What is a tattoo apprentice portfolio?
A portfolio for a tattoo apprenticeship is a carefully selected collection of your artwork, with a very particular purpose – showing your artistic potential to become a successful tattoo artist.
I stress the word “potential” because this is an application for professional training, not a visual résumé to get a job.
You are not yet qualified for the job itself, and you should be worth the time and effort invested in teaching you.
I hope the required humbleness comes across here, guys.
Your Artistic Education
So you’d think the first thing you should be doing if you want to get a tattoo apprenticeship is create an art portfolio showcasing your technical abilities and style.
But wait a minute. Or an art degree. Or at least a bunch of drawing classes.
Educate yourself artistically because that’s what makes the difference between a childish doodle and an aesthetically pleasing piece of art.
Learn color theory, value, hue and saturation; study how the light defines objects in space, composition, dynamics, anatomy. Sounds heavy? well, those are FUNDAMENTALS.
It doesn’t matter how talented you are if your technique is lacking.
So first, let’s make friends with the concept of The Reference.
THE REFERENCE – a study, not a copyright violation
Yes, you may be a creativity animal, your ideas may be wild and original, but if you cannot convey them in a way they will be understood correctly, i.e. press the right emotional buttons in the viewer, then they haven’t got a way out, they remain locked inside your mind.
Bad art can ruin good ideas.
So look up for references:
For the image below (work-in-progress!) I looked up the anatomy of a raven’s skull, the berries, the rose’s texture etc. It is far from perfect proportion-wise but I had no idea what a raven’s skull looked like before this drawing.
I thought I remember how blackberries look and I realized I had no idea of their structure when I tried to recreate them out of memory.
Technique and Creativity – the intimate dance
What should the perfect portfolio include?
In two words: technique and creativity, both wrapped up in a presentation or display that conveys a tattooing concept/style and introduces YOU (We’ll get to the casing and presentation next time).
An impressive portfolio can take up to a few months if you really put the time and thought into it.
Your portfolio should be showcasing traditionally laid out tattoo flash sheets – meaning you’re familiar with the format, with what’s popular/trendy and you can pull it off (i.e. popular motifs like dream-catchers, mandalas, roses, skulls, etc); whatever you like as long as it’s in YOUR style of drawing (e.g. realism, newschool, dotwork, watercolor, etc) and not copied.
Show different art mediums you like (and know how) to work with, (watercolors, color pencils, ink, graphite, etc).
Besides the visual effect of mastering a technique, it also shows you have put the time and effort to master it, so you have perseverance, patience and motivation, which are essential for a tattoo apprentice.
But the most important part of your portfolio should be showcasing YOUR art; what you draw for yourself, what you would like to tattoo someday. This second part of your portfolio should have no imitated ideas but only your own with the unique mark that YOU make; this part should be enhanced and emphasized.
If your sketchbook is something to look at, you can attach it to your portfolio as a bonus: a peek into your doodles.
- Remember: TALENT= mastered technique + creativity
But a successful tattoo artist is the one with the talent package AND the good communication skills, so don’t send all of this by email!
Show up there and make friends :)An apprenticeship is an intense and demanding process which takes at least a couple of years, and that makes it a relationship between you and your mentor and the rest of the staff at the shop, so be nice to be with.
Come on, put up your artwork in the group forum! JOIN HERE.
Love and Ink,