Being Present As A Mentor — Tim O’Connor

Submitted 12.15.23

Being Present As A Mentor

[29:48] “I believe my duty as a mentor is not just to teach the technical aspects of tattooing, but how I can teach you to have a career. I really try to create an environment of growth and openness, and foster that and give that to other [artists].”

— Tim O’Connor

A mentor's role extends beyond teaching the technical aspects of tattooing; it encompasses instilling the frameworks for crafting a successful career. The emphasis a mentor should focus on when developing an apprenticeship is on a holistic approach or complete systems, ensuring apprentices grasp the entirety of the profession. Early in a tattoo artist's career essential qualities might include the ability to absorb constructive criticism without ego interference, fostering an environment where mentor and apprentice share knowledge, and building a positive shop culture that values collaboration and feedback.

Snake and woman side profile tattoo by tim oconnor

As a mentor, creating an environment of mutual learning is crucial. The mentor strives to break down hierarchical barriers, encouraging a culture where everyone, regardless of their position, can learn from one another. The shop thrives on open communication, artists regularly seek feedback from each other, and the mentor cherishes the opportunity to foster collaboration and provide a supportive space for artistic growth.

Watch the full episode: 

What Makes a Great Tattoo Aprenticeship? | Tim O'Connor | EP 275

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