Axel Zaminga talks about the old-school way of a tattoo apprenticeship

Axel Zaminga is an Italian tattoo artist with a focus on old-school and Japanese tattoos. During the Brugge Tattoo convention we had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about apprenticeships. Here’s what he had to say.

man with glasses holding an old-school artwork

His own apprenticeship

Axel himself has been in the industry for over 20 years now! If we do some quick maths, we can quickly realize that he went through his apprenticeship when the times were tougher.

Times were tougher, mostly because so were the tattoo apprenticeships. Back then, a lot of the tattoo mentors would have a ‘tough love’ approach to their teaching methods and apprentices would often have to ‘lick’ their mentors’ a**es. Not only that, but you’d have to basically move in the shop, because of the amount of crazy work they would give you. And let’s not forget the occasional hazing.

Either way, Axel wasn’t as specific, but he told us his apprenticeship journey was rough and very frustrating. Although he confesses that on one hand it was good for him, because it made him tougher and stronger, he doesn’t think it’s the best approach when it comes to teaching an apprentice.

His approach

This is why Axel takes on a moral teaching approach while still showing his apprentices the ancient techniques.

He doesn’t like a long working day, so he isn’t going to put his apprentices through that either. Axel really wants them to be appreciative of the work they get to do, instead of dreading going to the shop.

How Axel chooses his apprentices

Choosing an apprentice isn’t something tattoo mentors should take lightly, and they don’t.

Axel Zaminga first of all, listens to everyone that approaches him. There are a few things he looks out for, namely: their work and their point of view/mindset.

He wants to be a teacher to someone of the same mindset, the same spiritual point of view. For those of us amongst all the readers that are also spiritual, we can for sure understand him on that one.

The skills the potential apprentice already has are also important! Tattoo mentors are after all there to teach you how to tattoo, not how to draw.

If you want a few tips on how you can stand out from the dozen wannabe apprentices – read this!

Once he picks someone out, he then devotes all of his attention to that apprentice for several months. When their skills have developed enough, they can then start working at his shop.

So guys, you heard it from the master himself. This is Axel’s apprenticeship approach and it sounds like music to my ears.

Do u have an apprenticeship horror story? Or in contrary, a very positive one? Perhaps you’re still looking for an apprenticeship? Either way, let us know, don’t be shy!

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