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Threeway Relationship Advice: You, Your Tattoo Artist and Your Tattoo

You have to admit, no matter how your tastes run when it comes to life and love, there are not many relationships as intimate as the one you develop, nurture and maintain with your tattoo artist. You are handing yourself over to someone who is going to mark you for life, someone you are going to spend significant time, money and energy with, and someone who is committed to doing everything possible in your best interest.

And you thought dating was scary.

Once you have shopped around, talked to people whose tattoos you like, done your thinking and soul searching and doodling, you are ready to take the plunge. So let’s examine the roles that this artistic, painful, awesome, permanent relationship consists of.

You are the living canvas, bringing your entire self to the process. That means that your skin tone, skin condition, age, lifestyle, general health and desires are right there at the tattoo artist’s station.

Your tattoo artist is the expert, bringing technical skills, artistic interpretation, and important knowledge and experience to the work at hand (or arm or back or ribbies or leg).

But wait, you may be thinking, I know exactly what I want and where I want it and I have saved exactly $37.50 to have it done.

Stop. Hang on. Pull back a sec. Think about it in terms of this life-altering threesome. You + artist + ink. And then throw in all that life advice your mom gave you: You get what you pay for. Don’t be an idiot. Look before you leap. Make. Good. Choices.

Here’s some specific tattoo relationship advice: RESPECT the skill and expertise your artist has. TALK it through. If you bring in a something for reference and your artists thinks it’s a bad idea, TRUST. If your artist has a reason that the placement you suggest is not the best way to go, BELIEVE. And if your artist doesn’t even do the kind of work you think you want (palms, eyeballs, faces, whatever), DON’T ARGUE. Trying to change a person in a relationship has worked exactly no times in history, and this relationship is no different than those. Successful relationships give everyone what they want and need.

Once you have started the work, don’t be insulted if your tattoo artist isn’t chatty. The whole process is about something lasting your entire life, forever, so you want your artist totally focused, not distracted.

It’s also bad threesome etiquette to bring an uninvited fourth (or group), so if you simply have to have someone come with you, be ready for them to stay in the waiting area, or, if it’s cool with your artist, to have them sit by quietly for support. You need to focus, too.

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Unlike in that other kind of threeway, negotiating is not, repeat not, the way to get what you want. Your artists knows precisely what your tattoo will “cost” in terms of time and effort. Be respectful of your artist’s pricing, and remember, both hamburger and steak are cow meat. There’s a reason they are priced differently. And this is not a flea market or desert bazaar – haggling, bargaining, saying “my neighbor’s toothless cousin’s uncle will do it in his garage for half that” just isn’t cool.

OK, so get online, get on the phone, schedule a consult, and get ready for a threesome to rock your world.

And tell your mom it isn’t that kind of a threeway. (But if it turns into that, take pics…)

This post was written by J. Michael Taylor. J Michael Taylor  is a tattoo artist and the owner of Black Amethyst Tattoo Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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