Every tattoo artist has their pet peeves when it comes to clients, but some clients can seem totally clueless when it comes to the do’s and don’ts in a tattoo shop. Tattoo artists are just people doing their job like any other, but sometimes they wish that you thought about a few things first before coming to get tattooed.
1. They’re not Psychic.
It’s a common joke that Tattoo 101 is learning what “just like that but different” means. Tattoo artists aren’t psychic and they can’t read your mind. If you want a custom idea then you’ll need at least one piece of reference to be taken seriously. You have a vision in your head which means for your tattoo artist to see it they need to physically see it – either on your phone or on paper. It saves time and headache when you don’t see eye to eye because someone isn’t explaining things right.
2. Sometimes you have to Wait
Good tattoo artists create art, and art takes time. While most artists have a rough idea how long a tattoo will take it’s not uncommon for them to run over before it’s finished. You wouldn’t want them rushing to finish your tattoo so don’t fuss while they’re finishing with someone else, even if they’re a bit late. Similarly, if you walk in and expect an open booth at a good studio you’re either naive or lucky. Most experienced and in-demand tattoo artists are appointment only and while you might have to wait a while if you’re trying to get an appointment that day, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to make an appointment.
3. They will not simply Re-draw unlimited times
Tattoo artists usually only get paid for tattooing, and redrawing your idea over and over costs them money and time that should be spent tattooing. If you’ve asked them three times to redraw your idea then there’s a problem and it’s probably you nitpicking the idea to death. If you really don’t like the design consider whether you’ve brought the right (or enough) reference or whether that artist has a different style than what you’re looking for.
4. A backpiece won’t happen in an hour
Despite what TV shows you it simply isn’t possible to do a sleeve or backpiece in an hour. Most of those shows are filmed over months with 2-3 weeks between sessions and the process takes time from consultation to completion. You may have to wait for the first appointment, and it will take time for any big piece. Be prepared to commit the time (and money) for the long haul.
5. Stop asking “how much for a sleeve”
That’s like asking how long is a piece of string or how much is a car. Sleeves are varied in design, style, and often arm size. Do you mean a leg sleeve? An arm sleeve? A full sleeve? A quarter sleeve? Ideally you should come in there with reference, designs, and ideas for your sleeve. It doesn’t have to be everything but most artists want some sort of ideas to work off before committing to a price. If you’re simply asking in bulk you’re likely just to get an hourly rate in reply which is just as vague as your question.
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