Let’s face it, horrible customer service and entitled “artists” are everywhere in the tattoo industry. It’s like flipping a coin if you walk into a shop and find the most awesome humans left on the planet or some existential millennials that feel self important because they have a “calling” to do only special tattoos for special people.
The problem is that these people aren’t here to be nice to you. They’re here to do a job which is permanently changing your body and it can be an overwhelming experience for some. For some clients when it comes to a first tattoo that can mean putting their heart and soul into what they want only to be told not only it can not be done but that it has to be done a certain way, no highway option. Most of the time you will leave with a design that the artist has recommended rather than what you wanted in the first place unless you’re picking flash off the wall. It may be similar, but what is created comes from the artist.
Are You a Tattoo Virgin or Veteran?
As artists we can literally separate customers into veterans and virgins. It seems awfully judgmental but it’s true because while everyone reacts differently to the process there are underlying themes that definitely come up repeatedly.
These customers are excited, they’re stoked and running on adrenaline. The process is intimidating and they’re nervous. They have ten thousand potential ideas but may hesitate on what they really want because they don’t want to be laughed at.
Why They Want a Custom Tattoo?
These people don’t want to fit in, they want something as unique as they are and will not appreciate pressure to make decisions until it’s 100% perfect for them. They may want alterations even after the design is finalized and struggle to jump between the process and the objective.
In the Shop
Most artists will sketch a basic design and talk the customer into changing their idea to fit what is tattooable. The problem is they don’t expect the customer to come in before their appointment which is why changes are last minute and the customer can feel rushed. Most times what the customer gets and what they originally thought of are not the same unless it’s very simple.
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While veterans can still suffer the same nerves and excitement they also can get pressured into a design they’re not 100% happy with. This is one of the reasons cover ups are popular but it’s also a huge factor in the fact that cover ups have to be done a certain way to work.
Why they want a custom tattoo?
Veterans want custom tattoo designs because they have specific ideas that can only be drawn up from scratch. They may have a rough sketch but often want to see the design before finally agreeing to get it done. They will often wait weeks between the draft and the appointment and they won’t settle for anything less than perfect.
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The Tattoo Artist
Tattoo artists are paid to tattoo not to draw, which means they don’t want to draw your design ten times. Most artists do enjoy drawing, but not the same design ten times which is why they’re doing custom work.
The customer feels entitled about the drawing because it’s going to be on them forever. In their mind the design is costing them money and they are paying for the artist’s time regardless.
The truth is that customers change their mind all the time, especially with larger pieces. So when the client walks away the artist has essentially worked for free on tat design which isn’t fair.
Even veterans will wonder why they have to put down money for a design they might not even like. You’re paying for the artist’s skills but you’re also giving them a guarantee that you’re coming back and not wasting their time.
Most people that won’t leave a deposit aren’t serious about their tattoo. For those that are, a deposit shouldn’t be a problem.