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I got into tattooing seven years ago thinking there was a lack of customer service in an industry where the way I was treated as a customer was not up to the standard I had come to expect. Over the years I have learned that there is really only one rule in customer service: the customer is always right. In that regard tattooing is not a merely a service at all. With tattoos most often the customer is almost always wrong or at least misinformed, and needs to be educated in the process and styles of tattoos. The majority of people don’t like this, and find reason to complain or nitpick their artist or go looking for another artist who will give them exactly what they ask for. That outline of a unicorn on your stomach you printed off the first result of a google image search is pretty stupid. You
are probably going to hate it in a few years. I wrote a few years ago about “How to spot a bad tattoo client“.
Now I’d like to say that if I don’t think an idea will work well as a tattoo, that I can’t pull it off as well as another artist who specializes in that particular style, or I don’t like someone’s attitude then I wont do the tattoo.
There are A LOT of good tattoo artists. There are hundreds if not thousands of them around the world who work day in and day out doing what they love. They give up a lot of their time to sit huntched over your body to make it just-right and I would be really stoked to get tattooed by all of them at some point. In reality, I only have so much skin, but the good news is there are more and more peoeple getting tattooed every day with new fun and interesting ideas who give great artists the freedom to express a vision with their particular style. I should make a list of who inspires me most. Instagram is an amazing service and I am very grateful for the countless artists who post their work every day. Makes me not feel so crazy working from the time I get up until I sleep drawing, painting or tattooing. I guess it’s a good thing I literally have to force myself to take time off from working but I have found a few simple things (like barefoot trail running!) that seem to help keep things balanced.
I’ve noticed it takes more and more time to draw and prepare a quality tattoo and my progressing ability to put in a solid single-pass piece of art that wont require touchups and additional layering to get a finished product means it’s time to charge more to weed out some of the bullshit. I have always tried to be fair and accommodating and will continue to make deals and work for trades as I feel is appropriate. A tattoo is going to last a lifetime. It should be expensive, thoughtful, and carry the intention as any other piece of art and this is my commitment to only producing the highest quality artwork on the highest caliber individuals. My ability to select projects based on how I feel about them is why I started doing this in the first place.
I may find that I am not as busy at first because of this attitude and will happily apply the new found “free” time to paint. My most recent obsession. I imagine a future where oil painting and tattooing share my focus equally and a balance of art-for-you and art-for-me is achieved. It is only with thoughtful intention and grace that I will reach the level of artistic development I aspire to and I appreciate your respect in and of the process.