Things to know before you get a tattoo...

Oh lordy lordy, I just saw the most awful, shameless bulletin (on myspace) for a tattoo studio a few minutes ago. I figured since this bulletin is clearly meant to exploit the less knowledgeable’s quest for a deal rather than quality, maybe it’s time to go over how to shop for your tattoo artist and shop.

RULE 1- Bargain Hunting will get you crap. Good work ain’t cheap, and cheap work aint good. I will now start off with an example of how a shop can lure the unsuspecting in, based soley on price and not on claims of talent or skill. observe:

Just remeber SUNDAY is LADIES DAY!!!! Ladies get $20.00 OFF tattoos ALL DAY LONG!!! NO SHOP MINIMUM.. and remeber HAPPY HOUR!!!! 4pm to 6pm Daily get 1/2 off all tattoos (does not apply to custom or hourly work, no other discounts or special apply with this offer) We also dropped our shop minimum.. stop in and see how low you can get your ink for. We beat any shop or underground artists.

check us out online
or call for more details (843)-xxx-xxxx

thanks to all of you who support us , Mxxxxxxxx Tattoo Staff

I ’x’ed the name and number of the shop to protect them from the heap of embarrassment that i am about to throw at them. But most of you can figure out who this is, especially if you live in the Moncks Corner area.

OK, if you even have to mention underground artists, you clearly aren’t playing the professional game. Professionals never have to compare their skill level to scratchers. Next, and lets see how many astute readers caught on to this, they claim not to have a shop minimum, and also claim that they have dropped the shop minimum. So, which is it? Look folks, shop minimums exist to make sure that the artist is not working on you for pennies, and you pay the shop minimum to show that you respect the talents and skills of your artist. Lastly, “stop in and see how low you can get your ink for” basically says, “we’ll cut the throat of any shop out there to make a buck. Come to us because of price, let’s not mention a word about skillsets.” Those of you who are avid collectors, artists, or fans of the tattoo culture already understand what a scary sentiment this is. Those of you who are new to this- do not get roped in by promises of a deal… something that will be on your body the rest of your life is not something to be bargain-hunted. Would you bargain hunt for a brain surgeon? Would you bargain hunt for the dude who’s going to pull your wisdom teeth? Hell no. Because it will affect the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Don’t be a sucker and go with the person who offers the cheapest price… have more respect for your body.

RULE 2- If you don’t like their attitude, WALK THE FUCK OUT. You don’t deserve to be treated poorly, because even though we artists enjoy a great deal of freedom with clients, there’s no reason for us to be unnecessarily rude just because we can be. Now, let’s not mistake this for an artist being brutally honest with you. If you bring me a design that is going to make an awful tattoo, I will tell you, even though it will hurt your feelings. I’ll try to be as nice about it as possible, I will make suggestions on how to modify the design, but I will not do a bad tattoo to protect your fragile ego. If I cannot come to an agreement with the client, I will suggest they seek another artist, rather than put my name to a bad design. I want every tattoo to be the best it can be, weather I do it, or someone else. I’m not in this for the money (although getting paid is rather nice), I do this because I love the art and it’s in my blood. If you cannot take a professional’s opinion, then you may not be ready for a tattoo. That being said, if an artist totally ignores your input, or is unnecessarily nasty, walk out. if they have that little respect for you before the tattoo, imagine how much less they’ll have for you AFTER you’ve forked over your cash.

RULE 3- Look at Portfolios! If you doubt the authenticity, ask for references, or to see some of the work in person! This is not unheard of- it’s doing your research. Look at pictures of your artist’s work, just because they’re in a studio doesn’t mean they’re any good. There are great artists in the Charleston area, I feel fortunate to work with a bunch of them at Blu Gorilla (hey, I’m not too shabby meseff), you just have to look. There’s a bunch of garbage shops out there too. Don’t get discouraged because the ONE shop you’ve visited had crap work or atmosphere, check out others. I get infuriated with the ignorant snob children who bitch and moan that “there aren’t any good shops in Charleston”, when I know damned well they’ve NEVER been to the shops I have worked at. They’re elitist whiner pussies who really mean, “there’s no shops out there willing to trade ass for ink because I could be a Suicide Girl if I wanted but oh wait i’m just a little too fat/ugly/whory/lazy/etc” … So don’t buy the line of the industry being too new here- All of us in it are not as new as the legalization, and if you just got out there and looked before making up your uneducated minds, then you’d know that.

Second, if you have doubts as to the authenticity of a person’s portfolio, ask to see some of the work in person. There should be at least one or two people that the artist can put you in contact with. I have told you about that local scratcher hack, Rico- he stole a bunch of my portfolio pics, got studio work (although he only lasted a whopping 3 hours before getting canned) and a host of unsuspecting clients who believed my work was his. He was a dumb bastard to steal pics from someone locally, because…well, I’m not going to incriminate myself in writing, let’s just leave it at that. Karma will get him.

RULE4- Ask about sterilization. Do they have an autoclave (all shops are required to have and use one). Are all needles new AND sterile? NEVER use an artist who re-sterilizes needles- the needle is DULL after one use, and it cannot be cleaned of all bodily fluids and/or matter sufficiently to be re-used. It’s a disgusting, outdated practice that most artists wouldn’t even CONSIDER. If you do not have the option of watching your artist set up their station, walk out. What are they hiding by not letting you have the option to watch? I make my clients watch me open my tubes and needle packages, every time, even if they have been to my chair 10 times… that way, there are no doubts.

RULE5- Although we are a service industry, you do NOT have the right to be an asshole to us. It’s a guarantee that you will not get the artist’s best work. Why would you want to piss off a person right before they stick a needle in your skin? We have the right to refuse service to anyone, which means you could dickhead your way out of a great tattoo from a great artist. Don’t assume that you know our job better than we do- you don’t. Asking questions is one thing, telling us what needle to use is another.

RULE6- BE CLEAN!!!! If you come in to get your ass tattooed, you better not have little dinglies hanging off it. If you want your foot tattooed, don’t come in after a 15-hour shift at waffle house in wet sneakers. And don’t be offended if, when you come in stinking, we send your nasty ass to the bathroom with paper towels and a bottle of green soap to wash your funk off. You want us to take our time and put our heart and soul into your tattoo- don’t make us want to rush because you can’t wash properly. It’s disgusting and unhygenic. Enough said.

RULE7- You don’t have to get work from an artist who appears to be either hungover, drunk, or doped up. If they aren’t on top of their game that day, reschedule, or move on to someone else. If an artist tells you the day of your appt, “hey man, I am really feeling like crap, can we do this another day”…. RESCHEDULE, and THANK them for their concern for your well-being. Why would you insist a person work when they aren’t at their best? Do you think we are going to do the best job we can when we have a cold, or a horrible backache? We can’t predict when we’ll feel bad any more than you can, so don’t get pissed off when we are having a bad day or feeling under the weather. We want the best tattoo for you, and if that means not taking your money that day, then fine, that’s what it means. I personally have much more respect for someone that would tell me they feel like shit rather than just muddle through a job and hope it goes well. I have turned down appointments because I have had too much coffee that morning, and most clients understand that they’d rather me NOT be geeked-on-caffiene shaky. The one’s that can’t understand, well, they’re probably the same people who bargain hunt and whine later that their artist fell asleep while working on them because they INSISTED on having ink done that day.

RULE8 – If I’m going to be sober, you better be as well. Don’t come in fucked up. When you are drunk, you talk with your hands, move all over the place, and you ‘feel it’ more. This makes for a bad tattoo. Imagine trying to sign your name on a piece of paper that someone is shaking back and forth- that’s what it’s like to tattoo a drunk. It sucks, and the work isn’t going to be the best. I also don’t recommend being stoned- I’ve tried it, and from a client’s perspective, it is AWFUL- if it doesn’t kill your buzz, you’ll just zone out on the pain and it will feel worse. Or you’ll get the munchies halfway through, take WAY too long of a break, and going back to work will be sheer torture. So, I wouldn’t recommend the herbal remedies. As for other ingestible items, I’ll say this- In 10 years I have only thrown 2 people out of my chair because I simply could not put up with their moving, shaking, and attention-whoring antics… and both of them were on pills. Sober really is the best way, and in additon to that, let’s go to…

RULE8- How to make sure your body is in the best shape to be tattooed.

1. Be hydrated. Drink lots of water days before and after your tattoo, the skin will accept ink better, and you will heal faster.

2. Eat a decent meal within 4 hours of your tattoo procedure. It will help your body regulate blood sugar better and it will REALLY make it hurt less. Most people who pass out do so because they have not eaten recently. If you are a nervous wreck coming in, bring some candy to eat during the procedure. It will help.

3. Do not use bleaching and/or acid treatments on skin to be tattooed. It will affect how the ink holds, and I have seen 25-yr olds with the skin texture of an octegenarian because they use some funky chemicals on their skin, and it has made it very hard to ink.

4. Be HONEST on your medical release. Just because you’re allergic to latex doesn’t mean you can’t get tattooed. We have nitrile gloves, no sweat. But if you dont tell us, you’re going to have a really nasty reaction and could possibly have to go to the ER. We WANT to tattoo you, so if we say we cannot, it’s for a VERY good reason. Don’t try to trick us, you’ll wind up sick, and wind up with us chewing you out while we drive you to the doctor.

5. Don’t be hungover, and try to have had a good night’s rest. Your body (and you) will behave much better if it is in good condition.

So, that about sums it up. Initially I was just flabbergasted at the base attempt at a shop to exploit the lack of knowledge of customers. I still am. But every customer need to know these things.

Please, ask any questions or make any comments you want. I’d like this blog to be an open forum for information exchange and dissemination.

Oh yeah, and here’s my shameless plug again:

there’s my portfolio, I will be adding more pics soon, as well as a blog feature for those who don’t care too much for myspace. Also, if you feel giving and want to make me a cool nickle, all you have to do is click on the banner ads. Don’t have to buy anything, just click. It’s google ads, so they wont put malware or any of that crap on your machine either. All it does is make me a nickle, which in turn helps pay for the hubby’s sundays at the driving range, which in turn gives me a peaceful sunday morning at home. Don’t I deserve peace? Doesn’t the world deserve peace? Do you HATE peace? Click the banner ads for world peace.

Now THAT was shameless.

Journal Comments

  • Murray Newham
  • BigFatRobot
  • BadTaste
  • LostBoy1