Dear Tattooist: When did you know?

This post was prompted from a question asked by John in my last post:

When did you know you wanted to be a tattoo artist?

Only about 5 years ago, actually. And it was more because of something that resulted as a question from someone to me along the lines of “Why aren’t you a tattooist?” rather than a “Hey, I want to be a tattooist when I grow up!” sort of thing.

Time for an Erik history lesson.

I used to do a lot of art-related stuffs when I was younger, but it was more a creative hobby than something I thought anyone could ever make money to live. I would build extremely detailed plastic models; oil painting; pen and ink drawing; modeling and firing clay; random collages made from all sorts of stuffs; photography; and all sorts of other bizarre stuff that one might attribute to “art”.

My parents my art talents, but only as a hobby and not something I should do as a career. So when it came time for college, I put my art stuff aside. I ended up with a BA in Social Science and was going to teach History to high school students. After I graduated, I realized I no longer wanted to be in school. I eventually ended up in the computer field.

I left the computer field the first time to help the Husbear run the hair and tanning salon we had opened. When we could finally afford to hire employees, I went to school to become a massage therapist. After getting my license, I did that for about a year before I became completely bored with it. Mind numbing for me it was.

So I went back into the computer field. In that time, I had started getting more tattoo work done (after nearly 10 years since my first one!). People who knew me knew I was artistic. It took someone asking me why I wasn’t a tattooist before I got the notion to do it.

“Huh!”, I thought.

So I looked into what it would take in the great state of Arkansas to become a tattooist. The main route involved apprenticing under a tattooist at a shop, which required a whole lot of money to do. (Shops at that time were charging roughly $10,000 to apprentice, and all your tattoo income went to the shop. And no guarantee that you would be allowed to complete your apprenticeship!) So I went a different route: With the help of the [She Who Shall Not Be Named, At Her Request], I opened up a tattoo studio first. In exchange for her mastering me in the tattoo arts, I would give her free booth rent for a duration.

I earned my license in June 2006. I tattooed part-time in the evenings after my 45+ hours-a-week day job, and on the weekends. That got… old. So finally in June 2009, I left the security of my computer gig to tattoo full-time, and I haven’t looked back since.

I love it. I get to meet the full gamut of the population, AND they pay me to inflict pain on them! And I get to create art. Permanent art.

Me at work, which really isn’t “work”, tattooing Joseph.

Updated 2012.04.02

Until next time...

2 thoughts on “Dear Tattooist: When did you know?

  1. I decided to do a rose tattoo in memory of my mom. If I was closer, I’d love to have you do the design and work.

    If I get a wild hair and some extra travel funds, I just might make it out that way.

    Be well, you.

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