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10 Ways to Piss Off Your Tattoo Artist

WARNING: the post contains the following; double negatives, personal opinions, random bullshit – you HAVE been warned.

1. Price check

You want to know how much that new tattoo is going to cost and you don’t just want a “ball park” – oh hell no. You want an exact quote to the penny. Otherwise how will you be able to bargain hunt by calling up 3 or 4 different shops for the “best price”?

Reality Check: Unless you are getting a piece of flash or tiny ass little word tattoo it is very hard for an artist to give an exact price. The factors that will affect the cost of your tattoo include; complexity of design, color and shading of design, your ability to take it like a man/woman, the speed at which your artist works etc. Don’t ask for anexact price especially on large pieces like sleeves and backs. It’s an ongoing process and good work is NOT cheap – deal with it.

2. Expect Your Artist to Read Your Mind

So you have this awesome idea for a tattoo and you want it to be “really rad” or “sick” so you convey this important info to the artist who has agreed to draw a custom design for you. Sure you don’t know the details or anything – that is the artists job! So you tell them something like, “I want a big-ass elephant all decorated for the circus but like totally sick…you know” and your artist – bless her heart – goes home and spends 3 hours drawing a beautiful detailed drawing of an elephant right out of Barnum and Bailey’s. When she shows you the sketch you say “Oh man I don’t like it. I want the elephant to be way gnarlier – you know what I mean?”

Reality Check: Your artist does NOT “know what you mean” – you have to be specific. Tattoo artists are not mind readers – they are artists. And before you ask an artist to draw something custom make sure you are both on the same page AND they draw in the style you like. The above example is a true story. Not only did she waste her time on that original sketch she spent another 3 hours drawing a new one.

3. Steal Your Tattoo Artists Work

So you found a killer artist to do a custom sketch for you. You hammered out all the details and he fuckin nailed it! But whoa hang on there – this guy charges like $150 an hour and the shop next to the laundromat has a sign posted out front that says they only charge $50 bucks an hour – what’s a bro to do? Grab your kick ass custom sketch and go save some big time money dude!

Reality Check: In the land of dick moves this one is King. Don’t do that shit…Just. Don’t. And don’t print images from online of a popular artists custom work and then ask someone else to copy it for you. Copying is lame and potentially illegal (some artists are now copyrighting their work). A truly reputable artist will be at least uncomfortable and most likely unwilling to copy another artists custom design anyway


4. Ask For Constant Updates

You found a great artist and you are on track for an excellent tattoo – they are even doing a custom sketch for you so you are pretty pumped…and nervous. Why haven’t you seen that sketch yet? When will it be done? What if you don’t like it and want to make a few (or twenty) changes? Better keep emailing and calling because artists LOVE that shit.

Reality Check: re-read number 3. the reason many artists will not release a sketch until right before your 1st apt. (or sometimes the day of) is because they have been burned before. Their custom work is what they build their reputation on.  If you are lucky enough to book with an artist who will make something unique for you then try to chill and be patient. Even if you only get to see the sketch the day of there will still be time for adjustments.  If the “wait and see” style won’t work for you then communicate that to your artist so you can work something out ahead of time – or work with someone else.

You'll see it the day of your appointment or if your artist says to come by on a certain day!

5. Show Up Late – Or Don’t Show Up At All

You have your apt. all set to go but then disaster strikes – your car breaks down, your dog runs away, there is a 10 hour L.A. Law marathon on TV and you are NOT going to make that apt. Well that’s kinda embarrassing so… don’t call. They will work on someone else…right?

Reality Check: Unless your artist takes walk-ins then NO – they will not be working on someone else. And even if they do take walk-ins so what? You made a commitment to be there and you blew it off. Your no-show most likely cost your artist money (which is why many artists require a non-refundable deposit) Of course a realemergency means you cancel – but make sure you call as soon as you realize you are not going to make that apt. – the more notice the better. And no-showing for no good reason? The Devil has a special spot in Hell just for you.

6. Bring Your Posse to Your Appointment

Hey if it’s good enough for Justin Beiber it’s good enough for you, right? So bring a friend or five and make sure you are getting tons of selfies and maybe a little video to throw up on YouTube. It’s your tattoo time and you NEED to share that shit with the world!

Reality Check: No One wants to be Justin Bieber. Probably Justin Bieber doesn’t want to be Justin Bieber anymore. Don’t bring a soccer team with you to your appointment. Most shop spaces are small and even if it’s not your artist is WORKING. They neither want nor need the distraction (and the other people in the shop don’t want that shit either). If you must –  bring one “wing-man” who can run out for snacks or ibuprofen or soda’s what have you. And tell your wing-man to bring a book. Watching someone get tattooed is actually pretty fucking boring.


7. Cry and Whine Like a Big Baby

You are right in the middle of that sweet dream catcher tattoo with feathers and shit all along your rib cage when – Hot Damn That Hurts!!! Well you had NO idea it was going to hurt that much! You’re going to have to take at least an hour to chill before you continue. Or maybe you should call it quits for the day? Your artist scheduled 5 hours for your piece and you have only been there for 90 minutes but so what? You only have to pay for how long you sat.

Reality Check: If you have never been tattooed before then prepare yourself for some pain. Tattoos hurt. How much do they hurt? That depends on your personal pain threshold, where it is being placed, the skill of your artist and if you are physically prepped. Prepped how? Get a good nights rest, drink a shit-ton of water and eat a big meal about an hour before your apt. You can get shaky and dizzy while being inked – it’s happened to me – so plan ahead and let your artist know what to expect from you.


8. Show Up Drunk


So your kinda nervous about getting your armpit tattooed – I get it. That shit hurts for real. Best bet is to go slam like 5 or 6 beers right before hand. With any luck you can sleep through your apt. Win!

Reality Check: Don’t drink before your tattoo – oh please don’t. You won’t be able to sit properly, follow instructions properly, you will get all sweaty and slick and your blood will thin. Plus your artist probably won’t work on you anyways if you are drunk – save it for after your session.

You just ain't getting tattooed if your fucked up in any way!!!

9. Lie About Your Age*

Your sixteen but there is No WAY you can wait until you are 18 to get that ‘shhhhh” tattoo on your index finger. No. Fucking. Way. No problem – just tell your artist that your mom gave you permission and bust out a signed permission slip – that oughta do it!

Reality Check: Seriously? It doesn’t matter if your mother escorts you to the shop and gives her permission in person – it’s illegal and no artist/shop owner is going to risk their license so you can have a “One Direction” back tattoo. What would a bartender say if your mom brought you into the bar and gave you permission to do shots with her? Same difference.


10. Don’t Tip Your artist

Whew you did it – you got your next mad-cool tattoo and can’t wait to show it off. You tell your artist “thanks bro” and head out to reception to pay up.

Reality Check: Did you get a killer tattoo? Did your artist work hard on your behalf and do a great job?  You should leave a tip. I know I know – tattoos are expensive, artists make so much money etc. etc. Ya ya ya, I’ve heard it all before. Bottom line – tipping your tattoo artist is cool and you want to be cool, right?

Well that about rounds it up – let me know if I missed one 

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