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From the Internet: How to Treat Your Tattoo Artist

By Lauren Vaughan

A little insight if you'll have it.

I was grabbing my coffee last week on my way up to Denver to get tatty blasted, and the girl at the window asked what I was getting and where and I told her I had no idea. Her jaw dropped and and a confused look glazed her eyes. She asked what I meant and I told her that I like the guys style and that I was letting him decide. She said that was badass and so brave, and I told her it was neither. It only halfway blew my mind that her mind was so blown.

So let me take a paragraph or two to explain something to ya! Most people hear the word “artist” in tattoo artist and immediately think, “Oh, they're an artist, they can replicate whatever idea I want, in whatever style and colors I want, and that's their job. But that's a misconception. What they're thinking of is an illustrator. A tattooer’s job is to make sure that they follow the rules of tattooing to make sure that you have a piece that lasts, that ages well, while you do, that flows with the shapes of your body, while the shapes of your body change. The rules that tattooers have been following since the turn of last century and well before that. You are not a piece of paper. But when you bring something to your artist that was drawn or painted on paper or canvas and you ask for exactly that, you are shorting yourself. However long your artist has been tattooing, they have been aiming to perfect their craft to make sure you get the best tattoo you can possibly have. Trust me, they probably lost sleep thinking about how to execute that tattoo. And if you've chosen the right artist then trust in their ability to do so. I'm not a tattooer yet, but it irritates me to no end when people treat their tattooers like Walmarts. You know? It's like going to the dentist and asking for a papsmear and then leaving them a one star review on their business page because you couldn't get exactly what you want. When an artist tells you no or tried to talk you out of an idea, it's not that the idea is bad, but the imagery probably won't make for a good tattoo. That artist on a daily basis has gone through trial and error over and over again, over years and years to ensure they know everything there is to know about how to put that tattoo in you so that;

1. You have work you can be proud of.
2. So that you never have to worry about a semi quarterly touch up every year for the rest of your life.
3. To make sure you walk away with a tattoo they can be proud of.

Demanding that the artist duplicate an image that has no place as a tattoo is essentially undermining all their years of hard work and study and gives off the message that you know more than they do. I really don't mean to come off rude, but if you bought a 'gun' of Amazon, you aren't a tattooer. If you've drawn all your designs and gotten them tatted, you are not a tattoo artist. If you've done stick n' pokes on your friends, you are not a tattooer. Just because you've gone to art school, does not make you a tattooer. Please leave the tattoos to the tattooers. And if you're somehow still reading this, and have never thought about any of that stuff before, here's some advice. (And I can guarantee that every tattooer on the planet will appreciate this)

 
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1. Decide you want a tattoo.
2. Do not save 30 images off Pinterest of other peoples tattoos.
3. Search on Instagram the style that you like, whether it be Traditional, Blackwork, Neo-Traditional, New School, whatever you want (If you have no idea what these mean, Google it and you will find out).
4. Find an artist who kills that style. (You will find one in your state, but out of state can be just as easy.)
5. Contact them, whether it be visiting them in the shop, sending them an email, or writing them mail. Doesn't matter.
6. Give them your ideas and let them say no to a few. They are the experts. They aren't saying no to make you feel stupid or because they just don't feel like doing that one today. They're saying no for your best interests, based off their years of experience.
7. Trust them. Trust their experience. You've already learned through your searches and their work that they do great stuff and you'd love to have a piece by them.
8. Drop their deposit. Most often it's a guarantee for their time. And it usually comes off the total when you're done. They don't get paid hourly, and if you don't show up, they just lost 200 bucks that they were planning on feeding their family with.
9. Set the appointment. Make sure you will be as free as you can be.
10. Show up for the appointment. Eat before hand, drink plenty of water, bring something to distract you, a book, headphones, a Rubix Cube, whatever you like.
11. Tip when you're done. Anywhere from 20, 50, or more depending on your happiness with it and situation.
12. Take a few cards, leave a good review, and tell all your friends.

And to the best of my knowledge a tattooer couldn't ask for anything more. They understand that the meaning is important to you. If you want to overcome trauma, you might want something to represent something powerful. If you're insecure you might want something delicate and flowy, or if you lost someone and need to represent them, let the artist create something for them (your lost loved one left more in this world than their name and birth/death date). Just please whatever you do, don't waltz in and act like you've done 3 or more tattoos a day for the last five years. Because you wouldn't do that to a dentist, or a doctor, or even the mailman. Find an artist you trust and trust them for goodness sake. If the tattoo artist can do what they know, I guarantee you'll walk away with a boss ass tattoo.

I hope that this has been informational and if you made it this far I applaud your commitment to knowledge. 😋🙌

Adam Godwin