No one wants to be an aspiring tattoo artist’s first job. (Just ask that guy that got tied up in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.) But tattoo artists have to start somewhere, and a new series on TLC illustrates just where, for one group, the needle first meets skin. Tattoo School premieres tonight at 10pm ET/PT, and is set in the renowned World’s Only Tattoo School in Shreveport, La., where students undergo a two-week intensive course to learn and hone the craft of tattooing.
At the center of Tattoo School is Dr. Bill Pogue, who, with his 38 years of teaching experience, instructs his students, who come from an array of backgrounds and who have wide-ranging aspirations for the skills they’re trying to acquire. Some, not surprisingly, hope to effect a career change — still a major motivator in our slow-to-recover economy. Others cultivate their interest in the art because they feel they have a hidden talent that they want to grow. In some cases, the chance to study with Pogue represents a chance at a new life, a way out of a past based on bad decisions. Whatever their background, they’re the raw material that Pogue has to work with and to try to imbue with the knowledge, skills and experience to break into the ever-more-competitive tattoo industry.
The drama of Tattoo School is in the “real world” challenges set up as part of the students’ curriculum. They’re each tested on three hypothetical situations in which they find themselves as working tattoo artists. The challenges are designed to test the individual skills and techniques necessary to succeeding in the business. From initial sketching to inking a VIP client, these students will face it all, and the one who comes out on top — the valedictorian at graduation, the student with the best final, original tattoo — receives a golden tattoo gun that will serve him or her well throughout the artist’s entire career.
Doesn’t that make you want to roll up your sleeve?