Tattoo Apprentice Portfolio Tips | How To Create A Tattoo Portfolio That Will Get You Noticed

Tattoo Apprentice Portfolio Tips
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Creating Your killer tattoo apprentice portfolio

A Tattoo Apprentice portfolio is a display folder containing a carefully selected sample of your drawings, paintings and artwork in order to get a Tattoo Apprenticeship. You want it to show off the very best work that you can do as it’s the key to getting a prospective mentor to take you seriously and offer you a Tattoo Apprenticeship.

If you can walk into their Tattoo Shop and start to show them some amazing artwork you will get their attention. That’s why your portfolio has got to be perfect. It’s got to be powerful and awesome and hit that Tattooist right between the eyes.


It’s got to make them stop for just a second in their busy day and think “It might just be worth giving this person two minutes of my time”.

It’s CRUCIAL to your SUCCESS in landing that apprenticeship. Believe me.

How how do you create this killer portfolio? Here are some pointers.

How to present your Tattoo Apprenticeship Portfolio

Traditionally portfolios were put together in those black folders that contain see-through plastic wallets clipped into a central ring binder. They come in various sizes from A4 (size of a standard sheet of photocopy paper) to A1 (pretty massive).

They are a good standard answer to how to present your work.

View Portfolios on Amazon

Whilst these do a good job of keeping your work safe and look professional, they are a little, how shall we say… BORING!

To win in this game you need to stand out from the crowd (more on this later) so you will do yourself a favour if you find some kind of interesting book or folder to display your work.

You need to think outside the box here. What about a Victorian photo album or a retro scrapbook with an amazing cover. eBay is great for this.

You need to find something that will intrigue the tattooist you go to see and which will draw them into being interested to see more rather than just telling you they are too busy.

My portfolio, when I was looking for an apprenticeship, was contained in a leather-bound retro album which I found on eBay. This was a great talking point when I went to visit Tattooists. You can see some images of this below.

Mini-portfolios. The secret weapon to make sure you get taken seriously

I also made a mini-portfolio to leave with potential mentors which gathered a LOT of interest from Tattooists.

This was my secret weapon to finally land an apprenticeship.

You can read more about how to create a mini-portfolio in this post.

How to get a tattoo apprenticeship – 5 Tips Plus one killer secret to getting your foot in the door

How many pieces should be in a tattoo portfolio?

This is a tricky question and there are lots of different opinions about this.

One post I read actually recommended taking around 200 images!. I think I agree with the advice I was given about preparing a portfolio by my art tutor.

That advice was… Less is More. Quality over Quantity.

You don’t want to bore your prospective mentor to death with pages and pages of mediocre work that go on forever. You don’t want them to be thinking “Oh God. When will this end?

They need to see just enough for you to blow them away with your amazing work. Around 10 HIGH QUALITY and finished pieces are probably enough.

A few well-chosen and awesome pieces of work are far better than hundreds of boring and low-quality ones.

Make sure you show your absolute best work. It should be finished to a high standard. Edit it down till its all amazing. Leave out anything you are unsure about.

What to put in

It goes without saying that this has to be your very best work. Don’t make the mistake of only showing tattoo designs. Tattooist like to see a couple of potential tattoo designs but they really want to see that you can draw across the board. So have a wide variety of work.

For example, a couple of detailed pencil drawings, a watercolour, an ink painting etc as well as your tattoo designs in a couple of different styles (ie Traditional/old school and Black & Grey).

Show you can work across all different media and styles. You are trying to demonstrate FLEXIBILITY and above all show them that you can DRAW.

What to Leave out

Leave out anything you aren’t 100% happy with. Narrow it down to the pieces of work you know are amazing. Get rid of everything else. Don’t include anything that is a copy of anyone else’s work. This needs to all be 100% original.

Do you need an online portfolio?

It’s a good idea to create a website and upload your work there too. That way you can leave business cards with people and have an online source for them to check out your work if they are interested. You can easily create a web presence for free and it doesn’t need to be complicated.

Make sure it looks good though and doesn’t look like something your ten-year-old brother built. Spend a bit of time on it. Buy your own domain name. This will come in handy when you are a tattooist and need to put your latest work online and attract clients so it’s worth starting now.

Make sure you have a great Social Media Presence. Instagram and Facebook are great places for Tattooists. That way, when you do finally learn to Tattoo you will have fans wanting to book in with you.

5 portfolio tips to get a Tattoo Apprenticeship.

In summary, here are 5 tips that will help you land an apprenticeship with your Tattoo Apprentice Portfolio

1  | Don’t take sketchbooks

Make sure you only take finished and finalised artwork. Don’t take unfinished work or sketchbooks. 

2 | Show Tattoo-able Designs

Make sure that you include work that will work as tattoos. You need to demonstrate to a potential employer that you will be able to design and complete tattoos {to make them money!}. Make sure that you have some tattoo-able designs amongst the work you show.

3 | Show a wide variety of styles

Make sure you show a wide range of different styles and types of drawing and designs.

I had someone come to see me with a portfolio which consisted entirely of Mandalas. They were beautifully designed, but that was all they had to show. Pages and pages of Mandalas. Needless to say, this person didn’t get an apprenticeship.

4 | Don’t be boring

As mentioned above, there are many different ways that you can present your work. Show it in a way that stands out. Look for different folders or books as a way to present your work and stand out from the crowd.

5 | Don’t show any tattoos you may have done.

If you have done any tattoos on friends, you really SHOULDNT show these to any potential mentor. You will immediately be shown the door if you do this. Just don’t go there. 

I hope this has given you some fresh ideas as to how to present work in your apprentice portfolio. 

You might like this post too for some further ideas on how to get a Tattoo Apprenticeship

How to get a tattoo apprenticeship – 5 Tips Plus one killer secret to getting your foot in the door

Can anyone learn to tattoo? The 5 Most important questions you need to ask yourself

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