Working in a tattoo studio isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Each and every day we get asked to do the impossible. We’re asked to work for next to nothing and we have to put up with some really annoying behaviour. Here’s a small list of some of those things.
1. Tattoo gun
The thing we use to create tattoos is called a tattoo machine. There are 2 main types of tattoo machine we use. One being the coil machine which is run by electromagnetic coils. These are the machines that make the buzzing sound most people are afraid of because it reminds them of the dentist which is ridiculous. The other type of machine that is used by some artists is the rotary machine. The rotary uses an electric motor which spins. As the motor spins, it drives the needle up and down. These machines are almost silent. They are not guns! Guns shoot bullets, tattoo machines do not!
2. “How much is a sleeve and can you get me in to get it ALL done THIS WEEK?”
People come into tattoo shops and use the word “sleeve” like they’re secretly winking at us because they think that we’re going to be like ‘woah, this guy knows his shit’. Well, we’re not impressed by it. It’s actually really annoying. What’s more annoying is when people ask to get a whole sleeve done in minimal time. On average, a full sleeve can take around 25 hours, depending on what the sleeve is made up of and if it’s in colour or black and grey. Expecting to get a whole sleeve done in one week is just not happening. Most tattoo shops have a waiting list so getting you in that week is highly unlikely. It’s best to book sessions when working on a sleeve and get it done over time with at least 2 week gaps between each session for healing time.
3. “I don’t know what I want. What do you think I should get?”
If you don’t know what you want, don’t get tattooed. Tattoos are for life and if you get something you’re not 100% on, you’ll end up hating it. Asking us what we think you should get is stupid. We just put the tattoos on. We don’t know what sort of things you like so we can’t make up your mind for you.
4. “Is it going to hurt?”
Yes, it probably will hurt. Even though we all have different pain thresholds, tattoos still hurt. I find that women tend to have a higher pain tolerance. I put this down to the fact they have to give birth. Bigger men tend to be the clients who wince and moan the most.
5. “Can you draw up a few designs for me to choose from and then I’ll book in if I like any of them?”
We have loads of people booked in for tattoos who we have to draw designs for. People who are booked in get priority for our drawing time over people who aren’t booked in. The more people who book in, the more drawing we have to do and the more time you have to wait for us to get to the bottom of the pile. How we get around this is we tend to get the client to book an appointment and we get them to come in a day or so before the appointment to check the design out. If they don’t like it, we’ll make the changes in time for the day of the tattoo.
6. When people bring more than one person with them.
It’s cool if you want someone with you for support, we know getting tattooed can be quite scary. Bringing a load of your mates is just irritating. The more people you have with you, the more likely you’re going to act like a tool. Showing off and pretending you’re in more pain than you actually are so your friends can give you sympathy and attention. The more people you have with you, the more questions they’re going to ask me and distract me from doing my job. It’s not cool for them to hang over my shoulder and watch what I’m doing.
7. When people bring their kids with them.
When I was younger, I was never allowed to go into the tattoo shop with my dad when he was getting tattooed. Somewhere along the line people started thinking it was acceptable to bring a small child with them in a shop where you have to be 18 and over to be there. You wouldn’t take your child into a adult video shop would you? We have clients who get more private areas tattooed and it’s not fair to the client to have a child gazing at their chest or have them running round crazy and dizzy off lemonade.
8. When people ask you to put a dead family member’s ashes in the ink.
This makes a very awkward situation for us. We don’t want to be playing with a dead person’s ashes and we certainly don’t want to risk ruining a tattoo because we’ve added a substance that isn’t meant to be added to the ink. Calling us disrespectful because we refuse to put your dead family member’s ashes in the ink is disrespectful of you. We want to make the best tattoo that is possible to our skills. Have respect for us when we give you advice on what is best for the tattoo.
9. “Can you not do it any cheaper?”
We don’t actually make a lot of money. We get paid by the hour but that money isn’t 100% ours. Most tattoo artists give a percentage to the shop and pay for supplies. We only get a fraction of what we charge for the tattoo. Don’t be like “£65 an hour?!”. The £65 gets divided and then you’re left with an average hourly wage. If an appointment doesn’t turn up or we don’t have anything booked in, we don’t get paid. We don’t make £65 an hour, every hour of our working day.
10. “I’ve never had a tattoo before but I want a big rose to fill the side of my neck”
This is a ridiculous statement. Why get tattooed in such an obvious place if you have space on the rest of your body? The way we see it is, get tattooed in the places that can be hidden if needs be. If you’re in a job that doesn’t allow tattoos, you won’t have any problems because your tattoos can’t be seen. If you just have your neck or hands tattooed, you’re going to struggle getting a job. In reality, the only people who can get heavily tattooed are tattoo artists and rock stars but even they might need to get another job in the future.