Alan Morrell, Special to the Democrat and Chronicle Published 4:39 a.m. ET May 24, 2021
A Vermont tattoo artist is offering a free service to people who want to remove hateful skin art by erasing or covering up offensive images. (June 25) AP Domestic
Tattoo artists use needles and pigments to apply permanent designs to a clients body, by injecting ink under a layer of skin. The job involves scheduling appointments and discussing pricing and advising clients on the size of the tattoo, suitable placement and more.
Artists spend a lot of time with the prep work and have to maintain strict sanitation rules. We were wearing masks before COVID hit, said Joseph DiProjetto, who owns Love Hate Tattoo on State Street in Rochester.
Simple tattoos might take an hour or so. DiProjetto said his longest job took 20 hours. As for artistic preparation, DiProjetto said I go to bed drawing. When I wake up, I finish what Im drawing. Theres a lot of research and composition (work) for body placement.
You might think artistic flair would be needed. DiProjetto said not necessarily. If you dont have the skills, you have to have the ability to be trained, he said. You have to be good with people. This is a people job.
DiProjetto said he prefers to hire would-be tattoo artists who have not done tattoos previously. He said artists have to be neat and clean and be flexible with clients. Some just want to do their own art, and thats frustrating, DiProjetto said. You have to give the customers what they want.
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For starters, would-be tattoo artists should have tattoos of their own, DiProjetto said. Show me some kind of art and let me know what makes you want to put permanent stuff on people, he said.
The best way to get started, he said, is through an apprenticeship. This is a trade think of it like being a mason or an electrician. If I like you, Ill offer you an apprenticeship.
There are some tattoo-artist schools out there, but DiProjetto said that background isnt needed. Most tattoo artists, this is a lifestyle, its not like a job, he said.
Nathan Kendall has a tattoo of a Felco No. 6 pruning shear.(Photo: Max Schulte / Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
The amount varies greatly, depending on experience, talent and reputation and, of course, the number of customers. (In New York state, the minimum age to get a tattoo is 18.)
New artists might expect to make between $20,000 and $40,000 annually, DiProjetto said As long as youre not hit with a pandemic. Love Hate Tattoo was forced to close for several months in 2020 after the Coronavirus struck. For experienced artists, DiProjetto said, Im sure there are (some) who are making six figures.
Government agencies offer little guidance regarding salaries specifically for tattoo artists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median salary for craft and fine artists is about $49,000, but that includes a wide variety of occupations.
Again, this is hard to calculate. For craft and fine artists, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states employment growth for artists depends largely on the overall state of the economy and whether people are willing to spend money on art. DiProjetto said demand for tattoos has been steady but said the profession is like a roller coaster, with peaks and valleys.
I have three grandkids who wonder why theyre not tattooed, DiProjetto said with a laugh. Everyone in the family is tattooed. (The grandchildren) think youre born with tattoos.
DiProjetto said the best place to learn is through tattoo artists. One website he suggested is https://tattoos.com
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Alan Morrell is a Rochester-based freelance writer.
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