Sunday, November 23, 2008

How Not to Piss off A Tattoo Artist

If you've never been tattooed, you're bound to have questions. There are certain things that you should avoid saying when you go into a tattoo shop.

1. "How much will it hurt?"
I don't know about you, but I'm not psychic. I don't know what kind of pain tolerance you might have. Neither will the artist. Yes, it will hurt. Needles are going into your skin. My favorite analogy is the actual process feels a lot like having hot sandpaper dragged over your skin. Generally speaking, fatty places (upper arm, hips, thighs, calves) will hurt less than bony places (ribs, lower back, wrists, and ankles). Also generally speaking, the outline will hurt more than the color. In my case, I think the color hurts twice as much as the outline. However, almost everyone I know says the outline hurt more.

2. "Is it really going to cost that much?"
Do you haggle at the grocery store over the price of cereal? No. Don't argue with a tattoo artist over the price. It's how they make their living. It's akin to saying "Your work isn't worth that much". Rude, no? If you can't pay for it, don't ask for it. Most artists will be perfectly happy to give you a consultation and a quote. I've never known one to go back on what s/he quoted me.

3. "Will you tattoo my face/hands/feet?"
This one needs a little more detail. Most artists I know (including mine) will tattoo the tops of the feet. However, it's with the caveat that it's more likely to fall out and touch ups aren't free. You do so at your own risk of having a not so great tattoo. I have one on my left foot that I took really good care of and it looks as good as the day it was done. As for the hands and face, those are a bit more hard and fast. Just because Rihanna got a tattoo on her finger doesn't mean every artist does it. Hands and fingers are constantly moving, being washed, and exposed to all kinds of irritants. Plus, it's a pretty darn painful place to get a tattoo, especially on the sides. If you can find an artist willing to do it, it will probably be with the caveat that it will more than likely fall out and if it doesn't, a touch up won't be free. The face should be pretty obvious. What employer is ever going to hire someone with a tattoo on their face? 'Nuff said.

It's a good idea to do a little research before you even walk in the door. The whole process will go a lot more smoothly if you know what you're talking about. You don't have to be an expert or even very knowledgeable, but a little bit of know how goes a long way. Even if you're still unsure, just be polite and listen to what they have to say. I always defer to their judgment because they do this all day, every day. I wouldn't presume to know more than a firefighter or a lawyer, so why assume the same with a tattooist?

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