In a previous blog post I already mentioned that tattoo artists are not a big fan of tattoo schools. This of course has several reasons. Not only will these short courses cost you a whole lot of money, they will give you the illusion that it is safe to open a tattoo shop after 2 weeks or less as a fully-fledged tattoo artist. However, the certificate received at the end of the course is only an unrealistic view of the reality.
I choose not to mention names of such schools in this post, but will base my examples on true offers of these school.
Tattoo schools often offer a combination of courses and workshops, where one is more expensive than the other one. Usually a course lasts for two weeks, in which they ask you a nice sum of money usually between 5000 and 7000 euros to teach you how to tattoo as a pro. Often they also offer material included in the price, how sweet.
Let me start with the material you get offered. The quality of the tattoo machines, power supply, inks, needles etc are essential for the final quality of the tattoo. I have not ever encountered a tattoo school where good material is offered of quality tattoo suppliers. All material is usually purchased for a cheap price in tattoo kits on Amazon or in China, which is not only very beneficial for the tattoo school, but also of extremely poor quality.
That the quality is bad is not your problem, you think, because you have to learn it first before you can start tattooing on customers, right? Unfortunately, that is not entirely true. Poor material can cause you to learn certain techniques in a different and bad way, so that you will eventually make mistake after mistake and this is will be very difficult to unlearn, even if you buy good material afterwards. Not a good idea at all.
So if these kits are actually a cheap purchase for the tattoo school, where does the rest of those 5 to 7 thousand euros go that you put into this course? Hopefully you will become a good tattoo artist?
Let me analyze a random course.
You start with the basis of hygiene (for which you will have to follow a course anyway if you live in Belgium if you really want to start tattooing, here you will have to pay 500 euros for). This part is of course necessary and will, I suppose, give some useful information.
Then you learn everything about tips, grips and needles. First of all, you are dealing with poor material and this will not give you a completely truthful picture of tattoo material, in addition you will learn which needle to use with which technique. And all that in 1 day! Amazing, right! Unfortunately, I can tell you that you first have to try out a bunch of needles and a lot of techniques before you have any idea what you are talking about. Then I’m speaking about months and years instead of one simple day.
You will also learn a bit about skin types, again something that you will only be able to learn by tattooing those different skin types, making mistakes and trying again.
You learn how to hold your machine in a certain way, at a certain angle and at a certain speed. This too, is stupid. Each artist will hold his machine differently and will tattoo in a different way. Learning a certain way will not only slow down your learning process, you will have the feeling that THIS is the technique, and nothing else, while nothing less is true.
Further in the course, in the rest of the 2 weeks, you will of course learn the full art of tattooing. Ask yourself this, if it would be so easy, why would people still make the effort to find a learning place in a tattoo shop and apprentice for months in a row? Simply because it is impossible that you can learn how tattoo after 2 weeks. Nobody, but really nobody will be able to put one line straight and solid after 2 weeks.
In reality, in the first two weeks, if it is not two months or more, you will be struggling and processing personal disappointments and setbacks. The beginning is frustrating and you will have to find full courage every day to get better and try again.
Unless you are too stubborn to see after the 2 weeks course that you are still an unborn sheep in the tattoo world, you will still have to find a place where you can continue to learn. Tattooshops however, are never very excited about learning someone who already went to a tattoo school. Often it takes twice as long to unlearn bad habits instead of immediately learning good habits.
So think twice if you are considering a tattooing course.