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Things tattoo artists want people to know

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Getting a tattoo can be a nerve-wracking experience for the person going under the needle, but they aren’t the only ones who can feel the sting of a poor tattoo experience.

Tattoo artists can oftentimes be frustrated by inconsiderate or clueless clients who make the process of getting a tattoo harder for both parties.

Here are a few things that tattoo artists wished people knew.

Tipping your tattoo artist is considered polite and standard.

Tattoos can be expensive but you should always reserve a little extra cash to account for your artist’s tip, as many artists expect some kind of tip following the completion of a tattoo.

“Tipping is a courtesy, but it is more fluid than tipping at a restaurant,” tattoo artist Jordanne Le Fae told Insider. “At a restaurant, your tip helps make up that individual’s wage. In tattooing, your tip is a way to thank the artist for doing a great job.”

This means you can tip any amount want and it will be appreciated. However, giving a very poor tip (or no tip at all) may be taken as an indication that you are unhappy with your artist’s performance.

“I personally am very thankful for anything around 10% to 15%, and clients are encouraged to give more if they are very happy with the work and the customer service they received,” added Le Fae.

Both artists and clients should act professionally in the tattoo parlor.

You should always respect the working environment of artists and act kindly while you’re in a tattoo shop.

“Oftentimes, a client comes into the shop and treats it with a weird level of disrespect that they would not normally do at any other place of business,” said Le Fae. “I would encourage clients to treat their shops with the same kind of respect that you would treat a bank, a clothing store, or a restaurant.”

In addition, when in the tattoo shop, be sure to ask staff if there are appropriate places to stow your belongings and never wander anywhere you’re not explicitly invited to be

Asking for an exact copy of a tattoo you found online can be considered offensive, unethical, and legally questionable.

Just because a design is being etched onto skin, it doesn’t make it exempt from copyright issues or the ethical implications of using another artist’s work.

“If you walk into a tattoo shop with a photo from [online] and request that your artist does that exact design, that is not only stealing and offensive to the original artist and the client that has that original tattoo, but it is also offensive to the artist you are asking to do it,” said Le Fae.

Though most people are unlikely to run into legal trouble over an unoriginal tattoo design, there are some cases in which tattoo artists or tattoo bearers — a notable example being Mike Tyson — have contested the non-authorized use of their tattoo designs.

Instead of trying to get your tattoo artist to use someone else’s art, try doing your research and finding an artist who will work with you to create an original design in a style you love.

The cost of a tattoo depends on many different factors.

In addition to the artist’s skill level, prices for tattoos are based on the size, complexity, and the time it takes to complete a design.

In most cases, showing up to a tattoo parlor and asking questions like, “What does a sleeve cost?” or “How much for a rose?” won’t give you the answers you’re looking for.

“Vague questions do not give us the required information to give you a proper quote,” Le Fae told Insider. “You can compare it to asking, ‘How much is a car?’ It depends on the make, what features the car has, if it’s new or used, and so on. Similar considerations apply to getting a tattoo.”

If you’re looking to get some new ink, be sure to have a clear plan in mind when it comes to your design.

Try to figure out roughly how large you want the tattoo to be and bring in visual examples of what you’re looking for if possible. That will make it easier for your artist to give you an accurate price quote.

Pricing can vary from artist to artist

Typically, experienced and skilled tattoo artists with extensive portfolios command higher rates than less experienced artists.

In many cases, different artists at the same studio will charge varying prices for the exact same design.

“When contacting an artist, be prepared to have specific details of what you are looking for in order to get any sort of estimate. It is generally going to be more helpful to find out what the artist’s hourly rate is,” said Le Fae.

Being offered a free or low-cost touch-up doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of your new ink. It also doesn’t mean you’ll definitely need a touch-up.

Most professional tattoo artists will offer a free or low-cost touch-up for your new tattoo. That’s because human skin is a living canvas and its reaction to being tattooed can be unpredictable.

But being offered a free touch-up session doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take care of your new tattoo.

“For me, touch-ups are complimentary as long as my client has taken care of their new tattoo. If they went into a hot tub the day after getting a tattoo and it wrecked the tattoo, that does not count,” said Le Fae. “But if a client does follow directions and part of the design needs to be adjusted, then that does fall into the free touch-up category.”

Similarly, just because you’re offered a free touch-up doesn’t mean your tattoo will necessarily need it. Though it’s natural to be anxious about the look of your finished ink, getting unnecessary touch-ups can interfere with or delay the normal tattoo healing process.

“A touch-up is offered in case any part of the tattoo heals differently than expected. But not all tattoos need a touch-up,” Le Fae told Insider. “If you are happy with your tattoo once it is healed, then it does not need to be touched up.”

Avoid touching equipment or surfaces in a tattoo shop without permission.

It may be an art form, but tattooing is also a type of medical procedure. The process involves needles, meaning means that surfaces, supplies, and tools must be completely sterile.

“By touching items in the tattoo parlor, you may make a sterile environment unclean and then the artist has to clean it again before beginning to tattoo,”  said Le Fae.

That risk of contamination goes both ways. Le Fae said you should never put food or drink items on the floor of a tattoo parlor. Though good tattoo shops disinfect and mop their entire shop every day, there’s always the possibility that bodily fluids from a previous client could still be lingering on the floor.


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