OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — A new tattoo school is coming to the East Bay, but some say it’ll disrupt a long-standing tradition.

For years, Oakland has been a Mecca for quality tattoo art, but Premium Tattoo owner Matt Decker has a plan that is getting under a lot of people’s skin.

“What we did is we developed a way to train artists that we are then going to intern and hire,” Decker said.

He intends to operate a for-profit school for new artists out of his shop. He says eight students will get hands-on instruction and, once certified, a job in one of the five shops his company owns.

But that runs against the individual apprenticeship system that Oakland’s tattoo community is used to.

“We want to be able to give them education without using them as free labor and that is kind of the traditional way that things have been done.”

Oey, a co-owner of Sacred Tattoo said, “They want the money per student and that’s a big chunk of change from what I’ve been told.”

Oey says the school will flood an already tight market with new artists making it harder for everyone to make a living. And he says tattooing is a trade that takes years of one-on-one mentoring to do correctly.

Decker acknowledges his plan has angered a lot of his fellow artists.

But Decker says, “I’ve always been a bit of a maverick. I feel this is a better way.”

The tattoo school’s operator says they’ll begin accepting applications in about three weeks and they expect to have the school up-and-running in a few months.

  1. If anyone is reading this, please understand that tattoo school is a complete scam. Decker says that he’s trying to “re-invent” the system by “helping” prospective tattooers out of the “abuse of free labor.” HOW? By charging them thousands of dollars over a period of 9 months? Give me a break!! This is capitalism at its worst!! Obviously the dude doesn’t understand the concept of an apprenticeship/internship/understudy. It’s not that hard. You pay your dues in time and energy, and you are rewarded with priceless knowledge. It’s called craftsmanship. Beware of the snake oil salesman.