I'm a tattoo artist, and here are the answers to questions people are usually too shy to ask.
Asking for art you found online can be rude to the original artist and person it was designed for.
If you don't like your tattoo, don't hesitate to tell the artist to find something that works.
I quit my corporate job to become a full-time apprentice at a tattoo shop, and eventually, a tattoo artist.
Here are my takes on the 12 questions that clients are often too embarrassed to ask:
Are there certain things you do for ticklish clients who can't sit still?
Tattoos typically hurt more than they tickle, so it's usually not a problem. The best thing to do in that situation is to breathe through it.
But if you're really ticklish, numbing cream might help - just make sure to ask your artist beforehand.
Are you supposed to shave where you're getting tattooed before your appointment?
There's no need to shave before your appointment.
I actually prefer you don't shave so I can do it to make sure you have freshly smooth skin for the session.
Is it OK for customers to cry?
It's OK to cry, but please try not to. Your artist will probably have to stop the session until you've calmed down.
Just remember that the pain is temporary and you'll get through it.
What should I do if I don't like my tattoo?
If you don't like your tattoo, communicate that with your artist or the shop.
As long as you're nice and respectful, any good shop should work with you to find a solution that'll make both parties happy.
Is it rude to wear headphones during the session?
I encourage my customers to bring headphones or a book to keep them company during the session.
But I always appreciate it when customers let me know first so I'm aware they have headphones on if I need to get their attention.
Do you expect conversation or can customers stay quiet?
Some artists prefer to talk and others like to concentrate on their work, so follow their lead.
Personally, I'm more introverted and like to focus on my work. I'm also terrible at multitasking, so the tattoo will take longer if I'm talking.
What if I hate the design?
At the end of the day, it's a permanent tattoo going on your body. If at any point you hate the design, don't hesitate to tell your artist.
You might have to reschedule the appointment, but they should be able to work with you to find a balance that you both love.
To avoid this situation, make sure to be clear about the design's direction from the start. It's also crucial to do your research in finding the right artist for you.
How much should you tip your artist?
Any tips are always appreciated, but most of my clients tip 20% or more.
It's also good to ask your artist their preferred payment method for tips - usually cash, Venmo, and Zelle are favorites.
Can I ask for a tattoo I found on Pinterest?
Tattoos found online can be given as a reference, but your artist will likely design their own version of it. It's never good practice to steal another tattooer's original design.
It's disrespectful both to the original artist and the person it was designed for. Tattoos can be so personal, so custom art is usually made specifically for that client.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule - scripts, things from pop culture, famous art, and universal symbols like hearts and infinity signs are generally OK.
If you like a certain look, go to that artist directly or find someone with a similar style to design custom body art for you. You can also get permission from the original artist to get a piece commissioned.
Will tattoo artists get mad if I need to reschedule or cancel my appointment?
Each shop has its own cancellation or rescheduling policy, so be aware of what that is. The earlier you let the artist know, the better.
I only get annoyed if it's a no-show or same-day cancellation, especially without a good reason or apology. At that point, I've already spent hours on the design and will have a harder time booking another client for that spot.
Obviously, if it's an emergency, I totally understand and have no problem rescheduling. The most important thing is to communicate and respect your artist's time.
What's the best way to reach out to a tattoo artist?
If you found your tattoo artist on Instagram or TikTok, make sure to read their bio first. They'll most likely have booking information on their highlights or website.
If not, contact them however you can and ask for the best way to book.
Why hasn't my artist posted my tattoo on their Instagram? Do they hate it?
If your artist hasn't posted your tattoo on Instagram, don't take it personally.
There are a million reasons why your tattoo didn't make it to Instagram, so it doesn't necessarily mean that they hate it. Tattoo artists are their own worst critic and might be unhappy with certain parts of the execution.
Most of the time, I don't post tattoos that I've recently done a lot of or ones that aren't my typical style. It can also be due to bad lighting and angles or that I just forgot.
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