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Portfolio building

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  • Portfolio building

    Hey everyone first of all there's a lot of amazing artists on this forum.

    I'm done commissions in the past and a few random giveaways but i've never actually done up a professional portfolio.

    I recently decided to stop into a tattoo shop in my hometown and asked about an apprentice ship, i was told to drop off a portfolio complete with a resume and if/when an apprenticeship should open i would be considered (was told it could be a minimum of a year b4 one was available)

    Any tips on how to put together a good looking portfolio that anyone has would be appreciated.


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  • #2
    • Only put in work you've done in the past six months.
    • Put your second best work first.
    • Put your best work last, because you're portfolio will remain open on that page if they talk to you.
    • 12 to 15 pieces will be emough.
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    • #3
      Hi Jandj,

      I'm interested in building a portfolio for a tattoo apprenticeship too but you need to be mindful of a few things. Know the tattooist you are hoping to apprentice under and know what style they use. By this, I mean do they specialize in black and grey, are they new school tattoo artists, are they American traditional, Japanese influenced, etc?

      I would say do two of each in your own work, black and grey portrait, American traditional, Japanese, New School and lettering.
      The portfolio should show that you have what it takes to be apprentice and are willing to put hard work in.

      Build the portfolio based on what you'll be expected to do often. In that way the portfolio serves you, the client and your employer. So study a lot of tattoo flash. You'll be drawing roses, hour glasses, skulls, birds, etc. Put your own spin on things unless it's American traditional and Japanese because they adhere to certain rules.

      You should actually post your work for critique to get a gauge on how a tattooer may perceive your work. I've seen tattooers who are incredible artists working with a range of mediums.

      If you aren't rockin' any tattoos then it's the perfect opportunity to get something from the place you want to apprentice at. Build a relationship with the person. I think they asked for your resume to see how long you've held jobs for. I hope a tattooer on this forum can add or correct me.

      There is so much information online but check out the Tattoo Book - Tattoo Prodigies 1 and 2 at the book store. That showcases some of the best tattoo artists in the world and will provide inspiration on your way to creating a portfolio.

      Best of luck.


      • #4
        I work as a tattooer and everything DRI said is totally on point! I was able to get my 'foot in the door' because I had a portfolio set up for review at NYCC 2012 and shortly after the show I saw that a shop that I had been worked on before was looking for either a new tattoo artist or take on an apprentice. Since I had gotten tattooed there a few times before, the guy who was looking to take an apprentice recognized me, which was a huge plus. Also since I had my work ripped apart by pro-artists all summer hitting conventions prepping for NYCC, then showing my art to a local tattooer I wasn't nervous and making excuses like "oh that's not my best" "I just threw that in there to fill space" "Thats from 3 years ago" etc. They were looking into taking on more people who had more hands on experience so I was on the bottom of the ladder, but I stuck it out and everyone else who had already been tattooing flaked out and I earned my place there.

        Now back to the portfolio: Show completed work! No one wants to see sketches and doodles (unless they ask to see a sketchbook which happens), everyone can sketch and doodle but completing and refining works of art takes a lot of patience and disciple which will prove that will have what it takes to do a lot of small tattoos in a day, with out getting burnt out. Good luck and feel free to DM me if you have another questions.
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