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The Tattoo Apprentice- Wanderjahr Jill

The Tattoo Apprentice- Wanderjahr Jill

Mira from the Wanderjahr Jill travel blog found herself in the shoes of the tattoo apprentice here in the south of France. My friend from Chile that we are visiting is a well established tattoo artist and, after looking over Mira’s drawings, agreed to teach her a little of the trade. So Mira goes to work with him, asks loads of questions, flips through tattooing magazines with a newfound exuberance, and- under supervision- has even tattooed a small piece on my leg.

Mira was a little nervous as she approached my leg with the oddly weighted tattoo machine for the first time. She had a little difficulty getting use to its odd shape and its oblong heaviness, and I must say that the machine really did look awkward swimming around in her hand. But once she put the buzzing needles into my skin I had full confidence that she would do a decent tattoo.

The Master showing Mira how to fix a tattoo stencil with a skin pen

And she did. Mira took that machine with the ingrained skill of a third generation artist and tentatively skipped through the tattoo in bursts and starts. She was learning, and my friend guided her along the way without hesitating to give her real criticism. When she did a poor line, my friend told her, when she learned a new technique, he just nodded silently like an old time scholar. “I do not want to give you too much information now,” my friend ominously stated, “because you are not ready for it.” With that he eased her into the very basics of putting ink into the skin.

The stencil of a Tibetan Om that Mira tattooed upon my leg

Mira is doing well and, if she can keep running, will soon carry the title of “tattoo artist.” Tattooing is another traveller’s trade that can be plied on almost any corner of the earth. But it seems to be a lifestyle that requires a great amount of skill, dedication, and an iron-will to learn. Mira has the talent- I can sense it in her very gait- and I know deep down that if she sets herself to learning how to tattoo that she will flourish.

I just think that I have a tendency to encourage my friends a little too much, and I fear that my exuberance about Mira tattooing may turn her off to it a little. I just hinted to her that she may want to practice drawing today and she nearly bit my head off. Seriously. I almost had to write this post a headless man. That would be no good.

Wanderjahr Jill at work tattooing me in France

I encourage Mira to tattoo not only because I like tattoos and I know that she really enjoys it, but because it will give us another way of making up bean money on the road. We now have Archaeology and English teaching in our bags, I have had a little success with getting a few articles published, and Mira may one day be able to tattoo professionally. I think this handful of trades will keep out bellies full and our feet a walking. On with it!

Things are going pretty good here in France. We are with friends, learning new arts, eating good meals, and doing lots of dishes. France is alright.

Mira smiling about her first completed tattoo

Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Anduze, France
December 13, 2007

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Filed under: Art and Music, Europe, France, Friends, Tattoo

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3167 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Ulladulla, AustraliaMap

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