- Tattoo artists hate when clients don’t trust the process, schedule something immediately after their appointment, or go to the beach right away.
- Showing up intoxicated or not listening to your artist’s suggestions will make the tattooing process unpleasant.
- They love the art they create, so they want you to be happy with it.
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Tattoo artists already work intense hours in uncomfortable positions trying to create permanent masterpieces, so when customers get difficult, it can be exhausting.
INSIDER spoke with professional tattoo artists to find out the things that bug them the most, whether that means making the art process more difficult or improperly caring for your tattoo.
Here are the things that tattoo artists wish you would stop doing.
Don’t forget to breathe.
“During the tattoo process, sometimes clients hold their breath in hopes to not move. This is not good! We need our clients to continue breathing as normal,” Kern said. “Holding your breath will lead to you passing out.”
Don’t make immediate plans after your appointment.
“When you are adding permanent artwork to your skin, you want to spend time with the artist to get the design and placement perfect,” Brown said. “You should plan to be at the tattoo shop for two to three hours for even a small palm-sized tattoo, so please don’t make dinner reservations an hour after your appointment.”
Don’t forget to come in clean.
Do yourself and your tattoo artist a favor and make sure that you shower before your appointment, especially since your artist will need to work very closely to your body for a long period of time.
“I hate it when clients get tattoos in weird areas like feet or butts and they haven’t showered,” said Charlie Vieregge at Skin Hooked Tattoo and Body Piercing in Athens, Ohio. “We have to hold our breath half the time.”
It can be challenging to stay still for hours, but it’s a small price to pay for something that will be on your body for the rest of your life.
Don’t go to the beach with fresh ink.
Brown suggests planning your tattoo sessions around your beach trips to avoid issues with the sun, water, and sand.
“Give yourself a good two weeks for healing before dipping it in public water, which contains a veritable surprise party of bacteria,” he said. “After your pool or beach session, make sure you dry your work off well so it doesn’t fester in that bacteria.”
Don’t bring a pack of friends with you.
Many artists mentioned this to INSIDER. The consensus is that bringing a friend to hold your hand and offer emotional support is fine, but bringing a group of friends takes up too much space and can be distracting to the artist.
Don’t try to do too much with one tattoo because it may not age well.
Your artist will know better than you how the tattoo you want will age over time, so their suggestions are with that in mind. If they want to make your small tattoo bigger, they think it will age better. If the lettering is too tiny, it could become unreadable.
“The biggest mistake is trying to do too much with one piece or make things too small,” said Amanda Bonanno, artist and owner of Iron Butterfly Tattoo in Mahopac, New York. “No one without tattoos really seems to understand how tattoos age and trying to do too much with a piece comes back to bite you.”
Don’t apply too much or too little ointment during your aftercare.
“You can clearly see the difference between someone who takes care of their tattoo and someone who doesn’t,” said Vieregge. “If you want a tattoo to stay nice, you have to listen to your artist and put a little time into your healing process.”
Pay attention to your artist’s instructions, like wearing sunscreen and staying out of pools, as well as how much ointment to use because there is such a thing as overkill.
“Applying too much petroleum-based product hinders the healing process and doesn’t allow the skin to breathe,” said Kern.
Don’t get a tattoo when you’re drunk.
“No one really likes to tattoo drunk people,” admitted Brown. “You won’t sit still, you’re probably going to say crazy stuff, and you’ll bleed far more than a sober-ish person. Yes, alcohol absolutely thins your blood.”
The excess blood could make it more difficult for your artist to see what they’re doing and the possibility of puking is not fun for anyone.
Don’t forget to tip your tattoo artist.
Tattooing is a service, so especially if the artist created a custom piece for you, a tip is required when it comes to tattooing.
Tattoo artists may have to give up at least 50% of your money to the shop, so adding a 15-20% tip is standard.
Don’t steal other tattoo artists’ property.
“If there’s a tattoo you love, you should get tattooed by the artist who did the tattoo, out of respect for what they do for a living,” said Brown. “We can reference subject matter you like, but if you don’t like our style, please go to an artist you like. Everyone wins.”
If you’re in love with an artist’s work, go to that artist or use it as inspiration instead of a copy.
Don’t get something you don’t love.
“The biggest mistake customers make is relying on others’ opinions for their tattoo too much,” warned Kern. “It’s nice to get another perspective, but your opinion is really the only one that matters when getting a tattoo. Don’t ever get something because someone else wanted you to. Do what feels right to you because you’re the one who has to live with it.”