We spoke with Dan this week about his goals for the future of Lockland Old School Tattoo; the reason behind all our questions was to better understand his tactics in hiring and developing the tattoo artists that will be working within his walls. That and my own personal knowledge of Apprenticeships in body modification arts. It wasn't a pretty outlook on the tattoo industry as a whole but I appreciated the honesty he gave as well as the Gentleman he is when it comes to gender identity and equality. The history of tattooing still has a gruff stigma, filled with all kinds of characters who may have seedy motives for bringing on apprentices or assistants. In my naiveté, I was a bit taken aback that some artists trade their education for sexual favors.
It makes sense, people may use their bodies as they please so long as consent is given, but the shocking part is so called "Artists" feeling entitled enough to trade their knowledge for a body. In lieu of the shady practices, Dan explained his program. No, it is not free. But with just a cost of about a 100.00 a week, you get to train and learn styles with drawing prompts, tattoo history, color theory, blood safety and first aid, etc. In turn, in a year, he would like you to be ready to advance in your career and sign a 2 year contract with his shop. So it's really custom tailored for a serious artist.
I came to this meeting prepared, a friend of mine stated on Facebook that apprenticeships for tattooing were about 5k and he supported his artist in not wanting to shell out that money to be legitimate. But why?
Then one of my oldest friends chimed in on the same feed and posed this side: every trade needs education and education is not free. However, 5k is way more attainable, and less likely to put you in debt for 30 years as compared to traditional colleges. I believe the disconnect is that people are not looking at artists as being career driven, business people, and that's a stigma we need to change. We tell women everyday to know their worth, so maybe we need to tell everybody else the same thing. The artists that are charging a hundred per tattoo at the kitchen table, can easily apprentice, start in shop and charge twice as much if not more. So, would you prefer to do 10 tattoos to earn a 1000 a week, or does 3 tattoos sound more like your lifestyle? When you work legitimately, you can work less hours and make more money. That is the American dream.
I have shelled out hundreds of dollars to a few artists in my adult years to give me body art that I want to woo over for the rest of my life. Hell yea, I'm going to find the most talented shop artist that I can to do the work. They have earned my hard earned dollars even before I met them. A lot of people can draw, but a professional knows to tell me that the watercolor outline I want isn't going to stand the test of time, while offering me viable options to not have a harsh black line around my upcoming half sleeve. Another overlooked issue with home tattooists is the safety and sanitation. Do they have the required certifications, are they insured? These are minor details to some, but really hold these "scratchers" to higher standards, which is so important if people are sticking needles into your skin.
Aside from Dan, the LOST shop has two talented artists, The lovely Malissia Combs who does tattoo work and permanent cosmetics and Hope Hollandsworth, who's linework is so dainty and feminine the contrast in her dark tattoos is stunning. Dan's current apprentice is soon to be hitting the floor so a new spot is available now. With all his patience and quirky nature, an apprenticeship under Dan seems like it would be a lot of fun as well as a great start to a lucrative career. It would be a great role for a person that works during the day; his shop is open until 9pm, so grabbing that education with evening sessions is so easy.
Great artists are born, but flourish with the help of mentors and educators. If you know anyone that is looking to start in the tattoo industry, send them to LOST. It could even be you that has had their heart set on giving permanent art to your clients. Here is the sign you have been waiting for.
Good Luck and Get LOST.