How would you describe what you do?
I guess the application of artwork to the human body would be the best way to put it. Making people happier with themselves.
What does your work entail?
Well, it’s considered a medical procedure, the basics. It’s regulated by the Health Department. We’ve got to be wary of cross-contamination, things like that. So, you’ve got to have at least some minor medical background. An artistic eye and talent helps. That’s the difference between a tattoo artist and a tattooist, which are two totally different things.
I’ve done tattoos on teachers, principals, police officers, politicians, as well as punk rockers, you name it. Just because you have a tattoo, doesn’t make you a bad person.
A tattooist can do anything they can see off the wall. A tattoo artist can take anything they can see on the wall and make it better. As far as an average week, there is no average honestly. As you can see our hours are different for example Monday and Tuesday 1-9, Fridays 1-11, sometimes we have a chance to get out of here early, sometimes we’re here until 2 or 3 in the morning.
How did you get started?
I’ve always been interested in stuff like this. Ever since I was a kid. But I’m from California too.
What do you like about what you do?
Diversity, meeting new people and doing new things, trying new techniques. Just not being held back.
What do you dislike?
Not everybody’s polite; some people are just plain jackasses.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated as a tatoo artist?
Commission. Some of them give a 50/50 split, some of them do a 60/40 split, it all depends on how the shop is set up. Sometimes you buy your own supplies, sometimes they buy your supplies.
How much money do you make as a tatoo artist?
I probably average somewhere around $30,000.
What education or skills are needed to do this?
You’ve got to go through a minimum of 6 months apprenticeship, Health Department requirement. Any art classes of course would be of benefit. And you’ve got to be willing to stick your neck out there and stand on your own two feet, literally.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Skin. You’ve got to be prepared to switch how you’re tattooing from point to point. The skin on your body can vary greatly, an 1/8th of an inch over is totally different than it was at the spot before. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can screw up a tattoo pretty quick.
What is most rewarding?
Having something to show for your work.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Prepare yourself. Usually you are either rolling fast or not at all, so make sure you set things to the side and you plan for the future.
How much time off do you get/take? It depends on what I need. I pay for my own vacations. We’re considered independent contractors.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
Only the bad boys and bad girls get tattoos, honestly. I’ve done tattoos on teachers, principals, police officers, politicians, as well as punk rockers, you name it. Just because you have a tattoo, doesn’t make you a bad person.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
To own my own place.