Mike and Ed started the Apprenticeship program in South Austin, Texas, in 1993. There was an abundance of young, and talented artists in Austin who wanted to get into Tattooing, but who knew little, to nothing about actual tattooing. Tattooing has traditionally been a “Closed Profession”, those who had the knowledge, and experience to teach an aspiring artist the mechanics, and techniques were for the most part unwilling to part with these “Trade Secrets” to anyone outside their family, or very close friends. It was next to impossible to secure an apprenticeship without spending years proving one’s loyalty to his master before actually getting any real “Hands-On” experience tattooing on real, live human skin. Talented young artists, being what they are, weren’t about to let the lack of professional training stand in the way of their ambition to become Tattoo Artists. If no one would teach them, then they’d just “teach themselves”. Obviously, you can’t very well teach yourself how to do something that you don’t know how to do, except by “trial and error”. Tattoos are too permanent, and have too much impact upon the lives of the people who wear them to leave much room for error. Mike and Ed realized that something needed to be done, and the result became this Tattoo Apprenticeship that is open to anyone with the desire, dedication, and discipline to learn.
So many artists took advantage of this unique opportunity that Mike and Ed eventually had 10 studios in Austin, one in McAllen, one in Houston, and one in San Marcos, Texas. By 2002, Austin had grown from a medium size metropolis full of students, hippies, musicians, and artists, to a big city, just like Dallas, Houston, New York, and Las Angeles. It simply cost too much money to live, and run a business, and it wasn’t fun anymore. So, in 2003, Mike and Ed closed down all of their Austin studios, took some well earned time off, and looked for the ideal location to make a fresh start. After much looking, and careful consideration, they chose the Brazos Valley, and Bryan / College Station, home to Texas A&M University, and Blinn College.