So You Want to Tattoo

Have you ever had a teacher (or parent) tell you all the things you’re not going to be, you know: you’re not going to be the next best thing...if you want to be on TV, that’s stupid...good luck with that, because that’s impossible.  I’m not going to tell you that you can’t be anything you desire to be, but I will give you some inside life of witnessing, and being a tattoo artist.

Everyone is different.  Every ones daily lives differ enormously.  Mine is very different than everyone else's, though I feel there are some similarities when it comes to tattooing.  And of course, there are some ideals that have influenced my daily life and how I now aim to treat each day.  Can we break it down? Lets…

Mark's Booth

Mark's Booth



Your New Home

Um, forget you had a life before, because the shop is your new home.  This is where I eat, work, play and build relationships.  Every new person I meet will discover that the shop is me, and I am the shop (or, at least part of it), and they should come by and say hello.  Home is where the heart is, right?  Everyone in the shop is like family (or should be).  Even when they do things you dislike, you still have a place in your heart where you can see where they’re coming from.  But is business, and if someone crosses the line, whatever that may be,  that relationship can be very easily damaged and broken...permanently.  No disrespect allowed.


Respect your elders

This goes for all parts of life.  Always respect your elders.  Just the other day, an older lady with a walking cane and a bunch of awesome buttons on her hat came into the shop.  She asked a question about a tattoo.  She clearly wasn’t really interested in getting a tattoo, so Mark offered her a seat in his booth, and she sat down and talked about her entire life to him, while he patiently listened for 2 hours.  I’m going to be honest, I was on the other side of the half wall pulling my hair out.  She stayed until an hour past closing time, until Mark politely told her that he had to close shop.

In tattooing, your elders are people who have been tattooing longer than you.  Even if you proceed them skill wise, you still don’t disrespect them.  Even if they weren’t your mentor directly, they still taught you some things.  I have a long way to go in the tattooing world.  It’s a difficult tightrope for myself, because I’m shop owner, and the least experienced with tattooing in the shop.  Everyday I compare my measly two years to everyone else's six to eleven years experience (thankfully the other owner is eleven years experienced).  The tattoos I do get to do, are judged, of course.  

My booth.

My booth.


Apprenticeships should be real

My apprenticeship was very un-traditional and took place at different locations over the span of  five years.  It’s different everywhere you go.  Some places have stricter laws than others.  Here in Louisville, an apprenticeship isn’t ‘required’.  Which is ridiculous to me.  

The apprenticeship is meant to break your ego down, and build you as an artist who inks skin.  That’s a certain skill that takes a ton of discipline.  The amount of ego some have to refuse or discredit an apprenticeship is insulting to the craft.  What long time craft do you know of that doesn’t require some type of apprenticeship?  None.  You can’t teach an intricate art in a matter of days, it’s going to take years.  This particular craft also requires you to converse with strangers, something a lot of people have trouble with—another element to learn during apprenticeship.

Some mentors choose to make apprenticeships living hell, others wish to just teach.  


Don’t Scratch

If you can help it, don’t do it.  Whoa, the amount of scratchers, or people who call themselves professionals that tattoo in the kitchen or bedroom, or wherever, is insane.  Some feel they have to take this route, which is really none of my business, but it is looked down upon.  Why?  Because when clients get tattooed at their cousins, or uncle-friends house for cheap, they expect every other place to be cheap too.  They want their very badly healed, or disappearing tattoo to be ‘fixed’.  Okay cool, but when you tell them how much that will cost, they decide to go back to their cousin or uncle-friend.  All a sudden the price becomes more important than good quality work.  

Not to mention getting tattooed in someone's house is unsanitary.  Don’t do it.  Don’t walk around with a blotchy, infected or fading tattoo you’re probably going to regret for the rest of your life.

This isn’t to say that every artist in a shop knows how to tattoo, there’s some out there who are not doing the best work, but still work in a shop.  Better do your research.


Things to use, everyday

I put these elements into my life everyday.  I do my art at work, like all fine artists, you can produce your best art at the studio, and you designate certain hours everyday to it.  I respect those around me that have more experience, and my home is the shop.  Everyone that walks in is expected to respect the space.  


So you want to be a tattoo artist?  

We currently have 1 space open.

Feel free to email us your work at:

Or, stop by the shop during business hours at 423 West Chestnut Street 40202


With Love,

Doree x DORK