10 Things Tattoo Artists Hate, So You Can Avoid Doing Them The Next Time You Go In For Fresh Ink
Whenever I go into a situation outside my house, I am very conscious of trying NOT to be a douche bag. This includes going to bars and not being "that guy" who asks how much their tab is after every drink. And of course, it includes being aware of things that tattoo artists hate. Sure, for most of us, it seems pretty easy to not piss off someone who is going to be providing us with a service, but if you have no idea of what the code of etiquette is, then you run the risk of pissing off someone who is giving you a drink or putting a permanent piece of art on your body.
Tattoo artists are not servants; they are skilled professionals who deserve your respect, money, and gratitude. They are here to do a job, which is hard on its own. Add in the antics they have to deal with on the regular, and we just may have found the most difficult profession on the planet. After all, if your tattoo is on fleek, then you'll probably want to be able to come back to the same artist for more. Don't expect to be welcomed back if you act like an A-hole.
Typically, I roll with the same few tattoo artists that I've been working with for years, including friends who do it as a profession. As it turns out, most tattoo artists have similar pet peeves. After talking to them all, I really can't blame them. I wouldn't put up with any of this BS at a tattoo parlor — or anywhere else. If you're prepping for your first piece of ink (or simply can't figure out why your tattoo artist seems so annoyed in your presence), then please read these 10 things that are major no-nos in a tattoo parlor.
1. Asking Your Artist to Copy Another's Work
So you found an image on Instagram that you absolutely love, even though someone else already has it tattooed on their arm. It also happens to be done by a tattoo artist across the country whom you have no access to. I'm sorry for your loss, because your tattoo artist is an artist, and s/he does NOT want to copy another artist. The best way to not totally insult your artist's abilities is to bring in several images from different artists OR using one image as a reference, making it clear that this is just for inspiration.
2. Openly Scoffing At The Quoted Price
Hey, guess what? Art costs money. That's why there are high-priced galleries around the world. This particular piece of art is going to be on a canvas of your skin, which can actually be much harder to work with than most other mediums, considering humans often flinch when they are in pain / sneeze / need water breaks.
Many parlors have an hourly fee which varies per artist, plus a minimum you may have to pay up front — even if you're just getting a tiny tat. And unless you have a very generous tattoo artist friend, you're not getting a full sleeve for less than a couple hundred bucks. Sorry.
While we're on the subject of price, negotiating the cost is rude. And it's probably not going to get you anywhere. If it does, you've just given your tattoo artist a little bit of shame to sleep with for the night. No one wants their art to be undervalued. This isn't a flea market, and you aren't purchasing a set of old plates. If the quoted price is out of your ballpark, chances are it's because of the detail and size, NOT because your artist is taking advantage of you. And whatever you do, don't agree on a price and then negotiate after your piece is completed.
4. Standing Your Artist Up
Usually, the reason you're putting a deposit down after a consultation is to ensure that you show up. If the artist is taking the time to work with you on drawing exactly what you want on your body, then the least you can do is show up for your appointment. If you're having sudden cold feet, it's best practice to either call and cancel in advance (so that they can book another client), or still go in and express your concerns. The artist will be happy to answer any questions that have suddenly popped up.
5. Rolling In With A Crowd Of Besties
I get having your friend come with you when you get a tattoo. I have definitely gotten friend tattoos and sister tattoos, watching each other sweat in the chair. One companion is fine, but rolling in five deep to the tattoo shop is not a good look. Not only is there not enough space for your crew, but the chatter and incessant questions hurled at the artist is distracting. The last thing you want is a distracted artist with an inked needle to your arm. If you're old enough to get a tattoo, then you are old enough to not need a giant support group. Oh, and puh-leaaaaaase don't bring your children.
6. Showing Up Intoxicated
You probably aren't fooling anyone when you come in drunk. If pain scares you so much that you need to be intoxicated to show up, a tattoo is not for you. Drunk people are annoying, but it's also incredibly dangerous to tattoo someone under the influence. Pain meds and/or alcohol can thin your blood and make you bleed more. Ew. You'll sign a consent form before you get your tat done, and most include a line that makes you swear you weren't ripping tequila shots before you came in.
7. Being A Know-It-All
There have definitely been times where I've shown up to my appointment and imagined a different size than the one my artist has drawn. While you shouldn't let anyone pressure you into a tattoo you don't want, your artist is the expert, and knows what will fit where / fade fastest / end up smudged. If your artist says that all of the lyrics to "Stairway To Heaven" just won't fit on your calf, believe them and work on a compromise.
8. Taking Smoke Breaks
If you need to take five or go to the bathroom, you should definitely request it, because squirming in your seat is not fun for the artist. Requesting a smoke break is just eating time out of the artist's schedule, and it's unsanitary. You definitely don't want to take your open wound outside before it's bandaged up and risk infection. Needless to say, go to the bathroom, eat, smoke, and do whatever it is you need to do before you get in the chair to avoid breaks for small pieces. If you're getting something larger done, have a conversation with your artist beforehand to figure out designated breaks.
9. Not Tipping
If you really want to be the worst customer of the day, not tipping is the fastest way to win the award. Just like any service, tipping 18-20 percent is standard in the industry. If your tattoo is already super expensive and you scrapped and saved for it, it's a good idea to save a little extra to compensate a job well done. Unless you had a horrible experience and can't even believe you had to pay for a botched tattoo to begin with, you must tip your artist.
10. Ignoring Aftercare
If you're going to take your new back piece to the tanning beds the next day, that's your business. But don't complain (about your artist or to your artist) that the colors have faded or you've gotten a nasty infection. Most likely, you will be given a tattoo aftercare sheet at the parlor, and your artist will be happy to answer any questions you have. Otherwise, that beautiful piece of art could get seriously ruined.
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