I’m writing today to let you know a little more about our ideas for this program as well as some of the details regarding how we plan to proceed. The concept for this has been forming in my mind for several years. I had a client years ago that told me about how many of the world’s most promising chefs are invited into work in Michelin Star French kitchens for advanced training internships. In the culinary world this is called a “stage” from the French word “Stagiaire”. The chef I was tattooing at the time was applying to “stage” at one of the most reputable fine-dining restaurants in France. Even though he was already head chef at the restaurant he worked at, he knew that taking this 3 month journey to Paris would alter the course of his future.
This idea really affected me. Before I had my own family and the responsibility that comes with owning and operating two businesses, I would have jumped at this sort of opportunity. Wishing that tattooing offered something like this to further the development of the most promising candidates, I felt drawn to try to map it out myself. To date, we’ve had 3 artists spend this 3 month period with us. One of them, Megan Carroll, just accepted our offer to become a permanent resident artist at Ink & Dagger. The other two are back home working at their respective studios and have become lifetime members of our Ink & Dagger extended family.
During their time at our studio, temporary resident artists are treated as Ink & Dagger residents in every respect. We promote them and suggest them to clientele who have requests that match their style. I aim to be a positive and inspiring mentor to all of the artists at the studio, it’s a fact of working with me, and it’s unavoidable. If I spot something that I think can improve a design or tattoo that’s leaving with the Ink & Dagger name on it, I speak my mind (behind the scenes). This demanding environment is only for those who are constantly pushing themselves and value the experience and insights of the artists around them.
Our shop is fairly large with a space that contains three waiting areas, two drawing rooms with reference book libraries, and thirteen total stations including four private tattoo rooms. This environment assures that there is a constant level of activity with artists creating amazing tattoos in a range of styles. The shop’s location in Roswell, Georgia is a short drive away from Atlanta, a city with a vibrant arts scene and event calendar, many metro “neighborhoods,” each with its own identity and vibe, and a range of outdoorsy opportunities inside and just outside of the city. A bridge between the grit of the city and the sprawling, affluent suburban areas to the north of the city, Roswell represents the edge of the expanding bubble of Atlanta’s massive population.
An unavoidable reality while working at Ink & Dagger is our shop’s widespread adoption of digital design technology. My other company, Tattoo Smart (@tattoosmart, www.tattoosmart.com) is leading the way in methods and tools to design tattoos digitally. While our temporary residents are within our walls, they are invited in for a daily inside look at the process of creating and using these incredible tools. If you’re interested in traditional art media too, we’d love to take advantage of downtime or schedule some time after hours to get together and work on watercolor paintings or upcoming tattoo designs.
It’s hard to define exactly what I’m looking for in a candidate, but I foresee a successful candidate having some or all of the following qualities:
- You have likely been tattooing professionally between 4 to 7 years.
- You have a strong understanding of tattoo application and design fundamentals, including clean line work and knowledge of the accepted conventions of when and how to use lines. I’m looking for solid color application with smooth color transitions. I’m looking for smooth black and gray realism with clear and focused areas of precise detail balanced with strong silhouettes.
- Your portfolio indicates a refined understanding of composition theory.
- You have begun to venture into exploring a direction that establishes your own unique tattoo style.
- You have an active and engaged social media presence that compliments your tattoo style and informs your personal aesthetic.
We are already a diverse group with a range of age, gender, and identity. We are looking for candidates that complement and broaden the stylistic range of our studio, and who can bring new perspectives to the team, not necessarily more of what we’re already doing so well.
If reading this has inspired you, and you would like to get on our radar for upcoming temporary residency spaces, please start the conversation by sending me (@russabbott) a Direct Message (DM) on Instagram. If you have already reached out, please understand that only a select few are going to receive a response from me for further conversations about the program. As much as I may want to, time simply won’t allow me to respond to each of you as thoughtfully as I would like to. If you don’t hear back, it generally means that I wasn’t able to connect with something in your work that struck a chord with me. This is such a limited offering, I have to be selective and rigid in my treatment of this. Don’t be discouraged, just keep moving ahead and pushing yourself in other ways. Don’t hesitate to reach back out in a year and see if things have changed.
To my peers who may be interested in taking some inspiration from this idea and forming similar programs of your own, I fully support your efforts. I believe that those of us that have some knowledge to contribute to the advancement of our craft, if they desire to do so, should proceed with a thoughtful and ethical mindset to mentor and apprentice those who demonstrate the character and skill set that represents the best that tattooing has to offer.
Ink & Dagger Tattoo
Roswell, Georgia USA