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, according to Carrie Metz-Caporusso, an artist at Lucky Monkey Tattoo Parlor in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
1. Putting Your Phone On Speaker
"Talking on speaker phone or watching videos without headphones is distracting," Metz-Caporusso explains. "When I’m tattooing I’m focused and it’s hard to maintain that focus when one is shouting about what groceries they need to buy for dinner."
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, or need water breaks. "Tattoo’s are a luxury, so wait till you can afford one," the artist says. "You are paying for the hours of drawing time, the years of honing a specific style and the fact you’ll most likely be wearing it for the rest of your life. So it’s definitely worth the price."
3. Simple Doesn't Mean Easy
"Just because you are getting small circle doesn’t mean it’s easy," Metz-Caporusso explains. "With out shading or other elements, your simple tattoo has to be absolutely perfect. One little wobble and it’s blatantly obvious."
4. Not Being Mindful Of Hygiene
"This mostly happens with feet. I have cleaned off mud and dirt from peoples feet — it’s gross," she says. "I personally am a close tattooer and if your feet are sour, it is the only thing I’m thinking about when I’m tattooing you. I can do a better job when you are clean." Fair enough.
5. Rolling In With A Crowd Of Besties
"One friend is totally fine, getting tattooed can be intimidating and scary, but you don’t need to bring every roommate you have," Metz-Caporusso says. "But getting everyone in the group to agree that the placement of your tattoo is absolutely perfect can be annoying and usually there is simply not enough room for multiple people in a small station."
6. Not Knowing What You Want
"If you don’t know, I don’t know," she explains. "If you tell me I can do what ever I want, I may draw a pig flying through space, and you may really hate pigs, then we’ve both wasted our time. So if you like the artist and want their work, ask if they have any pre-designed artwork."
7. Or Changing Your Mind Day Of
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, and will end up smudged. "This is especially frustrating if you are looking for a one of a kind custom piece, it’s most likely the artist has spent all night designing your tattoo, so completely changing your idea means you’ll most likely have to be rescheduled and pushed back to the end of the line," the tattoo artist laments.
8. Eating During The Session
"It’s definitely encouraged to eat before a tattoo, and it’s great to take a break mid-tattoo and get a snack," she says. "But please don’t eat while you are being tattooed. I have had a client eat chips while I was tattooing their thigh and they got crumbs in my hair and on their leg."
9. Ignoring Instructions — Even During The Session
"People tend to touch the spot you just cleaned and prepared for the stencil, so once you do, it needs to be cleaned and prepped again," Metz-Caporusso explains. "Also, if you are touching your tattoo mid-process you are getting blood on your hand and touching things around the shop, plus the germs on your hands are getting in your open wound — so hands off."
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This post was originally published on March 19, 2015. It was updated and republished on August 30, 2019.
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