10 Things Your Tattoo Artist Wishes You Knew

jessicapaige in Guides

There are various ways you can be generally cool, and low maintenance even at the tattoo shop and today we're here to help you with that.

We are talking about it because, most of us in the employ of any service position have at one time or another, experienced our ideal client. In retail, it may have been that one woman that put all of her clothes back on the hanger before exiting the fitting room. As a waiter, it could have been that patron who was given the wrong order, and ate it without complaint. At those times, when you get that perfect angel of a customer, work doesn't seem all that terrible after all.
Learn how to be an ideal client with our guide to 10 things your tattoo artist wishes you knew...

listen to these guidelines
listen to these guidelines

1. We're artists, not mind-readers. For our friends out there still walking into the shop all "What do I get?" We see you. This one is for you baby. If you're looking for a custom piece please oh please have an idea of what you want, accompanied by at least one reference. If you chose a professional and reputable tattoo studio chances are we are too occupied with serious clients (who already know what they want) to pull that vision you see "in your head" out onto paper. Help us out, and do a little homework. Artists typically respond best to visual. The faster we're given that visual idea, the faster we're all on the same page, the faster we can get you that drawing!

be prepared to wait
be prepared to wait

2. Be prepared to wait. I can't tell you how many times I've watched a client flip out over a 2 hour wait at a walk-in shop. Patience is virtue. The tattoo industry is currently booming, and we all now have easy access to artists digital portfolio's via Instagram. If you want a bad-ass piece by an in-demand tattooer, the chances of you popping in on your own time and being ushered into the chair immediately are pretty slim. Come with a book, or at the very least your phone charger, because you might be here for a while.

don't complain or question the artist, find someone you trust instead
don't complain or question the artist, find someone you trust instead

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3. After the third re-draw, we're pretty much over it. Nit-picking is not fun for anyone. Find a reputable artist you trust whose work you can identify with, and let them do their thing.

the bigger the piece, the longer it will take
the bigger the piece, the longer it will take

4. Large scale work doesn't happen in 1 hour. Oh cool, you want a dragon fighting a tiger fighting a snake as a back piece. What's that? You're leaving back home to another country tomorrow? No problem, let me wave my wand here and get that done for you. Just kidding. Large scale tattoos like back pieces, sleeves, even half-sleeves require a little bit more work than one might realize. The typical process includes a prior consultation, where your artist will discuss your idea with you and take a tracing of the area you would like to have tattooed. You might make an appointment for a later date, or be asked to return in a few hours while he/she draws for you. It's important to keep in mind that these drawings don't just materialize, and will take a bit of time & effort to come to fruition. The piece itself will likely require multiple sessions with a 2 to 3 week break in-between to heal.

don't bring children to the shop
don't bring children to the shop

5. The tattoo shop is no place for your child. This is a one-size-fits-all rule that includes babies, toddlers, basically any one under the age of 18 (and yes, that includes your polite and especially well-behaved kid). Though most tattoo shops maintain a high sanitation standards, a tattoo artists trash bin and station  are filled with bio-hazardous materials that little ones can get into if not properly looked after. There's also cussing, loud music, and typically adult-oriented discussion (and artwork!) not suitable for young ones. Moreover, getting tattooed is a typically nerve-wracking experience in itself, and the shrill crying of a child who is not getting attention is enough to break anyones concentration and put the whole room on edge. It's a better deal for you, your artist, and your child that he/she is left at home during tattoo day.

be prepared for the long wait, so don't drink too much before
be prepared for the long wait, so don't drink too much before

6. Take your restroom break before your session. Self explanatory.

make up your mind before you go to a shop
make up your mind before you go to a shop

7. "So how much for a sleeve?"  Get acquainted with the most dreaded question we've ever had to answer. "I don't know what I want, but I want a sleeve, so... how much?" or "How much for an arm?" Professional shops do not price per body part. The price of your piece will be dependent on a few factors. How big, how detailed, how long it will take, the subject matter, and if it's color or black and grey. It's impossible for us to guesstimate the price of your sleeve if you don't know what kind of sleeve you want.

understand that it might take time to get done, so don't plan anything right after
understand that it might take time to get done, so don't plan anything right after

8. Time-constraints work in no ones favor. If you've got more important places to be, or drinks with the bro's in 2o - best come back when you don't have to rush. Artists don't like to be rushed, and you definitely don't want a rushed tattoo.

don't start teaching the tattoo artist
don't start teaching the tattoo artist

9. Don't overestimate your knowledge on tattooing. Don't bring your friend/boyfriend with the dope kitchen-tat made by his cousin to be your tattoo advisor either. We're aware you guys caught a couple episodes of Inkmaster last week and we bet that was entertaining. The fact of the matter is, Reality TV isn't exactly reality and the reality of it is that these shows have convinced their viewers that anyone can be an expert judge on the craft. Unfortunately, it takes even the most skilled tattooers years to be able to understand, read and execute a tattoo correctly - by all of the rules. So spare us the amateur commentary about tat-guns and line-work and let us do our job. We'll kill it, we promise.

stop bargaining, tip instead.
stop bargaining, tip instead.

10. We really hate haggling. Haggling is awkward. The same way you wouldn't bargain for a sweet deal to have your appendix taken out, you shouldn't bargain for tattoos. Tattoos are a luxury item. Be forthcoming about your budget from the beginning, so we can figure out how to accommodate you.

jessicapaige

@Jessica Paige

New York Native. Dreamer, traveler, collector, headbanger. NY Ink Season 3 Social Media & Writer for Tattoodo

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