Well kids it’s sweater weather again which means it’s a great time of year to get tattooed. Why now you ask? Wellll if you ever got a tattoo in the dead of summer you may have had a hard time keeping out of the sun and staying out of the water (both of which are VERY bad for a fresh tattoo!! more info here and here) Now that you are covering up you can rest assured your fresh ink has a chance at healing properly.
So as a little primer for newbies and a refresher course for old hats used to getting inked here are a few things you DON’T want to say or do at the shop so you don’t come off like a tool.
How to Act at a Tattoo Shop (and not look like a tool!)
Never NEVER call it a tattoo gun! That is not what it’s called. Nope. No way. This is NOT cool insider tattoo slang. Seriously. It’s a tattoo machine.
Don’t say you are getting tatted. That’s not a word and it sounds lame. Don’t say “nice tats” – also lame. Basically never say the word “tat” at all. Tattoos are so freaking cool they don’t need slang so just…don’t.
Don’t make it all about price. If you are in a quality shop and seeking ink by a quality artist the fastest way to look like a chump is trying to get a “hard price”.
Tattooing is subjective. The price will vary (sometimes widely) based on ; the artists reputation and experience, the size and scope of the project, color vs. black and grey, detail, location and how long you can sit like a big boy or girl.
An artist can give you a very general ballpark but not an exact price (this does NOT apply to basic, super common tattoos like infinity symbols, teeny weeny peace signs and hearts and shit – for those you usually get a flat price and probably a big eye roll and a heavy sigh behind your back).
Don’t act like a know it all. If you are lucky enough to get tattooed by a real pro they probably DON’T want to hear all about your cousin who is killing it scratching out of his kitchen or how you have been practicing on yourself back home (and could they hook you up with an apprenticeship or whatever).
Getting tattooed is not an opportunity to job hunt or network. The only person working is the tattoo artist. Your job is to sit there like a good little soldier and not be a pain in the ass in any way. You have ONE job people – don’t screw it up.
Pay, tip, thank and leave! When your tattoo is all done your artist may want to take a quick photo for their portfolio. They will also give you care instructions (or tell you to get a sheet from reception explaining everything). You might get a little hug or a high five – you have been in each other’s business for several hours by now and hopefully have enjoyed one another’s company.
But remember – your tattoo artist just finished work and now they are done with you. You are not buddies and they probably don’t want you hanging about and talking to everyone else in the shop including their next client. They have to clean up and get ready for their next appointment or maybe they are heading home for the day – they would like you to pay and leave.
I know I know – tattoo artists are unbelievably cool and you feel like you really bonded during your session buuuuut – it’s over now. Show your love by leaving a nice tip and expressing sincere gratitude then get the hell out of dodge. You don’t have to go home people but you can’t stay there!
If you really did get close during your session then your artist might ask you to go out for a drink or send you a nice text later on – otherwise they want you to go home – deal with it.
Of course there are many other ways you can piss off your tattoo artist – I made a list here . But the most important thing you can do in a tattoo shop is to act like the decent person you (hopefully) are and let your artist do their thing with minimal input from you. Then follow your care instructions exactly (don’t make these mistakes!) and be sure to recommend your artist when people admire your new ink.
Follow these tips and you will be welcome in any professional shop!