Evolved Tattoo Apprenticeship Curriculum


The information in each stage is not necessarily in chronological order. It will be presented little by little in context to the daily routines.  This curriculum is not designed for independent study. It is imperative that it is studied under the guidance of a trained, experienced professional tattooer.

*Each stage must be thoroughly completed before progressing to the next level.

**Previous stages must be continued efficiently throughout progression!

***The duration of stages will vary according to each apprentice’s individual proficiency and motivation. 


-CPR, First Aid, and Blood Borne Pathogens and Principles of Infection Control certificates
-Hep B shots and/or a serological test (titer test)
-Personal Statement, “Why do you want to tattoo?” (1pg) “Why did you choose Evolved?” (1pg)
-Read: “Modern Primitives” and write a response to each article.
-Watch: “Stoney Knows How” and “Color Outside the Lines” then write a response to each.
-Research and write about 10 favorite tattooers.
-Present a portfolio consisting of your own drawings, artwork, sketches or any other materials to support your artistic journeys.
-Take and pass the following tests: FOH, Jewelry, Tattoo, Piercing, Booking


-How and when to wash hands
-How and when to use hand sanitizer
-Keep fingernails short and clean
-How to protect cuts, hangnails, and non-intact skin
-What is non-intact skin and how to cover it
-Keep hair pulled back
-How and when to use hand lotion
-What is a biohazard
-Designate biohazard areas
-What is cross contamination
-What are universal precautions and standard precautions
-Explain hepatitis, HIV, and other risks
-How to don and remove gloves
-One-handed technique
-How to open a clean field
-Read and initial exposure control plan and needle stick procedure
-Integrator vs. indicator
-Spore tests – when, why, with who, and what to do if the test fails
-Observe and make notes regarding how all of the policies and procedures are followed and which ones need improved

-Cleaning bathrooms
-Counter tops
-Changing garbage bags
-Restocking – cups, water, paper towels, toilet paper, tampons, poo pourri, etc.
-Learn how to maintain the Hepa Filter, HVAC filter, and Distiller
-Learn to watch for cross contamination in lobby and how to handle it
-Learn what a disinfectant is and how/when to use it
-Learn to prep and restock a tattoo station

Customer Service:
-Greeting customers – to relax and address fears
-Answering telephone and chat box – FAQs
-Learn register – receipts, ring in, and void out
-Credit card machine
-Learn to explain aftercare
-Begin learning to address problems in aftercare
-Read, know, and be able to explain all customer release forms
-Learn how to address all tattoo-related customer issues – text, white tattoos, hand/foot tattoos, size/detail/aging, sunlight, body design/location/size/fitting, etc. Know when it’s appropriate for you to answer these questions and when it’s time to refer the client to an experienced tattooer
-Learn to give shop tours

Written documentation/ readings:
-Start a personal file for the shop
-Read, know, and be able to explain all customer release forms
-Read and initial all state required literature, safety procedures, laws, manuals, policies, procedures, and equipment manuals
-Read labels and record observation of MSDSs for everything in the shop
-Record homework assignments
-Start a journal to record notes, observations, and questions
-Start promoting the shop – web, submissions, fliers, radio, business cards, social media, etc.
-Begin side readings and responses to research on history of tattooing, tattoo publications, and tattoo websites: Machine Gun magazine, Tattoo Artist Magazine, etc.

-Start a sketchbook. Draw and sketch as much as possible. These sketches will eventually go on your 5 page set of flash.
-Practice lettering – Tracing and custom
-Meet with another tattooer at least once a week to show and discuss your work


Safety/ Hygiene:
-Learn the history and contemporary context of the pros/cons of disposable tubes and steel (reused) tubes. Include the many options of steel-tipped disposables/ disposable tip only etc. and their perceived benefits. One piece tubes vs. multiple piece tubes
-Get familiarized with the biohazard work areas
-Learn how to use/clean autoclave/Omni Flush
-Learn how to use/maintain the Statim and its cassettes
-Write out step by step procedure on how to change a sharps container. Begin changing sharps containers under observation
-Know about the biohazard pickup/ drop-off
-Learn the use of the Autoclave and keeping logs
-Learn to flush and maintain autoclave
-Learn to conduct spore tests
-Aprons, sleeves, masks, and goggles
-Start to learn cleaning and disinfecting
-Know the use of all chemicals
-Know how to detail the tattoo stations
-Know how to complete the tattooer’s daily checklist

Observations, Set-ups, Break-downs and Stencils
-Watch and observe basic tattoos. Keep notes and ask questions after the client leaves
-Learn to explain and show everything you do during set-up and break-down. Write out a detailed description.
-Write out step by step procedure on how to prepare and apply stencils to the body. Begin performing the procedure under observation.
-Write out step by step procedure on how to set-up and break-down for a tattoo. Begin performing set-ups and break-downs under observation. 

Written documentation/ readings:
-Rewrite/update all procedures
-Make sure that new colleagues/guest artists are following procedures
-Make a list of notes/questions on any difficulties with these processes 

Tattoo Supplies and Promotion:
-Learn products/companies, keep log of who uses what and why
-Learn to place orders
-Obtain all equipment and supplies you will need (machines, power unit, needles, tubes, inks, clipcord, footswitch, etc.)
-Create self promotion materials (business cards, fliers, social media accounts, etc.)

-Lay out a 5 page set of flash in pencils using ideas from your sketchbook. 11” x 14”
-Continue working with lettering – Tracing and custom
-Meet with another tattooer at least once a week to show and discuss your work
-Decide what medium and canvas you are going to use to finish your set of flash
-Design and finish a page of flash with simple, small, black designs for your clients to choose from



Safety /Hygiene:
-Make sure that any new colleagues and guest artists are following policies and procedures

Basic Tattooing:
-Purchase and practice tattooing on fake skin
-Perform small tattoos on friends under observation.  Always check with another tattooer before scheduling or doing a tattoo.
-Get a photo of every tattoo, and a healed photo whenever possible (learn to use camera: lighting, healed pieces vs. fresh, online vs. print)
-Meet with a tattooer and discuss each tattoo you do:
-Differences between a fresh tattoo and a healed tattoo
-Learn about the various problems that can occur with tattoos. Such as blowouts, color not holding/patchy color, scarring, overworking, etc.
-Needle depth
-Tattooing on different areas of the body and the difficulty of each area
-Tattooing on different types and tones of skin
-Stretching skin
-Touch-ups and ways to avoid touch-ups in future tattoos
-Keep notes on tattoos – thoughts/results/observations/problems
-Make contact with other professional tattooers
-Trade information on techniques, aftercare ideas
-Start a hard and digital portfolio 

Tattoo Machines, Tubes and Needles:
-Study machines and machine parts. Know and be able to explain how a tattoo machine works and the necessity of each of the various parts
-Study and know the various parts involved in the operation of a machine, and their effect on the machine: tubes, needles, pigments, power supplies, clip cords, RCA jacks, foot switches, clip cord sleeves, machine bags, etc.
-Learn how, and show that you can assemble and disassemble different tattoo machines
-Learn the basic methods of proper machine maintenance, including tuning, spring type/tension, throw, alignment, cleaning, etc.
-Learn the possible differences between liners and shaders, different frame materials, coils, etc.
-Learn the differences between Rotary machines, Traditional machines, etc.
-Know and be able to explain the differences between a properly made and functioning machine and a poor one
-Learn the effects different tubes have on the performance of machines. Steel vs. plastic
-Learn needle composition: type (standard, bugpin), taper (long, short), material (stainless steel, textured), groupings (tight, loose, mag, curved mag, etc.)
-Understand and be able to explain needle position and depth in relation to skin for lining, fill, shading etc. 

Bedside Manners:
-Learn ways to keep the client relaxed and comfortable
-Be able to answer any and all questions regarding set-up, break down, and the procedure itself
-What to do if a client is feeling faint or nauseous
-Learn the best position for the client depending on the area being tattooed
-Learn how to explain aftercare, and problem-solve any issues which may arise with a healing tattoo

-Complete a fully finished and rendered study for every tattoo you do, including a line drawing
-Continue meeting with a tattooer at least once a week. Review your drawings/ideas for upcoming tattoos, notes on previous tattoos, and your portfolio of previous tattoos
-Line and shade each page of flash with a permanent medium
-Continue working with lettering – Tracing and custom
-Have a good understanding by now of Photoshop/Procreate for editing/resizing/graphic element addition (name in photo or “in progress”) and resolution. Learn the advantages of using these to design certain aspects of tattoos. (curving letters, creating an outline, etc.)



Safety /Hygiene:
-Make sure that any new colleagues and guest artists are following policies and procedures

Intermediate Tattooing:
-Perform unobserved, half-price tattoos on friends
-Continue meeting with a tattooer and discussing each tattoo
-Continue discussing basic tattooing subjects
-Discuss intermediate level tattooing subjects:
-Pricing tattoos (hourly and per piece)
-Time it takes to complete a tattoo (single session, multiple session)
-When is the right time to take on larger work
-How to treat clients with respect and gain their respect
-Custom tattoos vs. Walk-ins
-Time management, scheduling appointments, having drawing ready, being prepared, deposits, etc.
-Continue recording own tattoos – thoughts/results/observations/problems

-Add color and complete set of flash
-Continue working with lettering – Tracing and custom
-Complete a fully finished and rendered study for every tattoo you do, including a line drawing.
-Continue meeting with a tattooer at least once a week. Review your drawings/ideas for upcoming tattoos, notes on previous tattoos, and your portfolio of previous tattoos



-Continue tattooing, drawing and expanding your knowledge of tattooing
-Finish your professional portfolio
-Get interviewed about your experiences (local paper, school reports, magazines, web, social media)
-Continue your education as both you and the industry progress
-Stay focused, friendly, and humble.