Since then, sadly The League are still having to campaign many of the same issues today but despite this, their work has been essential in helping to bring about more protective laws with the backing of cross-party political groups, which to name a few include otters having full protection from hunting, the hunting act 2004 which banned hunting with hounds, they helped change the law on badger baiting to strengthen the law for badger protection. Not to mention their undercover investigations, leading roles in liaising with police and private prosecutions to help enforce the law in hunting activities, even persuading travel agents to stop promoting trips to the Pamplona Bull Run. Not only does The League Against Cruel Sports campaign and gather evidence of the cruelty involved, they also provide woodland and fields in the West Country that provides much needed sanctuary for hunted animals.

One of The League Against Cruel Sports many key crusades is dog fighting. After it being banned in 1835, these cruel activities still remain prevalent today. Project Bloodline was set up to protect dogs from being exploited, investigating participants and to educate and therein lies The League Against Cruel Sports motto: Investigate. Educate. Protect.

Here at Black Moon, we can’t think of a single reason why we shouldn’t be backing such a remarkable cause! So with this in mind on Friday 13th July Black Moon Tattoo Studio will be holding a fundraising event, whereby 30% of all the profits raised from the Friday 13th tattoos will be going straight to The League Against Cruel Sports.

The event will be starting at 11am and will last all day!

We pride ourselves on having a comfortable and friendly atmosphere, so bring your friends and family along to see what we have going on. We will have snacks and drinks available, kids are more than welcome! If you don’t fancy getting a tattoo we are more than happy for you to come and take a look at our beautiful studio, maybe even pop in a donation while you’re here!

Hope to see you there!

For more information on The League Against Cruel Sports visit: https://www.league.org.uk/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI-ZCQip-I3AIVybHtCh2vPgGtEAAYASAAEgIp2vD_BwE

VEGAN FRIENDLY TATTOOS

I wanted to just address something that we are asked regularly by clients. The question ‘Do you use vegan inks?’

The answer in short is yes we do. Most tattoo inks are now vegan and certainly all the brands we use at Black Moon are.

So, we could just leave it there and let people make the assumption that because we use vegan friendly ink, that means that the tattooing process is vegan also.

However, tattoo artists do also use many disposable items such as Vaseline, cling film, carbon paper, various plastic items such as our disposable razors, cartridges, soaps and balms as well as products that contain things like beeswax, lanolin and honey or occasionally even glycerine which are not technically vegan. Additionally, some products in the process may be made by companies that do not produce items in a manor which is not strictly vegan.

Some of these things are items that many of our Vegan customers (and there are a lot) are happy to β€˜overlook’ because they are necessary in order to do a tattoo, however some vegans seek out studios that make an effort to source alternative β€˜vegan friendly’ versions of these things. However, they are often very difficult to get hold of and much more expensive so many studios cannot maintain this ethical standard 100% of the time.

If you are searching for strictly vegan studios there is a really useful site here:

http://vegantattoostudios.com

So you see it isn’t a simple yes or not, really it isn’t just about the inks, there are tons of products to consider when deciding if the studio you use is a completely vegan one.

There is some really good info on line about the various products we use on a daily basis which are not necessarily completely vegan, we do source products that are cruelty free, from ethical companies but sadly β€˜strictly vegan’ is not always possible in this industry.

https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/lifestyle/fashion/vegan-tattoos

As a studio, we are happy to discuss any concerns you have about products we use and would also be completely happy for anyone wanting to replace any of these products with a vegan alternative to get in contact, so they can purchase these items in advance and eliminate anything that isn’t strictly vegan such as Vaseline or razors etc.

We look forward to helping you to make your tattoo exactly what you want.

You can email enquiries@blackmoontattoos.com or call us on 01373464699 for more info.

Meet Our INCREDIBLE Team

JO BLACK:

The owner of Black Moon was originally from London, and grew up in Wiltshire.

Jo started tattooing almost ten years ago.

Before becoming a tattoo artist some of her previous occupations included life insurance sales, bar work and chef work.

Jo specialises in the illustrative – traditional style, but would love to design more dark and gothic inspired tattoos.

Instagram:

πŸ“± @MISSJOBLACKTATTOOS

To book with Jo email:

βœ‰οΈ joblack@blackmoontattoos.com

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JODIE YOUNG:

Originally from Haverfordwest, Wales, Jodie moved here when she was a child. She has been artistic since avery young age and joined the Black Moon team as an apprentice in January 2017. This has been Jodie’s first job in the tattoo industry and a far cry from the retail assistant that once was!

Jodie specialises in colour realism and would like to incorporate more portraits into her portfolio.

πŸ“±Instagram: @jodieeyoung

To book with Jodie email:

βœ‰οΈ jodie@blackmoontattoos.com

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AMY WHITING:

Originally from Buckland, Oxfordshire Amy moved to Bath back in 2012. Before starting her apprenticeship in June 2017, Amy has always worked in artistic and creative jobs ranging from design work for a florist, a print finisher for a letter press company and even a freelance illustrator.

Having an interest in the industry since as far back as she can remember, it wasn’t until after she had finished university that she developed her own style of illustration using pen and ink. Designing tattoos for people who asked she soon came to the realisation that she would prefer to be the one to tattoo her own designs!

Amy specialises in blackwork with themes of nature, the macabre, and the esoteric but would love to add to her ever growing portfolio by introducing some spookier and darker pieces, both in contrast and in theme!

Instagram:

πŸ“± @INKANDWILDERNESS

To book email:

βœ‰οΈ amy@blackmoontattoos.com to book in with her.

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JIM WILDING:

Jim specialises in Black and Grey Realism, if you want a portrait of Someone famous or a family member, or a tattoo that looks like a photograph, Jim is the man for the job!

Instagram:

πŸ“± @JIMWILDINKTATTOO

To book in email:

πŸ“±wildinktattoo@outlook.com

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KERRY ST.CLEMENT

Instagram:

πŸ“± @hello_kerry_tattoos

To book in email:

βœ‰οΈ hello_kerry@blackmoontattoos.com

Originally from Belfast, Kerry moved to Bristol in 2006 to study fine art at university. Before starting an apprenticeship in 2012 Kerry was working as a bar maid and waitress alongside studying for her art degree, she also found the time to begin work experience at a tattoo studio in Bristol with tattoo artist Ben Boston.

With an early love of the art styles involved in tattooing, Kerry went on to collect her own tattoos when she was 18 and has been designing and tattooing pieces for 6 years.

Kerry specialises in anything cartoony, cute and colourful and would love to add more watercolour designs to her portfolio and to list a few themes she’d also love incorporating would be Hello Kitty, Disney, Studio Ghibli, My Little Pony, Pusheen, Rila Kumma, Simpsons and Sanrio characters!

@HELLO_KERRY_TATTOOS

Email: hello_kerry@blackmoontattoos.com to book in with her.

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