Are All Tattoo Artists Assholes? And How It Led to My Gig.
November 21, 2011 § 9 Comments
Over a year ago I was studying to be a tattoo artist. I mopped the floors, scrubbed ink out of tubes, sanitized needles, traced artwork, set up stations, and studied the machines and techniques constantly. And before they let me start learning the trade, they let me go. They said I was too quiet and shy to work there, even though my drawing skills were far superior to even their best artist. I felt used. Betrayed. That was two months of non-paid work time wasted (that I had to scrounge for because I had another job in order to live at the same time and lived an hour away). They took on a girl after me who did work equivalent to what I was doing in 10th grade. *forehead slap* And because she was loud and had a nasty mouth, they began teaching her the good stuff after only working there for two weeks. It really disheartened me.
I even found another “master” in the Atlanta area who was willing to teach me, which I found out was because he thought I was cute. Boy was this guy a piece of work. After meeting with him he said the art of tattooing was more than physical. It was emotional, spiritual, it was everything. He said if I became his intern, I WOULD end up falling in love with him. It was inevitable, nothing I could do, because I would be spending so much time with him. I would learn life, dancing, the art of speaking. Holy shiz. I high-tailed it out of there.
I was frustrated beyond belief and done with the whole tattooing dream. These people were crazy. But like every thing else in my life, looking back, it was for the best. I struggled for six months to make ends meet, working at Papa Johns as a delivery girl and making only $800 a month after gas, and then at a t-shirt screen printing shop as an illustrator. I found out later he had been paying me under the table…shaaaaddyyyyy. He had given me my check one Friday and said he was letting me go because he wasn’t doing enough business and couldn’t afford to pay me. No fore-warning. Nothing. No wonder other employees had up-and-quit or constantly complained about this guy being an a-hole.
So I became super depressed and terrified. This economy was awful, and I couldn’t find another job that paid enough to pay my $1k a month student loan bills, as well as apartment and other living expenses. My dad was threatening to bring me home to Virginia, which I did NOT want to do. I had a life here, friends, a cool city to hang out in, and Virginia was all government jobs, traffic, and crappy concerts. Not the life I wanted.
I spent the entire month applying for jobs. Even Kroger wouldn’t hire me. I sent in something like over 400 applications and felt exhausted and thought I was failing at life. Then I took a chance and looked on craigslist, which I thought by now was just a bunch of scams. But it couldn’t hurt. There was a small ad for a part-time illustration job for a toy company in my city. I spent the night putting together a small digital portfolio and sent them a link to my paintings as well. I figured they’d get a ton of apps because it was a cool sounding art job. Nope. They called me the next morning to set up an interview. I went in, and later that day they called back and hired me! A month into the job, the owner I guess liked my work enough that he hired me full time. :D
And that’s why I always look at things happening for a reason. Struggling through all that bad stuff led me to a path that gave me everything I ever wanted and needed. I stayed in Atlanta with my best friends, got a (cool) well-paying job, a nice condo, and met the love of my life all in less than a year.
Have you ever struggled with something that eventually led to something wonderful happening?