6 Phrases from Tattoo Customers that Make Me Rage All Over the Place

MAN am I a slacker. The truth is, I’ve been so busy with everything that I didn’t even remember I had a blog until a couple days ago! I’ve started doing online classes part-time, whilst continuing with my full-time job and finishing up my “How to Become a Tattoo Artist” eBook. It’s a lot harder to write a book than I thought. I also spent $1000 on this ridiculous Macbook for school…I’ve been told that I’ll eventually love it, but right now, I just think the creators were drunk when they were programming it.

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I love my job, and it’s awesome. =D I get to draw on people all day, and I make a living doing it! But, it’s still a job, and there are still things about it–and people that I deal with–that cause me rage. It’s been a long day filled with some ridiculous moments that will be laughable probably after I rant about them here…I’m not really this hateful all the time, I promise. xD I’ve compiled a list of my peeve phrases that I hear as a tattoo artist:


#1. “Are you an artist?/Are you an apprentice?” I get it. I’m not very old, I’m a female, and I can still hide my tattoos if I feel like it. But when I’m literally the only other person in the entire tattoo shop, it’s safe to assume that I am indeed an actual tattoo artist.

#2. I want to get a medium sized tattoo. How much?” Every time someone asks me this, I always get the urge to say, “Do you want fries with that?” This is not McDonald’s people, this is a tattoo shop. As detailed as your description of a “medium-sized tattoo” is, you’re going to have to give me more to work with than that, because I’m not a mind reader. What’s medium to you might be teeny to me–or maybe I think you want a giant backpiece. That’s medium for some people.

#3. “But my friend got THEIR tattoo for $xxx, and it’s the same size.” or “The shop down the street only quoted me $xxx dollars.” Oh good, then maybe you should go over there instead. I’m not a broke artist living in a cardboard box (thankfully), and as much as I would love your business, I’m not going to come down on the price of my work, which others will gladly pay, just because your friend got his/her tattoo in a basement for $30. I understand if you’re looking for a deal, but that’s like going to Nordstrom and saying that you saw a similar shirt at WalMart. They aren’t going to price match for you, and neither will I.

#4. “I want to get a tattoo, but I don’t know what.” This statement is usually accompanied by fidgeting fingers, a wandering saunter, and a pair of eyes boring into my soul, hoping that I can supplement this individual with the personality to come up with an amazing tattoo design on the spot. I love to help people bring their ideas to life, but can’t simply look at you and tell you what to get, because I know nothing about you or what you like. If you want a tattoo just for the sake of getting one, then you should probably wait for a while and see if you still want one in a week–you might have also had time to put some real thought into this permanent life decision.

#5. “I know you’re closing in a half hour, but can you do this -insert complicated idea here- for me? It’s the only time I can do it this week, so I can’t make an appointment.” Okay. There are a couple things about this that drive me nuts…one of which is that it’s happened enough to be on this list. Here’s the thing: other people call ahead and make appointments. All the time. If this was the ONLY day you could come down, why wouldn’t you have called earlier? Even earlier in the day, like BEFORE we’re about to close? This statement is usually made by people who attempt to guilt me into tattooing them because they don’t know how to manage their own schedules, and like they probably do to other people in their life, they expect me to cater to their whims because they’re entitled to it. NO. What makes you so special that I’m going to stay late to work on your tattoo just because you weren’t able to call in a timely fashion like everyone else does?

# 5 and a half. **EDITED TO ADD* This is similar to the phrase “But we’re from OUT OF TOWN.” If I have to hear one more person follow up my inability to make time to tattoo them with this stupid statement,  I’m going to lose it on them and prompt them to go back to wherever they came from a little bit faster. Allow me to share with you this lovely anecdote:

One time, I was tattooing someone who also happens to be a friend of mine, and we were working late on his tattoo. On a Sunday night. Technically, the shop had just closed, when in walks a group of four, who are all looking for a tattoo roughly 2×2 inches, each. I politely informed them that we were technically closed, I was just working late, but that I could accommodate them tomorrow if that worked for them.

“Ohhhh…well, we’re from OUT OF TOWN. We’ll just look around, thanks!”

After they leave, my friend looks at me and says, “I guess you were supposed to stop tattooing me and go ahead and do their tattoos because they’re from out of town, huh?”

Did the fact that they’re visiting make my tattoo magically be finished? Did it change our shop hours so that one artist could tattoo four more people by herself, even though she’d been there for 9 hours already and wouldn’t be done with the current tattoo for another half hour at least? Did it make more artists magically appear that would have time to tattoo all of them? The answer to these questions is a resounding NO.

Like the “Ohh, this is the only time I can do it” line, the “we’re from out of town” line implies that you are somehow special because you live somewhere else, and during your stay at some point, you decided that you wanted to get a tattoo, BUT, not knowing the area or any of the local shops, couldn’t be bothered to call around and ask for availability. I got a tattoo in Phoenix when I visited, and I called a week in advance–I even offered to do an over-the-phone deposit! Again, the fact that you don’t know how to arrange your time or respect anyone else’s doesn’t mean that you’re entitled to accommodation. And “we’re from OUT OF TOWN” is NOT a magic phrase that will make me stop whatever I’m doing so you and your gaggle of friends can get what they want.

#6. “I only have $xxx…can you cut me a deal?” See #3. Imagine if you told the guy who was remodeling your basement that you only had $3000 for the project, even though he quoted you $5,000. Do you think he’s more apt to say, “Aw sure, I understand how it can go…sure, I’ll cut you a deal, stranger!” or “Go to hell, if you don’t have the money, then you shouldn’t be remodeling your basement! Call me when you have enough, or we can set up a payment plan.” Or, maybe you could go to the grocery store cashier and say, “I see that this milk is $3.25 a gallon, but I think that’s too expensive. I’m only going to pay $2.50 for this.” My service is no different than the services of others…it comes with a set price that can only be negotiated if you change your mind about what you want. Sometimes I’ll give discounts to people who are nice…but people who haggle with me will get the exact opposite. Don’t be a douche.

Have you ever been this person? Have you encountered this person where YOU work? Tell me in the comments!