Your Job As The Client (The things Tattooers WISH they could say)
As the tattoo client, you have a responsibility: the responsibility to do your research.
In this age of technology - you have no excuse not to look at portfolios, check out reviews, and compare, hundreds of artists. You don’t even have to put on pants to look through thousands of shops and portfolios
You have a responsibility to not just walk in to a random shop, talk to the random artist and trust that they are capable of doing what they say they can do.
And with saying all that: If you get a bad tattoo - it’s not the artists fault - it’s yours.
This is not a conversation about GOOD art vs BAD, or if a tattoo artist is actually a good tattoo artist. If a client, gets tattooed by a bad artist and they didn't know... it's the client's fault. Period.
I personally have never walked into a shop, walked up to the counter and said “This is that I want” and just trusted that the person I spoke to is actually capable of doing the tattoo I'm expecting or envisioning. and so far, I am very happy with ALL of my tattoo work.
• Many tattoo shops have what’s known as a “walk in” artist or several.
• These tattoo artists vary in quality and skill between artists and shops. A good shop will have good artists doing walk ins, but the issue with most shops, is that it’s a race to the front desk for the artists: whoever speaks to the client first, is the one who gets that tattoo.
• The problem with that is simple; Tattoo Artist A - may be fantastic at traditional tattoos while Tattoo Artist B is great at colour portraits. If you go in asking for a portrait of your grandma and you talk to Artist A in a shop that runs on the premise of who ever speaks to the client, gets that client, they’re going to say they can do it, meanwhile there is an artist in the shop who would give you a WAY better tattoo. You're getting the wrong artist to do your tattoo, but had you done your due diligence, you would have walked into the same shop and asked to speak directly to Artist B, you would have spoken to them about your ideas and booked yourself an appointment (if needed) and waited happily for your appointment and you would have left happy and proud of what you are know wearing permanently. But if you didn't do your research you’ll find out too late that, Artist B would have been the right artist, and you’ll blame the shop and the artists for you not fulfilling your own part of the process.
• Tattoo artists like money, and clients hate the word “No”. So too often clients come in with an idea, that for whatever reason is not a good tattoo. A good tattoo needs to take a lot into consideration, the design needs to work on the area of the body and needs to be large enough to not end up bleeding together. They need to be held in with darks, and some body parts heal badly - like fingers, palms, sides of feet, elbows and knees.
• Some artists are better than others at saying "No" to a bad tattoo idea, but sometimes they get forced into doing something they don't want to do, because of shop rules or the clients themselves. No tattoo artist says no for fun, so when an artist is saying “No” - there’s good reason, A bad tattoo has their name on it, and regardless of WHY it’s bad, it’s bad.
• Sometimes a client leaves unhappy with a great tattoo - because it isn't what they wanted. Sometimes they get talked into a style they didn't want. They didn't understand what an artist was explaining, they didn't look at portfolios, they didn't communicate their ideas well or they just didn't really know what they wanted. Sometimes a tattoo artist is great at talking a client into believing they are more capable, or sometimes - the tattoo is just not exactly they way they imagined.
• Many times, we have had a client walk in with an idea that doesn't translate from idea to tattoo well, and we've tried to explain WHY but the client is set on their idea. The artist is then damned if they do it and damned if they change the tattoo to be a 'better' tattoo.
• Now the issue is that sometimes you see a design you love, and the stencil is perfect, it gets placed on you and you couldn't be happier- so you start getting the tattoo, but when it’s done, it's nothing like it was supposed to be - that's because your artist didn't have the right skill set to do that tattoo well. You, the client could prevent this by looking for tattoos with similar attributes to what you want, for example - if you want a realistic flower, look for photos of other things with no lines, and realistic details. Always look through their work and see their consistency, ask for healed photos, read reviews and ask every question you need too.
Regardless of skill or talent, at the end of the day, YOU choose your artist, they didn't force you to trust them, they didn't hold a gun to your head.
You made the choice to trust their word and that, is on you as a client.
If your first question is "How Much" or you strictly price shop, if you decided to push an artist into an idea they are clearly uncomfortable with, or simply wouldn't take no for an answer or just wouldn't wait, your bad tattoo, is your fault.
Please stop blaming good artists for pieces you don't like.
Stop thinking that all artist's are created equal.
A tattoo is on you for life, do your research, talk to many artists, talk to your friends, read reviews, visit the shop or just scroll through Instagram!
Please don't be one of those people who blame an artist for doing their job, because it’s not their fault you paid them. This is the one time it doesn't matter how GOOD they are, if you didn't do your job and allowed them to do theirs, that's on you. Literally.