With the popularity of tattooing and the rising awareness that you need a formal education, “tattoo schools” are popping up around the country, guaranteeing they’ll teach you how to tattoo in as little as two weeks. And, of course, it’s a scam.
Here are some photos from one of the bigger tattoo schools in Michigan, and why you can’t trust shit.
A formal apprenticeship takes 3-5 years. During that time you’ll mostly be learning how to eat shit from the established tattoo artists in the shop, cleaning/setting up for them, and generally learning about tattooing. Apprenticeships weed out the weak. Plus, they’re super hard to come by. Tattoo schools are a short cut for those who don’t want to invest in this formal education, or who won’t be accepted. Do you really want to be tattooed by someone who isn’t invested or good enough?
In a formal apprenticeship, you also learn about safety. Why shops shouldn’t have fabric chairs for clients. Why you wear gloves. Most tattoo schools will cover this because of how widely the importance of it is understood, but do you want to trust your body to someone with years of understanding of bloodborn pathogens, HIV, infections, and sanitation—or two weeks?
More importantly, tattoo schools cheapen the value of real artists. Formal apprenticeships are the equivalent to an undergrad. They take the same time commitment and demonstrate the same level of understanding.
You wouldn’t trust a stranger with a calculator to do your taxes. Don’t trust someone with a tattoo machine to do your tattoos unless they have the background and experience to be a tattoo artist.