It's so easy to get wrapped up in the moment and make a few etiquette mistakes when getting a tattoo. And that's completely understandable. Just like it's not always 100 percent obvious what to do when getting a haircut — how much do you tip? do you have to talk the entire time? — not everyone knows the rules when it comes to getting ink.
There are, however, a few tips tattoo artists wish we'd all keep in mind, so that the process can go smoothly. To start, it's always a good idea to go "in ahead of time for a consultation," Leo Palomino, a tattoo artist at Atomic Tattoos in Orlando, tells Bustle. Do some research, find a studio that seems like a good fit, and schedule a day to pop in. "This will allow you time to speak to with the artist, and see if you like them and their work," Palomino says.
While not all tattoos have to be this planned, tattoo artists do appreciate the extra time to go over ideas with you, discuss prices, and draw out the final design. Here, a few more things to avoid when getting a tattoo, so that you and your artist can be on the same page.
1. Bringing Lots Of Friends
It can be tempting to bring a bunch of friends to a tattoo appointment — to hold your hand, cheer you on, take photos, etc. — but it's always a good idea to call first and see if that's OK.
Many times, the artists don't want to be distracted. And sometimes, there's simply not enough space for large crowds. "You can usually bring one friend along but some studios will not allow for anyone else to go back with you, so check beforehand," Palomino says.
2. Wearing Clothing That'll Get In The Way
For the best experience, wear something loose so that the area getting tattoo can be easily accessed. You can even "bring an alternative outfit or even a bathing suit (if appropriate)," Palomino says. Whatever makes you most comfortable.
Also, think ahead to what you'll be wearing home. You might not want to wear tight jeans, for example, if you're getting a thigh tattoo — since those will be too restricting. "Please plan ahead," Palomino says, and bring something looser to wear.
3. Asking To Add More To A Design That's Already Started
It's obviously OK to ask for exactly what you want when it comes to your tattoo. But be careful about asking for more ink, or a different design, once the process has already begun.
"I generally price my tattoos according to my hourly rate and the amount of materials I need to use," Palomino says. "Adding more to your tattoo takes additional time and materials."
Since this is true for many artists, asking for more time/ink/effort on the spot isn't always a good idea. "Should you decide that you want to make additions to your tattoo, ask about coming back after the tattoo has healed," Palomino says. Most artists will be more than happy to touch up a design, or add more to it.
4. Expecting To Get The Tattoo Right Then And There
There are plenty of tattoo studios that allow you to walk in and get tattooed right away. But for a unique design, don't expect it to happen right then and there. "It takes time to consult with you on your tattoo, to draw it, and to set up [the] area for a tattoo," Palomino says. "None of those things can be rushed or done hastily."
Instead, call ahead and make an appointment to discuss the design with an artist. They can work with you to create the perfect tattoo, and schedule a time for it to be done properly.
5. Copying A Custom Design
Tattoo artists often have portfolios full of unique designs they created for past clients. But it's bad etiquette to ask for those exact images. "This is a big no-no," Palamino says. "Instead tell the artist that you like a particular tattoo and we can create something unique to you using a similar concept; same idea but different art."
6. Talking Too Much About Price
While it's fine to talk about the cost of your tattoo, artists can get annoyed when their clients try to haggle for a better price, or say that they plan to go somewhere cheaper.
Not only can this be insulting to the artist, but "most 'cheap' tattoos reflect their price," Palomino says. If you want your art to look good, it's likely going to cost a bit more.
But don't let the extra money scare you away. When it comes to tattoos, you really do get what you pay for in terms of the quality of the design and the quality of the ink.
7. Distracting The Artist While They Work
While not true for everyone, some artists try to avoid talking too much while they work, so that they can fully concentrate. If you want to let them work in peace — or don't feel like talking yourself — "bring a book, watch some YouTube, or listen to Pandora to help pass the time," Palomino says.
8. Not Sitting Still
Of course tattoos can be painful. And it's only natural to flinch. But tattoo artists still want you to stay as still as possible, so the design doesn't get messed up.
"Try to do some deep breathing, meditation, listen to music — whatever is necessary to shift your focus away from the pain experience," Palomino says. It's also OK to ask for breaks.
9. Asking Them To Draw Something For You
Many people expect tattoo artists to make all their design dreams come true, without offering any input. But that's just not how the process works. It's important to "have an idea of what you want for a tattoo and where you want it and describe it," Palomino says. From there, it'll be easier for them to create something from scratch — using your ideas as a guideline.
Artists can even take your design and add their own creative spin. So if you want something truly unique, let them know you want them to include their own flair. This is, after all, a type of collaboration. And there's definitely a lot of etiquette to keep in mind when getting a tattoo, as a result.
But that doesn't mean you can't speak up. If something isn't to your liking, isn't going as planned, or is uncomfortable, let the artist know. It's always better to speak your mind than end up with ink you don't like.