Have you ever wanted to look inside the mind of a tattoo artist? Or perhaps you yourself are a tattoo artist and would love to hear some insight on what other artists think and feel? Do they get tired of tribal tattoos just like you? Do they refuse to do racist, chauvinist, or gang-related art? Do they see a mouth-watering blank canvas on bare arms? Do they dress the part to get attention or to distract their customers? Everyone is different, but generally, there are a few things in each profession that all professionals can agree with, like how they are in love with art, feel a connection with what they do, and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. After all, they chose this career for a reason. But that doesn’t mean it’s all inked-up flowers and lollipops. Sometimes, as with every profession, there are bad times, and everyday things that annoy the crap out of you.
We’re going to show you a few of these things taken straight from the mouths of real tattoo artists. Some will be stories you wished you never knew, some will be consistent troubles every artist will nod their head to, and others will be just blissful realities that will take you into the minds of the world’s best tattoo artists. In no particular order of awesomeness, let’s take a look at these fifteen confessions from tattoo artists that you wish you’d already known, with all their ups and downs, lefts and rights, blacks, whites, and every color in between.
Tattoo artists have it bad. They work hard to give someone a beautiful, unique piece of art that they can be proud of. The last thing they need is someone to be rude, judgmental, and a straight up jerk. So who can blame them for purposely messing up, or being a little rougher than necessary when customers act this way. It isn’t right, but it is understandable. It isn’t the customer’s job to judge the artist’s prior work unless it relates to their own, and it’s not their job to complain about anything other than the pain or finished work. The pain is excusable because it hurts, but to complain about tiny things that the artist cannot control is ridiculous.
Why every customer everywhere thinks that they have the right to treat someone they are paying however they wish is beyond me. They could have told you no, and may have if they knew that you were such an a-hole.
14 Not Pinterest
Don’t lie, we’ve all seen tattoos on Pinterest that we “really” want. We’ve all seen things on Pinterest that we’ve purchased or tried out. But taking a Pinterest pin to a tattoo artist and saying that you want that is a little… cheap, and annoying. Their job is not to copy someone else’s work; it’s to be an original artist that helps make your tattoo dreams come true. So it takes a stab at their pride when you have them replicate someone else’s hard-earned piece of art. They imagine themselves being on the other end and they don’t like it. Some won’t even accept your money, saying that they won’t do the work for you. But, most will offer to create a unique piece just for you.
Besides the unoriginal part, they really hate all of the details that have to be perfect when replicating someone else’s work. You might get one small detail wrong and the customer is unhappy.
13 Check Out My Tat
Some people hate when others say "bae," others despise text talk like “lol” and “brb.” But tattoo artists generally hate it with a passion when people try to sound cool by saying “tat." Like, it’s a tattoo. Say it with me: taaattoooo.
If you’re like a lot of people, you hate any type of short talking, and that’s understandable. But what if your profession required you to listen to that same, lame hipster word on a near daily basis. It’s not good. It gets so annoying that you really want to call people out on it or ban the word from existence. I think part of the reason it annoys the artists is that it makes tattoos sound menial, as if it’s something small and whimsical, when in actuality, they are far from it. They are meant to be a meaningful, permanent work of art, much like a Van Gogh or Michelangelo. You wouldn’t use a word like that to describe their art.
12 Never In A Million Lifetimes
This has to be the most disgusting, alcohol-driven excuse known to man. I can’t even say what they wanted, so you better just read it. One of the worst things about being a tattoo artist is dealing with drunk people. The best thing in the world that the artist can do with dumb requests is to turn them down. I’ve seen people who have gone back and thanked a tattoo artist for telling them they wouldn't do what they asked, even though they got angry. This has happened when people got too drunk or were too young.
Again, it's a lot of responsibility to put on a tattoo artist to have them make those decisions, but it’s all part of the job. Besides, do you know how many infections you would get from that tattoo? That’s disgusting and dangerous. No one wants an infection anywhere, buy especially down there. It would make those daily habits nearly impossible.
11 “Perks” Of The Job
This could be a man or a woman who wrote this. Either way, it could be seen as promiscuous or admirable. It depends on how you look at it. They may not be trying to seduce their clients. It’s possible that they just want to distract them in any way possible. Maybe they are a man in shorty-shorts made to distract anyone and everyone.
It’s not a bad strategy. If you see a man’s hairy midriff sitting there an inch from your nose when you’re getting a tattoo on your shoulder, I guarantee that it will hurt less than if the man had on a full-length t-shirt. Or imagine a scantily clad, beautiful tattooed woman in a low cut shirt giving you a good shot of all of her best assets. Whether you were attracted to her or not, you’d definitely be distracted by her. So I guess the theory really does pan out.
10 You Never Know
Getting someone’s name permanently attached to your body is a big deal. How can you be sure you will want to see that every day for the rest of your life? How can you know that you will love them forever? Will you be sitting there at 90 years-old, smiling at their stretched-out name on your saggy chest? Probably not, unless they died with you loving them more than life itself, or unless you spent decades together, your love never dying. This kind of fairytale is something to desire, but it really is unlikely. Getting couple tattoos is fine, but most tattoo artists would suggest something that is also about you, not just about them. It should be something that you really like, whether it be a butterfly, dragon, a gnome, Eeyore, or Batman. It doesn’t matter. As long as it really is representative of you. That’s what tattoos are all about: expressing yourself. When asked by your SO to get matching tattoos, tell them sure, you love them, and you would love to get a phoenix tattoo.
9 Opposites Attract
I guess it’s true that opposites attract, because some tattoo artists are naturally attracted to “clean skinned” people– people who have never had a tattoo before. It’s like a giant, blank canvas that they either want to stay pure or to mess up bad… in a good way, by making this person’s skin their very own masterpiece, never touched by another tattoo artist. Yes, it’s all coming together! Let’s start with an arm sleeve on the right arm before moving to the left shoulder and lower back. Hopefully this doesn’t allow the artist to take too much control over this tattoo newbie. We all know the suggestions would be strong, but let them think for themselves as well. It’s not your skin, it’s theirs. If they want the worst, most pet-peevey tattoos in the world, let them have it. But feel free to suggest otherwise. At least it’s still your art.
This artist stated that it was hard doing his job. There was so much stress in putting your own, unique art on someone’s skin. Much like a surgeon who holds the life of another human in their hands, a tattoo artist makes a permanent impact on everyone they work with. Unlike getting your hair done to express yourself, getting a tattoo is not something to be taken lightly. Your normal skin will not grow back. That tattoo is there to stay, so that’s a lot of pressure on a tattoo artist. They have the right to deny someone service, such as if the person asks for an inappropriate tattoo, or if the artist thinks the customer is drunk. But how can you know for sure the person is sober and in their right mind? Maybe they’re in party mode, or maybe they just got over a bad breakup. You never know. You are like the designated driver, making decisions for someone who may be getting ready to do something they’ll regret for the rest of their lives.
7 Goat What?
If the pentagram request was gross, this one is just plain random. Who in the world has a nickname of Goat Loaf? The worst part is that he got angry when the tattoo artist said no. I guess it was just too idiotic and likely alcohol-driven yet again. But that’s how it goes when you are a tattoo artist. It’s a hard life, but somebody’s got to do it. It might as well be someone who loves it, and someone who will say no to Goat Loaf and not fear for his life after work that night for turning him down.
Have you ever sat down and imagined the kind of things people ask for at tattoo parlours? Have you ever looked at someone’s nasty tattoo and thought about the innocent tattoo artist that had to put that there? It makes you really appreciate your job now, doesn’t it? You aren’t writing "Goat Loaf" on some dweeb’s knuckles, now are you? Then consider yourself lucky.
I thought this was a given. We all judge each other’s tattoos. If we didn’t, then how would we find inspiration? But to hear a tattoo artist admit this took it to another level. Every time you ask a tattoo artist to do something, they rate your suggestion. They may think it’s the dumbest thing they ever laid eyes upon. They may think it’s more amazing than anything they’ve ever created in their minds. Or they may think “eh,” just do it, and never think about it again, much like how we see the tattoo art on others and admire it, feel repulsed by it, or disregard it. Tattoo artists are no different. Except… they create tattoo art, so their judgment is even more extreme, and rightfully so. This is what they do. They really do know what they are talking about. So if they suggest something, listen to them. They’re not trying to be a jerk.
Most people secretly hate tribal tattoos. Especially when they’re done so cheaply and in the least meaningful way possible. Tribal tattoos have been around longer than nearly any other type of tattoos. When seen on a tribal member, it looks rather good, meaningful, and insightful. The tattoo could signify coming of age, a mark of strength, or a mark of exile. But when seen on your average Joe, well, it looks like they are trying way too hard, and they probably also wear one of those flat white rock necklaces you buy at truck stops and souvenir shops.
You know why it looks so bad? Because tattoos are important. Having them isn’t important, but each individual tattoo should have an emotion or meaning attached. If it doesn’t, then why get it? If you have hundreds of tattoos, sure, there’s going to be some less meaningful ones. But if you only have a few, make them count.
4 What Truly Matters
As a tattoo artist, you can understand the meaning of life better than many other professions. You have people come in asking for children’s names, names of lost loved ones, or a symbol of hope or love. But what’s even more meaningful is when you have someone ask you to cover up a traumatic past or their insecurities, and make them feel loved and beautiful again.
Tattoos covering up scars from self-harm have to be some of the most beautiful tattoos. They represent growth, maturing, moving on. The person who covered them up isn’t exactly ashamed, but they are ready to move on and move forward out of the darkness and into the light. They are ready to feel beautiful and loved again, both by themselves and by others. They forgive whoever hurt them enough to make them harm themselves so they wouldn’t have to feel the pain of rejection. Now that would make any tattoo artist’s eyes water. As long as he or she does a good job with the art, then we’re good.
3 You Tell Me
This is like asking a beautician how much a haircut/style/and color will be, or a bartender how much a drink will be. It really matters what you get. So why not go in with the color, size, and the amount of details you want on your skin, and then we can talk about price? Want a small black outlined star on your foot? Not going to cost the same as a full arm sleeve with practically fifty tattoos in one. So remember this next time to start to ask a tattoo artist how much it’s going to cost, because it really all depends on you. There’s a big difference in a $10 tattoo and a $5000 tattoo. The tattoo artist knows this, and so should you.
In general, they chart per hour, with prices ranging from $50 to $500 per hour, depending how renowned the artist is. So why not just ask their hourly rate instead?
2 Aspiring Artist
A lot of times, we subconsciously know what we want to be when we’re children. But the thing is, a lot of professions are not okay to think about until you are an adult, even though teachers are constantly asking what we want to be. There are a select amount of answers that are deemed acceptable. Say you want to be a doctor? Awesome! A lawyer? Great! A teacher? Perfect. A stripper? No. A priest? Depends. A tattoo artist? Not likely. Teachers judge, and who can blame them? If they actually want what’s best for the kid then that’s great and what really matters. But if they think there’s something wrong with being a tattoo artist, they are sorely mistaken. Tattooing is an art. And though many say you’ll get nowhere with being an artist, the truth is, with the right opportunities, passion, and intelligence, you can do whatever you want. This person is proof right here!
1 Bringing Children Into It
What has this world come to? Tattoo artists hate it when you ask to tattoo your child. Yes, that is a thing, believe it or not. Asking an artist to tattoo an infant will cause them to call the cops for child abuse. Although, it’s understandable for a dumb mom to ask for something meaningful to the child. What’s not understandable is to ask for your boyfriend’s name, who isn't even the child's father. This man was the mother’s boyfriend of a few months. The baby is older than the relationship! That would be one ticked off father if she saw another man’s name tattooed on his child, or a tattoo on his child at all. There must be a good reason that the two broke up. So hopefully, the father has his head on straight or there is no hope for the kid, and I really hate seeing kids go to foster homes.