HOW TO BOOK A TATTOO APPOINTMENT PROPERLY AND BE AN IDEAL CLIENT
One of the first mistakes people often make, is not doing their research. Tattooists aren’t robots – we for the most part don’t have the ability to tackle every style and ability to crank out tattoos like they’re just doodles. Some clients may find it to be a compliment to wait for their dream artist to do their tattoo – only to then ask said artist to do a basic script tattoo or something that is not in their realm of style.
For example – I do a lot of neo traditional / bold lines bright coloured pieces, I never post any linework, script, geometric, realism or black and grey yet I still have people coming to me for my work and requesting those styles. So my word of advice: to look through the artists portfolio thoroughly – at the artwork, fresh tattoos and the healed. Make sure you like the artists overall style and preferred palette choice. If you’re not a fan of most of their work, then perhaps move on to the next artist.
How to figure out if the artist can deliver the tattoo you want and ensure the most accuracy to your vision and preference? By booking a consultation. When you come for a consult, try and have reference images readily available, estimated size of tattoo and preferably placement picked out. This will help the artist measure the space and draw accordingly. Also be prepared to place a deposit as appointments aren’t booked and drawings aren’t made until a deposit is put down – all shops vary the deposit amount, but across the board they are non-refundable.
I’ve compiled a list of steps to take in order to book a tattoo, have a good experience and also etiquette and what to do afterwards to make the whole process seamless for both ends. 🙂
1. Research the artist
2. Know roughly what you want ahead of time. Tattoos are permanent and not meant to be a trendy snap decision.
3. Book a consult
4. Be as descriptive as possible about your tattoo ideas – keep in mind your artist isn’t a mind reader and can only work off the information you provide.
5. No price shopping. I understand everyone is working on a budget but the worst thing you can do is message shops/artists around and try to either haggle a deal or wait until someone gives you the lowest quote. Each artist has their own pricing – the more experienced, high caliber and booked up the artist, the higher the rates. You pay for what you get – tattoos are one thing that should never be cheaper out on as they are literally permanent. If you have a budget, communicate with your artist and see if they can either design within your budget or break up the tattoo into sittings.
6. Understand that price estimates are all rough. Some artists charge by the hour, some charge by the piece. It’s up to the artist to determine what their artwork is worth. You aren’t just paying for the time and supplies used – you’re also paying for the years dedicated into honing their craft. A lot of shops have preset shop minimums (for example, my shop is $140 hourly rate, and $80 shop minimum. Sleeves and larger pieces tend to go by the hourly rate.) be prepared to save up and put money aside just incase – anything can change day of tattoo. Size, design, placement, take longer than anticipated, etc.
7. Cover-ups and reworks typically cost more. If you want an artist to rework or cover another artists work, prepare to pay a slightly higher rate. Cover ups require more thought and planning as well as limited colour palettes, design options and most likely multiple sittings. There is also the option of laser removal treatment before tattoo session – it’s best to consult with your artist to see how they feel and what their rates are.
8. A lot of artists tend to be booked out weeks and months in advance – which means they are drawing for all of their upcoming clients in order of appointment sequence. Please refrain from pestering your artist for the artwork, they haven’t forgotten about you they just have other people ahead of you to draw for – be patient, put trust into your artist and you should see artwork a day or 2 ahead or more often, day of.
9. Be vocal and upfront. If there is an aspect about the design you are unhappy with – please tell your artist. Nothing is worse than feeling shy and accepting a tattoo design / placement you aren’t with and then going home with a tattoo you don’t love. Your artist wants you to love your tattoo as much as they do! So if you ever have concerns, don’t hesitate to bring them up. Your artist won’t be offended!
10. Refrain from bringing your group of friends and young children to your appointment. Nothing is worse than your artist trying to do their job and put everything into your tattoo – while your friends are all sitting around or worse; hovering over the artist and blocking their light. It’s stressful so it’s best to bring 1 friend with you if possible. With children – tattoo shops are generally not a place meant for children. There are harmful chemicals in the shop, contaminated surfaces and places your children could get into that they shouldn’t. We are also in an environment with open skin and potential blood borne pathogens so it might be best to leave the little ones at home unless you have someone to watch them in the sitting area and they aren’t causing a disturbance.
11. Hygiene – seems like a no brainer but you would be shocked. If you are getting tattooed, please shower that day and put on deodorant. Wear comfortable clothing that is darker in colour or clothes you wouldn’t mind potentially getting ink on, that also allows easy access to the space you’re getting tattooed. Try to exfoliate and moisturizer your skin prior to your appointment day – as having fresh, exfoliated and moisturized skin actually helps the tattooer and helps you to heal it more nicely.
12. Remember tips are always greatly appreciated ❤
13. Never be afraid to ask any questions – whether it’s about the products we use, the process, healing, aftercare, advice – anything. We are always here to answer your questions and address all of your concerns.
14. I also feel this one is a no brainer, but don’t be late for your appointment. You wouldn’t run late for an important financial appointment would you? Doctor? Dental? Why would you be late for your tattoo appointment? If you happen to be running late, please always give your artist a heads up (preferably before your appointment time) so they are aware of it and can plan accordingly. At my shop for example, if you are 30 minutes late or more, not only is your deposit possibly forfeit but you could also risk your tattoo slot altogether. Your artist is generally booked up and has clients booked after you so if you’re running late, that’s now pushing the entire day back.
15. Even more important than the last point – DON’T NO SHOW YOUR ARTIST. The fastest way to piss off your tattoo artist and have them less excited to work with you, is if you no-show the appointment altogether. I can safely say that we absolutely remember everyone who doesn’t show up for their appointment – times like that, we tend to either charge 2-3 times the deposit amount for them to book in next time, or have them pre pay for their session. If you can’t make it to your appointment or if an emergency arose – please just give your artist a quick heads up to let them know. It’s incredibly inconsiderate to have your artists time go to waste (that they aren’t getting paid for now, and could have had someone else booked in for) and now they’re waiting around all day until a potential walk-in comes. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
16. Listen closely to your artists aftercare instructions and follow the directions on the sheet. A lot of artists use different bandages (some use sterile non-adhesive pads, some use meat packaging bandage, some use saniderm, second skin, dermacare, tagaderm and *shudders* …plastic wrap.) so each artist has their specific aftercare for the specific bandaging they used on you. Do not over moisturize your tattoo, do not use scented products, do not directly expose to sun or submerge in water or subject to ‘dirty’ fabrics (unwashed bedding, used towels, pet dander covered fabrics, etc) and do not pick it! Would you buy a brand new phone and go smash the screen right after? No, probably not. A lot of artists won’t touch up the tattoo for free if there are obvious signs of poor aftercare.
17. Dont start a piece with an artist then fall off the earth. A lot of times artists are excited to take on pieces because they want the finished piece for their portfolio – it’s frustrating when an artist starts a piece and does the lines & shading, only for the client to go MIA for several years.
18. Don’t ask an artist to finish another local artists work*** this one is a touchy subject. Art side – it’s a tad insulting to the original artist to have someone else touch/complete their work. Mind you, it depends on the reasoning. Customer service wise, we want all of our clients to be absolutely happy with their tattoos and their bodies – if we can help you achieve that by touching someone else’s work, then so be it. Just don’t be shocked if most artists turn down touching another artists work – we usually just don’t want the bad blood. Obviously things happen (client isn’t comfortable with artist, artist wasn’t seeing eye to eye, artist wasn’t being professional or providing good service, or artist moved away, etc) so its a grey area.
19. What isn’t a grey area, is asking an artist to 100% reproduce someone else’s work. Do. Not. Ask. Your. Artist. To. Copy. Someone. Else’s. Artwork.
With the exception of if you gain permission from said artist to have the design tattooed – your artist will generally need to see some form of proof that you have received permission from said artist.
Showing your artist a tattoo on Pinterest and saying “I want this exactly as it is” is not only frustrating, but it’s also insulting to your artist. You often choose an artist because you like their style and their artwork – so instead, show them some reference pictures, give them some guidance and allow them to create you a custom piece with similar elements.
20. Pay attention to the shop and the artists social media for their preferred method of contact. A lot of artists update their Instagram Bio’s to clearly state “NO DM’s” but sometimes … people will still message them there. It’s easiest and best to just use their most promoted method of contact (if they say “email us” and have email button, then usually that’s your best bet or just call the shop.)
In today’s world, everything is basically online. Businesses (and Artists) rely on you to let them know how they’re doing – and also to let everyone else know. If you had a good experience, take a few minutes to leave some feedback on the artists page or shop page, as well as google. Your reviews are greatly appreciated and go a long way 🙂
Even if the review is less than favourable – it lets your artist and the shop know what areas they need to improve on and how to do better in the future.
22. Make sure to eat before your appointment and have something sugary in your system too. It’s always a good idea to bring snacks, if possible.
23. Try not to move around – whether you’re talking to friends, looking around the room or puttering about on your phone. Try to remain as still as possible so your artist can put amazing work on your body.
24. Most importantly – have fun! Enjoy the experience, embrace the procedure and appreciate your artist – because they appreciate you! A bond between a client and an artist can be a strong one. We have made many friends at our shop and gained wonderful long term clients – we are all on this adventure together. <33
I hope this helps to prepare you for your tattoo appointment and also some tips to keep in mind throughout the entire process. Thank you for reading! If you have any more questions or would like to book in for a tattoo, feel free to contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org