Tattoo Etiquette – A Tattoo Artist Vents About Disrespectful Clients

Note From Karen: When a tattoo artist makes a mistake, it becomes headline news. And yet, most tattoo artists deal with a lot of really annoying clients on a daily basis and no one ever pays attention. Every now and then, an artist gets to the point where they have taken as much as they can handle and they have to vent about the crap they are sick of putting up with. And yet, in between the curse words and yelling, there are words of wisdom that all of us should take to heart. Have a little respect for your artist and try to keep in mind that they are human beings, not slaves or robots. Here are some pearls of wisdom from a tattoo artist on the edge.

“Due to the recent surge of complete fu**ing morons getting tattooed by me (I stress, this isn’t aimed at all of my customers; I still get to do great tattoos on a great bunch of folks, you guys who I like know who you are), I’ve decided to post my latest blog.

I don’t know what your problem is where you think that just because you want a tattoo right that minute, that we should just drop everything we’re doing, decide what you want, draw something up for you on a whim with no input from you, blow off our appointments to get you in for this mystery tattoo, be able to do a nice tattoo on you no matter how much you jump around regardless of how many times I tell you to stop, then you get an attitude with me because I’m the first person to actually tell you that you’re doing something wrong by moving around as much as you are, then you don’t even give me the respect to follow my aftercare instructions because your &*%# of a boyfriend told you not to because his buddy who does it out of his sh***y ass roach infested apartment knows how to take care of tattoos. I want to do the best tattoo I can, but it takes 2 to get it to look good. I do the tattooing part, but you have to do the part about actually thinking about what you want first of all, and sitting the f*** still. If you can’t do your parts, then it tells me that you don’t give a sh**, and if you don’t give a sh**, why should I?

Unfortunately, I have to give a sh** because if that tattoo comes out all f***ed up, you’re not actually going to admit to your friends that you moved around like you were in the back of a pickup truck traveling at high speeds through the woods. Hell no, you’re just going to say that the guy at the Pisst Fish f***ed it all up.

So because of these people, I’ve decided to put up a somewhat sarcastic but partially true list of rules of conduct if you’re interested in getting tattooed by me:

1. Make sure you have eaten within 4 hours prior to your tattoo. I will not tattoo you on an empty stomach.

2. Do NOT consume any alcoholic beverages within the same day prior to getting your tattoo. I will not tattoo you if I smell alcohol on you. The same goes for narcotics.

3. Dress appropriately for your tattoo. I cannot tattoo through clothing, and many times it gets in the way if it’s too close to the tattoo.

4. Please be realistic on your expectations of a tattoo. I cannot do a quality tattoo on a client that moves excessively, is extremely sensitive to the touch, or is overly nervous.

5. You must be at least 18 years of age to receive a tattoo from me. This also means you have to behave like a grownup when getting tattooed by me. You will be allowed to have 1 person join you for the procedure to keep you company, and that is all. You don’t need an entourage, and the one companion doesn’t need to hold your hand. This is not the time to be a Drama Queen, so don’t act like one. The better you behave yourself, the better the experience is going to be for you.

6. All cell phones must be turned off during the procedure, including anyone accompanying you.

7. No food is allowed in the tattoo area, but a contained drink with a cap is.

8. Do not bring your children in the shop, and do not leave them in the car. If you have children, you need to get a babysitter during your tattoo.

9. If you do not speak English, bring a translator. I only speak English.

10. If you don’t know what you want tattooed, I will not set up an appointment with you until you do. It’s not my job to decide what you should get tattooed. If you can’t even do the preliminary thinking part about getting tattooed, you’re not ready to get a tattoo.

11. Think about what you’re getting tattooed. They are permanent, and therefore should be thought about thoroughly. Don’t get tattoos of images just because other people have done it. Do a little bit of thinking first.

12. Please keep in mind, not only have I seen Miami Ink, but I get asked several times a day if I have. It isn’t necessary to ask me if I’ve seen it.

13. Please stop asking to get tattoos of other peoples’ tattoos. I won’t do it in respect to both the artist and the client wearing the original. This also applies to pictures in my portfolio. Those tattoos already belong to someone.

14. Please follow your aftercare procedure accurately. If you lose your aftercare sheet given to you, you need to come back and get another one. Do NOT ask your friends or anyone else how to take care of your tattoo.

15. If you are sick, re-schedule your appointment. I don’t want to bring your germs and other crap home to my family making them suffer because of your lack of common sense selfishness, or lack of respect for others.”

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