Monday 4 August 2014

5 Douchey Things that Infuriate your Tattoo Artist

I want to qualify what I'm about to say by stating that for the most part I love my customers.  A big part of what makes tattooing an awesome job is that I get to interact with really cool and interesting people every day.   Most everyone I meet at my job has an interesting and unique story that speaks to why they've found their way in to the tattoo shop.  I've created some great friendships with some of my regular clients and for the most part I genuinely get excited about getting out of bed, peddling my bicycle down to the tattoo shop and spending a fun day blasting out cool tattoos on cool people.

That said, there's some behaviour that I have to deal with that needs to be called out for plain old douchebaggery.  I shouldn't have to tell you how to have basic courtesy when dealing with your fellow humans.  But sadly, common sense is not very common.  Just like people who feel that using their turn signals in traffic isn't necessary because fuck everyone else, here are 5 basic things that tattoo customers do that infuriate tattoo artists and that can be easily fixed with just the slightest amount of polite consideration.

1. If you book a consultation appointment, the awesome thing to do is to actually show up.

You've figured out what you want to get tattooed and you've mustered up the cahonies to book an appointment for a consultation.  That's awesome, good for you!  I invite anyone who just wants to talk about getting tattooed to make an appointment to come chat about your ideas.  There's no expectation or obligation to actually follow through with booking a tattoo appointment.  I'm happy to just chat and perhaps get you on a path towards the smartest approach to your next piece, even if that means you still want to go away and think about it and get back to me at a later time.  But dude, show up if you book an appointment.  If you change your mind and you're not quite ready to engage the process, just pick up the phone and let us know you can't make it.  I've set aside half an hour out of my day to talk to you when I could otherwise be tattooing.  If you don't show up I can only assume you're trapped under a burning car somewhere. 

2. If you're going to be late, just call. It's really that simple.

Like most professional people, my work day gets booked up pretty full and time management is important if I'm going to achieve the most amount of work I set out to do in an afternoon.  If you're going to be late because of traffic or any other inconvenience, I'll totally understand but the courteous thing to do is call if you're going to be late.  We all have these amazing super computers in our pockets - they're called smart phones (or even ghetto-ass flip phones) and aside from being useful for stalking your friends on Instagram and hooking up on Tinder, they actually make phone calls, too!  Do you remember phone calls?  It's kind of a 90's thing but it's still useful technology in a pinch.  If you're late for your appointment it'll likely mean that we'll have less time to finish your tattoo and you might have to return for another visit if we run out of time.  My personal policy is to give a customer fifteen minutes of grace but by the tenth minute I'm starting to get a bit surly. After fifteen minutes, if there's someone else on standby hoping to get tattooed as a walk in, you're going to get bumped if you didn't call to let me know you're running late.

3. Please don't show up wasted for your tattoo appointment.

Getting drunk may build up your courage but it won't make the tattoo hurt less.  I like to say that if you get drunk before your tattoo appointment, then I should be able to get drunk, too.  After all, who likes to drink alone?  Have you ever seen a drunk person sit still?  I can't tattoo you while you're swaying around and flailing your arms like a crazy person.  Not to mention the liability issues with me knowingly putting permanent marks on someone who's not thinking clearly.  The same goes for narcotics, including prescription narcotics.  I need you to be alert while you get tattooed because tattooing is a two man job.  I have to be able to give you direction on how to position your body and I need you relaxed and lucid.  Please don't make it awkward.

4. Don't micromanage the tattoo process.

I get it, you're nervous.  Getting tattooed, especially your first tattoo is a big deal and you've worked yourself up in to a frothing tizzy.  It's totally natural to be nervous however micromanaging the entire process won't get the best tattoo out of me.  Instead, your apprehension and desire to control the process makes me second guess every move I make with designing and applying your tattoo and that makes me unfocused and insecure about the task you've given me.  I genuinely do not mind you giving me suggestions for how you want your tattoo to look.  Certainly custom tattooing is a collaborative effort.  But once we've agreed upon a design concept and discussed our strategy for applying it, you need to let me be the bus driver and allow me to get you home safely.  I'll give you a great tattoo if you'll let me.  Just remember that you chose me to do your tattoo probably because you've seen examples of my tattooing on your friends or in my portfolio or maybe you just like my award winning smile.  Whatever the reason is, put your trust in me and allow me do my job.

5. Don't pull a no-show. 

I get it.  Life happens.  You've been squirling your money away all summer for your new tattoo but wouldn't you know it, your transmission takes a shit just days before your tattoo appointment and now you can't afford your session.  You don't have to be embarrassed about postponing or rescheduling your appointment if you need to financially regroup.  Even if you're just getting cold feet about getting tattooed, it's okay and I'll understand if you need more time to think about it.  Giving me at least a day or two's notice that you can't make it allows me to open the time up to someone else who's itching to get in my chair and I won't have a massive three hour hole in my day where I could be earning money to put food on my family's table.

I understand that in today's economy we all live crazy, busy lives that demand a lot out of us.  If making an appointment is something of a challenge to your lifestyle, that's fine.  If you have commitment issues you're always welcome to try your luck as a walk in.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to hug your tattoo artist.  We can get a little grouchy from time to time.

Adam Sky
Rose Gold's Tattoo
San Francisco, California
Instagram:  adamskytattoos


  1. About 3/4 of your your probs could be fixed by charging a deposit.

    1. Oh yes, I take a $200 deposit on every tattoo. It doesn't stop a lot of people from being flaky.

  2. Welcome to life. My fiance couldn't even make our wedding. I love reading douchie shit soooo much. Shut up.

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  4. #1 also goes for tattoo artists themselves ;-) I've boycotted all of the tattoo artists in the town nearest me. I was "stood up" several times by not only the artist, but the other two people who also worked with her. The entire staff was flaky, and unsurprisingly, I believe the whole shop is closed now. I hold my artists to the same accountability that they hold me - I believe my time as well as my artists time is important. Equal respect. (I'm not saying you are flaky, I've just had bad experience with artists either not showing up or showing up late as well).