Triplesix is recognised internationally as an award winning tattoo studio founded by the Richard Beston (or 'Bez') - a highly respected artists and product designer within the tattoo community. In addition to his prolific tattoo ability, Bez has created tattoo education DVD's, and his own tattoo machine product machine titled 'ego'. The studio hosts an array of high quality permanent artists, each with their own specialism, and regularly invites both international and national guest artists to tattoo in the additional booths that are available. In short, with the combined years of experience from all potential mentors employed, and the oversight of an innovator within the field, Triplesix seems the perfect studio in which to gain a high-quality apprenticeship and introduction to the tattoo industry.
My apprenticeship began on the 19th of May, and my initial introduction into the studio mainly involved gaining an understanding of the booking system for appointments, shadowing artists while asking questions about their processes, and ensuring high standards of hygiene (or less formally articulated - cleaning). Though still in the early stages of the apprenticeship at the time of writing, it feels fair to suggest through retrospective evaluation that the first month is about demonstrating a sincere and authentic desire to learn about the discipline. This is achieved through a combination of positive attitude, willingness to learn, and evidence of appreciation of the rare opportunity that has been given.
A few examples of the not particularly creatively stimulating, yet necessary tasks include tearing rolls of kitchen towels into individual sheets that are used during the tattoo process to wipe away blood etc from the tattooed areas, deep cleaning artists booths - including the underside of the tattoo beds and inside drawers etc (which often have very stubborn ink stains), and sanitising the walls and floor with alcohol wipes and dettol fluid, going to the shop to stock up on baby wipes, cling film, vaseline, etc. Though these tasks may appear menial and not directly relevant to my career as a tattooist, they serve as a demonstration of my willingness to be in the studio, and my intuitive understanding when of the practise of good hygiene - both of which are integral traits of a tattoo studio that are perhaps valued higher at the early stages of an apprenticeship than actual ability. I personally regard it as a justifiable form of payment to the studio for the education which i will be given, that will result in my career stability and artistic progress generally. When compared to the accumulated debt typically incurred through academic education, cleaning toilets for a few months is not too high of a price to pay.
In addition to the less glamorous admin and hygiene tasks undertaken, shadowing artists and asking questions about their process is also a crucial aspect of the apprenticeship. As mentioned, Triplesix hosts a number of high quality artists with their own specialisms, who all work in unique ways. While initially I found the lack of certainty of structure intimidating in it's ambiguity, I came to recognise it as a liberating insight into how open-ended the discipline can be, and what can be offered from various technical approaches. Having come from a background where i have some experience working professionally as an illustrator and teaching Illustration and Design to undergraduate students, i thought that i may in an advantageous position through experience, however the level of expertise amongst me made it apparent that i am only in the very early stages of my career as a visual artist/designer.
This blog will aim to record my journey from apprentice through to tattooist, commenting on any inspirations, observations, questions, and findings that occur in the process. In addition to my apprenticeship, from October 2017 i will be undergoing part-time PhD research that investigates how multidisciplinary design process and cross-cultural influences may enrich contemporary tattooing and demonstrate it's relevance as a design discipline in the wider design and art community. The blog will also offer a platform to express my research journey and unite my academic and creative practice.
Illustrator, Tattoo Apprentice, and PhD Research Student.