From Art Student to Tattoo Apprentice

To learn how to make a living as an artist, Ink Inc. tattoo apprentice Dana Lockwood needed to drop out of art school.

She gave it a try for a couple of years, but was faced with some sobering statistics: only one of ten art school graduates actually makes a living as an artist, and the student loans can take decades to pay off.

Art school was just way too expensive”

“Art school was just way too expensive,” she says. “Things were so rigid, I was doing things I didn’t want to do, and I needed to find a different way to reach my full potential as an artist.”

Dana moved to the Hudson Valley and enrolled in our tattoo apprenticeship program in Kingston, NY. She received personal training from Ink Inc.’s owner and founder Michael Locasio, who has been tattooing for over 30 years.

I didn’t want to just be a scratcher in someone’s basement”

Growing up in a family of artists in Middletown, NY, Dana always had a talent for illustration but fell in love with tattooing as a teenager.

“My friend had one of those $100 kits… and from there I got my own kit. My friends let me practice on them, but I eventually got stopped because I didn’t fully know what I was doing and didn’t want to hurt anyone. I didn’t want to just be a scratcher in someone’s basement.”

In the tattoo world, scratchers are self-trained artists who might not follow accepted legal or industry guidelines for preventing the transmission of blood-borne pathogens, infections, scarring and other bad outcomes. A tattoo apprenticeship with an experienced teacher addresses the safety, artistic and business aspects of the industry.

“I learned about lettering, how to make things work with the body,” she says of her experience. “It was really hands-on, very much a learn as you go environment.”

As an apprentice, she got to learn the basics and build a tattoo portfolio on friends in a safe, supervised environment. She describes her evolving style as “dark but not demonic, sexual but not erotic.” Thanks to Instagram’s tattoo hashtags, people are already traveling to get tattoos from her and artists around the world are commenting on her work.

“People have come from up to four hours away to get a tattoo from me, it’s awesome,” she says. “If you have a big following in a different state, you can even travel there and be booked for a week or two with social media. I love that the art can go so far and be appreciated by so many people in different places.”

Winter 2022 Tattoo Illustration Course at Cornell Creative Arts Center

Reach your full artistic potential

Ink Inc.'s four to six week apprenticeships help artists explore new career possibilities in the tattoo industry. We can help you hit the ground running in a lucrative, booming field. Enter your information to find out more.