- I quit my corporate job for a tattoo apprenticeship and am now a full-time artist.
- Knowing how to market yourself on social media is a huge part of the job.
- Even as an introvert, I enjoy meeting new clients and my work environment.
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After majoring in fine art and fashion design, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
I worked in social media and marketing as a content creator for most of my 20s. But after years of anxiety in the corporate world, I wanted to find a career I genuinely enjoyed.
So when my sister-in-law sent me an Instagram post from a Los Angeles tattoo shop, June Jung Art, that was looking for an apprentice, I threw together a portfolio that got me accepted.
I’m thriving as an introvert
Working in marketing as an introvert was mentally draining – I hated the meetings, presentations, events, and open offices and thought it was something I had to deal with for the rest of my life.
Now, I mostly work with other introverts who feel the same way.
As a tattoo artist, I work one-on-one with my clients and do all of the listening. I never thought I’d enjoy meeting new people, but every experience is so unique and rewarding.
The most difficult part of tattooing was finding my own style
Before you’re taught about actual tattooing, you have to learn about blood-borne pathogens and cleanliness.
But despite the steep learning curve, the most difficult thing for me was finding my tattoo style and niche.
I’m currently into micro realism, but I’m sure that’ll shift as my interests change in the future.
Knowledge in social media and marketing is crucial
There’s more to being a tattoo artist than just the art. Most tattooers have to market themselves to get clients, especially when they’re just starting.
My experience in the corporate world has carried over as a large part of my current job. From email etiquette to social-media best practices, everything I’ve learned has given me a head start in growing a clientele.
I started posting TikToks at the start of my tattoo journey, which has given me a huge advantage as a new artist.
Tattooing can be mentally and physically draining
I’m a perfectionist and my own worst critic, so every little thing will keep me up at night, from a design that’s not “good enough” to a tiny “mistake” that’s only visible to me.
Especially when you’re new, the permanent aspect of tattooing adds a lot of pressure. Plus there are so many talented artists that it’s impossible not to compare yourself to others.
Physically, your back and neck ache from the weird positions you have to sit in, and your hand cramps from constantly drawing and holding the machine.
It took months before I could pick up a tattoo machine
Although apprenticeships differ based on the studio and mentor, most of them initially focus on learning how the shop runs, cleaning, and setting up or breaking down stations.
You also work on daily assignments from your mentor, which mostly consist of tracing shapes and drawing.
I lucked out at my apprenticeship and started learning to ink on practice skin after about four to five months.
There’s a lot of work outside of actual tattooing
Outside of my appointments, I’m constantly drawing for my upcoming clients, doing consultations, replying to emails, and going through my request sheet.
Plus I have to keep up with social media and constantly create new content to market myself.
Not all tattoo shops are intimidating
Before working at June Jung Art, I’d only been to intimidating street shops. But now that tattoos are now more mainstream, I think the industry is changing to make clients feel comfortable and welcome.
Because of my past experiences at tattoo shops, I was initially terrified to go to my apprenticeship interview. To my surprise, the shop was clean, airy, and relaxing, plus everyone there was very friendly.
All of the artists are incredibly talented, kind, and helpful. There’s no rivalry or drama, just tattooers who love what they do.