How To Not Be A Dick At The Tattoo Shop

pinup_0By Emily McCombs
(This post originally appears at xojane.com.
I used to do this dweeby game when I was about 20 and had recently moved to New York, where I would imagine my teenage self viewing my current life. Like, somehow a movie device portal would open up and she’d get a glimpse of her future life and she’d see me like, at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe!!! or kissing a really cute guy who’s totally in a band!

Since my home life today largely consists of DVRed reality television and ordering two large pizzas for two people, she’d probably be less than thrilled if this happened now. (GO PIERCE SOMETHING WITH A SAFETY PIN, TEEN, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND REAL LIFE.) But I think she’d probably still be pretty impressed if she watched me walk into my tattoo shop.

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Because one of 15-year-old me’s main life goals was to walk into a tattoo shop and feel comfortable and have people be nice to me. (And also go back to that cool record shop I was so intimidated by as a teen and have my “BIG MISTAKE HUGE” moment and also return that copy of My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” because I didn’t really know who they were and I never got into it anyway.)

Tattoo shops can be intimidating places. Even as a grown adult, there’s a part of me who still assumes everyone who works there is like rilly, rilly cool and making fun of me behind my back. While there are dicks in any industry, in my experience people who work in tattoo shops are as nice as anywhere else and will treat you with the same respect you give them, whether you have a bunch of tattoos or not.

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Getting tattooed by Virginia Elwood

That said, as in any customer service field, they deal with a lot of crazy assholes, and if you are acting like one, they very well may be making fun of you behind your back. A few common sense dealies:

1. Know what you want.

Tattoo artists are very talented people, but they can’t figure out what you want permanently on your body without your help. Tattoos look cool and sometimes you just want one, but for their sake and yours, decide what you’re looking for before you make a consultation. It doesn’t have to be exact — I often come in with a general theme or elements that I know I want in my tattoo and my charming and talented artist Virginia Elwood designs something for me.

I knew I wanted my most recent tattoo to have a cosmetics theme, so I brought in several images of vintage lipsticks and makeup compacts, along with ideas of the kind of flowers and colors I was looking for. Virginia figured out how to incorporate it all together and make it look cool.

Don’t bring in a picture and expect your tattoo artist to copy it — instead look for things that inspire you. For my left arm sleeve, I brought in a floral-patterned vintage dress as representative of the kind of “spirit” I wanted the tattoo to have.

Look for prints or iconography you gravitate toward — I was always buying stuff with bow prints, so I got little bows tattooed on the backs of my ankles. What makes you happy to look at? What are some things that define you and how can you represent them graphically? (I’m a reader and writer — I have a stack of books on my arm and a vintage typewriter on my leg.) That said, your tattoo doesn’t have to be deeply meaningful or have an epic backstory. It can just be something you think is pretty or cool looking. Once you’ve thought of the right design, you’ll hardly be able to wait to get your new tattoo. Don’t go until you’re FULLY ENTHUSED.

2. That said, be flexible.

While it’s important to come in with an idea of what you want, you shouldn’t come in with a RIGID idea of what you want. Some things look awesome on the page and not on the skin and your tattoo artist knows that because of their years of experience. If they tell you that you shouldn’t tattoo something in the specific size or color scheme you want, listen to them, and figure out how to fix your design together. They are just trying to help you end up with something that looks as good as you want it to.

My motto with Virginia is “You’re the professional,” because let’s be honest, I don’t know jackshit about tattooing. This is why it’s also important to have an artist you trust. If you don’t fully trust the artist you’re working with to give you a tattoo that looks great, get a new tattoo artist! Check out artist’s “books” online or in the shop and look for someone whose work speaks to you. This person is marking you for life and you should believe in their vision.

3. Don’t haggle about the price.

Good tattoos are expensive. Along with razors, they’re one of the few items in life you should never skimp on. Don’t argue, complain about the price, or go on about how much cheaper you could get the tattoo somewhere else. Your artist is putting a piece of custom art permanently on your body. It costs what it costs. If you can’t afford a tattoo, don’t get a tattoo.

4. Be clean/smell good/eat/don’t be drunk.

You’ll be in ultra-close proximity to your tattoo artist for several hours. Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Don’t wear perfume or cologne that may irritate your tattooer. Prepare yourself for the physically demanding process of getting tattooed by eating. Don’t be drunk or be on drugs — most shops won’t tattoo you if you are, as it can fuck up your blood flow as well as your judgment.

5. Don’t bring an entourage.

Some shops allow you to bring a friend with you to your tattoo appointment, which is fine. Don’t bring your entire sorority. It’s annoying and distracting.

6. Tip.

Tip your artist. I tip 20 to 30% on the cost of the session, because my tattoo artist is a special person and our relationship is important to me. Again, if you can’t afford a tattoo, WITH a respectable tip, don’t get one.

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Tattoos by Virginia Elwood

Since having a lot of tattoos is not, in fact, the same as being a tattoo artist, I asked Virginia what a customer can do to avoid being a dick in the tattoo shop, and she sent the following list, all based on real occurrences:

1. Don’t expect your tattoo artist to chant with you while you’re getting a tattoo, and, actually, how about not chanting at all because we are in a tattoo shop and not in an ashram or at some weird ayawaska ceremony.

2. Don’t bring a friend with you and then ask your friend to tell you a story while you’re getting tattooed, because it always sounds like this: “OK, so, like, I woke up today? And like had some coffee? But the guy at the place made it really like weak? And then I did yoga? Oh, it’s OK, it’s OK, just breath! Just take, like, deep yoga breaths? OK, I’ll keep telling you a story. So then like I was late for that class at NYU that I’m taking that combines French literature with, like, Orson Welles? And I’m, like, I don’t even care about Muslims, you know? Oh, my God! Does it, like, hurt really bad?”

Just come alone for your tattoo or bring a quiet friend. Also, don’t bring your mom or your baby.

3. If your tattooer starts asking you questions every time you start singing along to the music, it probably means you should not sing.

4. If your tattoo artists keeps telling you to look the other way “because it helps to stretch the skin,” it usually means you have really bad breath.

5. When a tattoo artists asks you to describe what you want to get tattooed, it’s not an invitation to discuss the origins/symbolism/spiritual quest/path/journey behind your tattoo. We really just want to know if you want roses or a dagger.

6. Tattoo has 3 Ts, not 2. Probably not a good idea to argue about that, because it’s a fact, not an opinion. Unless you’re foreign and then all bets are off.

7. Although your friend is probably super-duper talented and should definitely become a tattoo artist (because it’s, like, really easy to do, duh), most tattooers will not want to replicate his/her drawing on your skin. Usually because the drawing sucks. And if you want it that bad, get your stupid friend to do it.

8. Don’t talk about how your lame boss micro manages every single thing you do while asking your tattooer to redraw the tattoo or replace the stencil on for the 20th time.

9. Don’t ask what’s playing on the stereo while you’re getting a Social Distortion logo tattooed on you. Because it will probably be a Social Distortion song you haven’t heard and then you’ll look like an even bigger moron.

(Emily is the Executive Editor at xoJane.com. Virginia Elwood can be found at Saved Tattoo in New York.)

    • HAH the best % tip I had was on a cheap tattoo. It cost my customer $100 and he gave me a $60 tip. And when I was pregnant with my first son I received several $100-$150 tips. Come on guy you tip your hair dresser, your waitress etc more than 10% I am sure someone that is an artist and putting their passion and talent on you for the rest of your life. While they are hunched over you uncomfortably for hours, sore neck, sore wrists, sore hand, sore back, hungry,tired, but still puts all their love into every piece they do. And that doesn’t count the time that we put into drawing and re-drawing your design,plus our set up,and our take down and sterilization.While some customers wiggle,squirm,jump,twitch,wince etc……I am pretty sure WE ARTISTS deserve more than 10%, Oh and lets face it some customers are pretty nasty! Smelly,stinky,dirty. Yes, we are a tattoo shop. But we believe in showers,soap,deodorant, and toothpaste. Sadly I have had to hang air-freshners near my station, turn fans on so customers smell is blowing away from me, offer gum, I have even spritzed my rubbing alcohol in the air. Which is why the clean customers are a very happy relief.

      • Oh P.S. On the tipping, the tip should reflect the work, the time, and the artist. I am a very kind friendly people person, so I get along very well with my customers. I can’t speak for all artists. And deff tip should also reflect a job well done.

    • Then you sir are a tight ASS. On a $600 tat I leave a $100 tip. And when I go in for my future sessions…it gets less expensive because I tip $100-$200 every session and end up paying less in the long run. Showing someone you appreciate them and the work that they do and the care that they put into the work they do on YOUR body…is sir…building a good working relationship. Best believe your artist talks shit about you and your cheap ass $40 tip. Bye!

  1. My first impression towards this piece was that it was going to discuss the dynamics of a shop among co-workers, how some employes are straight snakes and disrespect each other left and right. That would make a great article for some highly experienced and grounded individual to shed light on. I dont want to get into a bunch of bashing or anything, but I feel a tattoo artist or shop manager should be discussing the etiquette of customer/artist relations. I look to TAM as somewhat a collective authority on the industry, but this article had me stumbling as I tried to read it, too much playful dumbed down talk and definitely too much talking down toward customers. Although we deal with many people who walk in the door who misunderstand or are completely ignorant as to the tattoo process and even proper social interaction, we tattooers are only in business to do others a service. Let us not forget without even the one time collector we could not make a living doing this work. I too wish people would not bring a group of friends or children along with them, I wish people would tip better, I wish people would have better hygiene, I wish people had prepared better for their visit to the shop, but I still feel we should not belittle our customers as I have read above, most especially from the tattooer. Some trivial comments made regarding conversation between the artist and client, chanting, music, spelling of “tattoo”. Really, these are issues of importance? This is not encouraging to read. Its annoying that people call a machine a gun, but really its not the end of the world and Im not going to rant about it. Some good points were certainly raised in this and I think its a starting point for conversation but not publish worthy. Someone take it and run, lets work more toward a better industry for both practitioners and collectors, and move away from a better-than-thou attitude that pushes people away.

    • I have to agree with many things Steven said. Yes, when you work in a tattoo shop, you answer the same dumb questions every day, but we do have to remember that just because tattoos and in turn, tattoo shops are commonplace to us, this is more often than not a really big event in this persons life. I can’t blame the tattooer for her comments, but she really should have realised that she was talking to not only the press, but a customer. In any event, it was poor taste to publish it as is. This business has changed immensely since I first started, and I started with some of the real old-timers. I often say; I liked this biz so much better when it was in the gutter. But, the fact is, it’s not. If you want to stay in this business, you have to act like a businessperson and show people the same respect that you’d like to have given you. Happy tattooing!!

    • Completely agree. People ask me silly questions all the time. So I answer them all the time. We now have a huge customer base come to us because they don’t feel intimidated by us. Also, be straight and honest with your client. If their breath really smells that bad, then let them know and be polite about it.

      There is so much emphasis on what a customer should be doing for us and barely ever anyone saying what our responsibility is to our customer. We are nothing without them and I for one feel honoured anytime anyone trusts me to mark there bodies for the rest of thier lives.

      • This is why I choose the places I choose, too. I know full well I’m an idiot when it comes to tattooing and piercing… all I know is I love them. And when I’m about to do something like put a permanent design on my body, or put a hole in a very sensitive, private place, I am going to ask stupid questions, I may even occasionally repeat questions, because I want to make sure I fully understand everything about what I’m having done to myself… and to feel comfortable with the person doing it.

        I walked away from more places than I can even remember, due to getting smartass remarks about stuff like how the library is down the street, or did my parents know I was there; I get it, I look like a 15 year old goody two-shoes (at 30), but I still love these things just as much as the badass you just finished working on.

        +1 for this artist’s comment, and from the idiot asking all the dumb questions… thank you for answering and being so patient with me. I know it may be all in a day’s work to you, but to me this is something extremely special. So thank you. <3

    • “Although we deal with many people who walk in the door who misunderstand or are completely ignorant as to the tattoo process and even proper social interaction, we tattooers are only in business to do others a service.”

      That’s it. To do OTHERS a service. And that includes dealing with whatever the person brings the shop without being an ass. I’ve heard about artists who only tattoo white skin and shun darker ones disrespectfully. That’s treating people as nothing but good or bad canvas! Why not come up with a way to tattoo dark skin even better instead?

      Even though I agree with the list I do not make a big deal if the person breaks these “rules”. Instead, I try to empathize and educate them, explain a little of the trade and the struggles involved in being a tattoo artist. After all, people are more important than my “artist” status and if the customer is willing to collaborate and trust my skills, we’ll have a good time with a good art piece as a token. If not, well, there still can be an interesting time trying to sort things out between what the customer wants and what I can offer.

      Maybe things used to be different when tattooing was an underground business and rudeness was kind of a protection, but, times have changed… and keep a-changing!

    • Thanks for your response. Could you please explain constructively why this article does not matter to “us” and is of “little utility” in the tattoo world? Also, please remember that this post was written months ago for another publication, we simply thought it was an interesting article and not a complete exchange of beliefs from TAM to it’s readership…

      A diversity of opinions is what we wish to share on the TAM Blog… Please consider contributing something valuable to that end yourself; that’s what this project is all about… Giving tattoo artists a PLACE to educate, entertain and inspire others.

      Cheers!
      -TAM

  2. i totally get this article.i tattoo a large cross section of people ,working at the coastal town of Mombasa in Kenya,East Africa.since alot of people watch the tattoo reality shows now its very annoying when a client goes on and on about the meaning of their tattoo and their journey/spiritual path etc obviously having taken a cue from the tv shows.but what i particularly dont appreciate is putting down people who get tattoos purely for aesthetic reason,me being one of them.so i just nod and agree sort of kills the vibe for me.

  3. Wow…I had no idea tattoo artists were such princesses. As a paying customer, you really shouldn’t have to worry about most of the stuff on this article…they should not be under pressure or be “bullied” to act a certain way that artists find “acceptable”. If a business makes its customers uncomfortable, it won’t be as successful as it could by treating THEM like royalty…and tip should reflect. I have one tattoo, had a great and kind artist, so I tipped him 50%.

  4. This article makes tattoo artists appear to be elitist, clique-y douches. It’s great to take pride in your work but it’s also important to remember that the customers are the reason that the business exists in the first place, and belittling or alienating them is not a good way to guarantee repeat business.

  5. I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo for ages but have been a bit apprehensive because of the perceived “coolness” of the tattoo artists. So what I’m taking away from the article is that I shouldn’t sing along to the music, talk to my friend, bring in my own designs, keep my opinions to myself, don’t make weak jokes to ease my nervousness… So really, tattoo parlours ARE elitist and the artists DO make fun of their customers. Not very reassuring… Sorry guys, not the greatest way to make new customers feel at ease.

    • I agree. This did NOT make me feel good about getting tattoos. I’ve already got one and it makes me wonder “did I do any of this?? what did I talk about when I got my tattoo? did they judge me for the design I got? did I annoy my tattoo artist with my conversation with the person I brought along while he was tattooing me!?” (the person I brought along was my mom ((who was also getting a tattoo))) but then I remembered I went to a really nice and friendly family oriented shop whose goal is not to be intimidating to new-comers and people of any age and I’m sure these guys weren’t bothered by us at all because they weren’t dicks? Like are you really supposed to sit there in silence the whole time you’re there? I image not all shops/artists are like this so just look around for somewhere with a friendly reputation and surely you won’t have this problem.

  6. OK. So this is mostly pretty silly. Yet there are some good points, maybe explained differently as to not offend. I work in a popular and busy shop with good reputation. We literally tattoo the world, quite privelaged. We need each other! You are a team with your client in a joint venture. We both have a roll. You know that at some time we have all talked shit about others, but try not to in general. If we’re talking , then you made some sort of impression. Today most people have a idea when they come in. I will and have not ever put something that I wanted to do on someone without there 100% approval. You tell me and we go from there. If you don’t have a clue as to what you want then you probably shouldn’t get a tattoo. Tips are something that is greatly appreciated, but not expected. We give you a price, anything more is awesome. You will fair best solo. No alcohol, No drugs. Have at least one good meal prior. When you are impaired it hurts more and you think you are sitting still, When you are not, it will affect your art. Power of the mind is the strongest drug and you came in willingly. A companion to help you keep your mind occupied is usually ok. Hand holders, petters, mothering, these things can bump the client enough to mess up the work. So you can see how an entourage could be a problem when we work in a 10 by 10 station. Why would you bring your children to place where we work in blood and body fluids? Let alone all the glass and neon. Children touch everything and there hands end up in there mouth. No need to expose them to these things, better safe than sorry, also many communities don’t allow minors in tattoo shops. Most of us are just real people that want to make someone feel good. Like any service industry, people can piss you off, there are days. We have to remember why we’re here. Repeat business is always good. If the client wants to pick the music they will need to bring there own headphones. You wouldn’t want us working with music we didn’t care for. Not everyone has the same hygiene practices, you would be shocked. Would you go to a doctor dirty? Sounding like a rant a little. Anyhow I don’t let these basically petty things affect my daily life. There is much more important things we should focus on.

  7. This sounds as if someone (or some people) need to crawl out of their arse! So in otherwords sit there stfu and Ill do a design you’ll love to hate… well if I was to go to somewhere with an attitude like this I would walk out and never look back. I will not be belittled by a stranger!

  8. I’m finally happy with a tattooist and have a lot of time and respect for him, so I agree with the ‘finding the right guy’ kind of thing. Also, I don’t see this at tattooist being ‘princesses’ they have to put up with your stinky bod for god knows how long, take a shower. I think ‘consider your placement of tattoo prior getting dressed beforehand’ should be added. Last time I got a tattoo, I had a girls arse the other side of the room staring at me, if you’re getting something on your thigh, wear shorts. I appreciate that tattooing is hard, I couldn’t do it, so I show them as much respect as possible. If you treat them well, they’re going to be happier inking you and therefore have a much more enjoyable experience and wont dread the next time you darken their doorway. Maybe another comment – if you want a letter in a heart, don’t lie and say it’s for your cousin/auntie/whatever, they all know it’s going to probably be for a boy/girlfriend, and yes I’ve seen it happen, asking ‘are you sure??’ a million times, think before you get ink.

  9. As a hairstylist of 22 years…I can say I’ve had an idea a couple times to write something very similar to this…..That being said…I think there’s a way to say it with a little poking, a little sarcasm (say maybe the headers for each tip..but then in explanation, I think there’s a way to say it without continuing to put down the people who do it.. You’re going to be heard more…I would think this just might completely offend the offenders (!) and they’ll just stop hearing and it won’t sink in…It might actually be helpful..you might actually get through to people and make them more aware. I mean, I’m sure the things that were a short list of pet peeves of mine are things some people just don’t think of how off it can be…might click to them “duh that makes sense”..I guess it’s just because I don’t think they’re all complete morons..sometimes we just space on things or don’t get how things work.we all do it about something. Maybe a clothing store clerk or hairdresser or shoe salesperson or taxi driver gets put off by the faux pas you do..would you be totally open to listening in that tone?

  10. As a customer I can totally relate to the “omg this is so cool, you’re so cool mentality” because c’mon, it’s a fricken awesome talent to tattoo cool pictures on people for well, ya know, forever. I can understand the better than you attitude (I don’t like it) but I have personally been snubbed in several shops before and that’s fine. If they don’t want to help me or take my money, I don’t want to be there anyway. It’s just not a good match and everyone should be comfortable. I have since found an awesome tattooer, I think he’s a really good artist and I trust him. I don’t think I’m a dick but I do often wonder because I don’t want to be. I wasn’t offended by this post. I get it from both sides. So laugh at the funny parts and take the rest as a guide because some people are new to this and need some help. It is an exciting event and knowing how you should act can help reduce anxiety and make it fun for all.
    :)

  11. I used to be big on tipping and am a very good tipper in general. Especially compared to my english wife who really learned about tipping when she moved to the states in her late teens. I have sat and been tattooed by some great hands that also charge a great price. With something like tattoos, I think it is important to NOT BE CHEAP! When you try and cut corners on the price, your artist might try to cut a few corners a well and the end result will not be pretty. As for tipping, thats another story. I personally feel that you should be tipping someone who has done service for you without getting PROPERLY paid or compensated for it (like a cab driver or waiter). But Im seriously spending $200+ a fucking hour to sit and get this ‘service,’ if you’re expecting a tip from me you better be giving me the deal of a lifetime otherwise it makes no sense to me. Why tip someone who is making more in one full day of tattooing than I make in a week? Maybe I’ll tip if I sit for a lousy 1-2 hour session, but other than than HELL NO (with all due respect)!

  12. The article is actually well written and the points are good ones. However, the list that was put together by the artist is indicative of a lot of tattooist’s personality. It’s entitled and egotistical and comes off as whiny.
    If your tattooist is a jerk to you, that is something you have to weigh against the tattoo quality. Obviously, it’s great when nice folks are also great tattooists (or, if not nice, then at least professional and courteous), but sometimes great artists are so full of themselves they think it’s a privilege to get tattooed by them.
    Personally, I would rather have a good tattoo by someone I respect as a person (and who respects me) than a great tattoo by an asshole who thinks they is gracing you with their presence.
    ps. Tipping is optional. Your tattooist GREATLY APPRECIATES every tip, no matter how small, but you should never feel pressured to tip. That being said, if you have a good experience while getting tattooed, and you want to show that you appreciate the time and effort put into your experience at the shop, then there is no better way to do that then by leaving a fat tip. Tattooists don’t forget when someone tips big.

  13. Wow. Well…As if people aren’t intimidated enough by the tattooing “process”, imagine actually having to enter a shop and pay money to these stuck up people that are so annoyed by their own jobs and clients, aka source of income. We all have jobs with a list of pet peeves, but geez…According to this article, the only way to make my tattoo artist *like me* is to have just brushed my teeth, showered, shut the hell up and stare at the wall, and give a big fat tip for putting up with my presence. Or else they “talk shit”, as one artist commented on this thread. Yikes.

  14. Okay, I’m planning out my FIRST EVER TATTOO (Obviously, I’m very excited), but the commentary on tipping in this thread threw me off. I’m hoping I don’t get a response with the same belittling attitude as the person in the article, but can someone explain why tipping 20% + is expected? I’m not a cheapskate, but I anticipate my piece costing at least $500 (what I would rake in in two weeks) and I’ll save enough for that and a tip if someone can explain where so much of that $500 is going that the artist needs a tip to supplement it. I’ve been a server at a restaurant so I lived off tips, but I don’t know how much of the $500 I’d be paying is going to the artist and how much is going to the establishment.

    • Generally, tattoo artists only see 50% of w/e you give them. So out of a 500$, the artist will only take home $250. Then we have to take taxes out of that. Most artists also have to supply their own needle/tubes/inks/machines/clip cords/power supplies/foot peddles, etc,
      If you go and get a custom piece, generally the $250 covers any time that the artist takes to do research for the piece/gather reference/draw up the design. We don’t get hourly paychecks like other jobs. If we only do one 500$ tattoo for the week, we have to live off the $250 for that entire week and put it towards taxes/supplies.

      The cost of supplies comes out of that $500 as well, and like I said, most artists have to pay for them themselves. Each tattoo will employ a set up of one time use disposable medical equipment; surgical tape, instruments pads, individual ink caps, sterilization bags, film barriers, surgical soaps, disposable gloves, cups, razors, needles, sharps containers, bio waste receptacles, and so on.

      Most people push tipping because tattooing is a service industry. You tip waiters, you tip hair stylists, etc. Now personally, I don’t expect tips. I’ve gotten anywhere from 5$ to 100$. Average seems to be $20. And you don’t even have to do monetary tips! I think that w/e you can give it totally acceptable. But I know that when I’ve gotten tattooed, I’ve tipped a minimum of $40+ every single time but I only have smaller pieces.

      Hope this helps!

  15. Pingback: Hobby in focus – Tattoos … Thinking of inking? Here’s some useful tips | Hobbies Chat Blog

  16. Only one question about this from me. I’ve not had a complaint from my artist, but what about those of us who fall asleep in the chair? Is that highly annoying to an artist? I take my ink into consideration for months before proceeding to do the follow through, but for some reason I just doze off, as I also do at the dentist. Is it a faux pas for me to doze off?

  17. I usually tip my tat artist $20 on every $100. He is a great artist and all around cool person to have do my work. He never opens needles or sterile equipment without me watching and is very clean and professional. I trust his judgement and I have never been let down.

  18. WOW……..I have several tattoos and have been working slowly on a whole back piece for the last 18 months partly due to cost and the other due to the pain. It will be all in color when I am done. The important part is that you should be able to get along with your tattoo artist. If you rub each other the wrong way you might as well go somewhere else. Most artists don’t care if you bring in one or two people with you (adults) but again every one is different. Are your friends going to be able to tolerate you making faces or screaming like some people do? They cut LOTS out of those tattoo shows on TV. Mine is so painful I am concentrating mainly on breathing and getting past that minute till he lifts the needle and dips more ink to continue! I have no ability to talk at that point because I cannot maintain control of the pain if I talk. And I like his loud music no matter what it is as I am not really listening to it but am glad its there to cover up any noise I am making!! I would have to say that most artists probably don’t do lots of big expensive tattoos but most do tons of smaller ones that bring in more money in the long run with less time spent on each one. Also there are the piercings which are fairly quick to do. So it is all a very individual choice. I bring in pictures of what I want and then he turns it into his unique design and everyone has the chance to approve it twice before any needle goes into your skin!! Once when the drawing is finished and once more when it is applied to your body. that is the time when you need to discuss changes in the drawing or in the position. And I have never tipped in Money but if it is a hot day, I take him something to drink..believe me they do appreciate small stuff like that too………so enjoy and get your tattoos!!

  19. i’ve been around quite a few shops since my ex is an artist. i’ve seen how the artists are with each other and competing shops. it’s a lot of back stabbing and very cliqueish. most have high thoughts and opinions of themselves. Snobby. they do this work on a daily basis and get peeved at answering the same questions day in and day out. suck it up, if your miserable and don’t like interaction with your client then find a new profession

  20. I am surprised at how many people got upset over this article. I thought the tips where hysterically funny. I think the intended point was to be considerate to what your tattoo artist has to deal with while you are in the chair. Good hygiene is important! I could see all of these things being annoying when you add up how many times an artist has to deal with it over their career. I just thought it was a good humored way to say “Hey, be considerate to your tattoo artist and respect the service they are providing you.”

  21. My tat artist has been my friend over 10 years. When he does work on me each time he gets 100 bucks. I’m VERY tattooed, hence everything he’s done on me has exceeded that amount. Tip well, trust your artist and don’t be a pretentious dick when you go into the shop. 3 basic rules for ANY CUSTOMER SERVICE PLACE!

  22. How about this, if your work is worth an extra 20 – 30% then charge it. Guess what other artists don’t get a tip nor does every service industry worker or contract worker, and don’t tell about boohoo I have to give over some of the cost to the shop owner, big deal. Charge what you work is worth, I am so sick of this tipping culture as if it is expected. How about you tip the customer for dealing with your self entitled attitude.

    Cannot agree with Jefe Salinas more.