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?

Fair Rabbit, 


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§ 9 Responses to Are All Tattoo Artists Assholes? And How It Led to My Gig.

  • olletron says:

    That’s so awesome! There aren’t any artsy jobs at all here which really sucks, I’m still searching :

    • Fair Rabbit says:

      Where do you live? I have alumni access to my school’s art jobs listings.
      Word of caution tho. Any art-related jobs I’ve ever come across have had the need for a 4 year degree. If you’re serious about it, I’d go to a state college, do tutorials on-line, and work your butt off in your spare time. Going to a private college and wracking up over 100k in debt isn’t worth what you get paid as an artist. And even if you do get a degree, it’s not guaranteed you’ll get a job. 90% of my graduating class isn’t working in their field. :/
      In all honesty, I think you’re a great writer. You’re the only person I’m following on wordpress cuz you’re stuff is cute. Have you thought about going into something like that?

  • olletron says:

    Thank you :> Your stuff is equally as cute though! I live in Manchester in the UK so your listings probably wouldn’t be much good : I think a degree would help in terms of networking, but I don’t think it would teach me anything I don’t already know (I hope that doesn’t sound big-headed aaauuu) D:.

  • olletron says:

    WordPress isn’t posting my whole comments for some reason. I also said that I was really thinking of going to art college but wasn’t sure because I have no direction and I don’t know if it would really help me. I actually really did want to go into writing, I was about to go to university to study English but then I realised at the last minute that it wasn’t what I wanted to do at all and dropped out :> I’ve been doing a few things online and enjoyed researching stuff, but I feel like I actually have to get out there and do something now XD

    • Fair Rabbit says:

      Awww Europe. Lucky! America sucks right now lol. And don’t fret. There’s no time limit on knowing what you want to do with your life. Once you find your passion, you’ll know. It’s better to wait than to jump into something now that you’ll eventually hate.
      And you’re right. College didn’t really teach me anything that I couldn’t learn elsewhere for free (or didn’t already know). But it does teach you about the industry, which is nice. *shrugs*

      • olletron says:

        I think I probably will end up going just for something to do ahah :> Europe isn’t great at the moment either D: but I don’t think anywhere is, so it can’t really be helped. I wish I lived in Italy or somewhere like that… the art there is so cool…

  • Matt Hodel says:

    What a great story. I was just thinking this morning about how many great artist are being held back because they choose tattooing. In the art field, you know there are not many jobs that pay well and don’t require a lot of initiative by the artist. In tattooing, once the actual craft is learned and you are a compatiant practioner, you get lazy.

    The is a need to push yourself. An artist has a honest desire to achieve more. You lose that sitting on your ass in a busy street shop.

    To answer your question, yes. Ninety percent of tattooist are ego maniacs. They are unchallenged in almost every way; artistically, philosophically, politically, morally, ect. It drives me crazy. I hate sharing my industry with these spoiled brats.

    I try and keep the integrity and intimacy needed to maintain a loyal clientele. I try to act like a professional in a career that is self appointing. I earned my path. It’s almost 18 years since I started tattooing. A lot has changed. Let them whirl.


  • Brandon s says:

    I am looking for a place to learn how to start, it’s been a dream of mine. I have been drawing ever since I could pick up a pencil. I am in no rush but the people around my area are not what you can call “masters”. Well at least she proved the world wrong and that gives me a little hope.

    • kat says:

      To the person above me looking to get into it – trust me, it’s not worth the work. No matter how much you think it might be, the rewards aren’t worth the stress, low pay, no insurance and no retirement.

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