You know you have an addiction when you no longer count the number of times you have done something but rather the number of hours spent doing it. By something, I mean getting tattooed and by addiction I mean, I am hooked.
I am not a professional. I am not an artist. I cannot tattoo. To be fair, I cannot really even draw but I have a true appreciation for the artwork that these talented guys and gals deliver onto my body each and every time and despite not being able to speak from the artist’s point of view, at over 50+ hours of tattoo time I think I do have a little bit of experience on the subject. I am proud when I walk around because I feel pretty, oh so pretty and I particularly felt like this at the Brighton Tattoo Convention that I attended on Sunday, the 1st of May when I was stopped multiple times for a look at the pieces I show off proudly. I grinned and gushed and posed while photographs were taken of my arms and legs and happily provided the names of the artist’s involved because they deserve every little bit of credit for these pretty pictures I get to wear daily, for the rest of my life!
Having spent a considerable amount of time being tattooed in the UK since I arrived, I got to thinking about the rituals that I have before being tattooed and how I prepare for a long session. I put the question out to my followers and readers on social media and I found that bar one (You know who you are Christopher), everyone seems to have similar rituals leading up to their tattoo appointment. I know that everyone is different and not everything works for everyone but I thought I would share some of my own rituals that I seem to have been doing subconsciously up until recently.
Ready for a tattoo? Communicate.
I don’t seem to specifically sit and map out my next tattoo, though I know many people who do. I always tell myself that I will finish my arm next or do my chest or plan out my leg sleeve but all of these plans seem to fade away when I see a pretty picture on Instagram or a share on my Facebook feed and get a random idea and roll with it. I was never really the biggest dotwork fan and never would have imagined getting a half dotwork sleeve but now I have it and I love it and cannot wait for more! (Nudge nudge Inga).
So the first step is to see something I like, make contact with the artist and then meet up for a chat or communicate via email / Facebook etc. Whichever medium works best for the artist and me at the time. (I find that I follow many tattoo artists on Instagram specifically and continuously troll pages when I’ve got nothing better to do). This is the time to bounce ideas of each other, listen to your artists suggestions and let them know what you’re looking for as well. It is important to give us much information to the tattooer as possible, they are not mind readers no matter how talented they are! Of course, they are there to offer support and assistance but it helps having an idea about placement, size and the end result you are looking for.
Take into consideration that these artists are people too, they have lives and families. If you are not sure what the best time would be to contact your artist is, ask them. Try to stick to normal ‘working hours’ if you can instead of emailing at 2am with your random idea. I know I have made that mistake before but have learnt my lesson, realistically I wouldn’t want my clients calling me at 2am to book flights so why would you expect the tattoo artist to do the same?
Good tattoos are not cheap or FREE!
The ever important discussion of MONEY should also come up at this time. I would like to know what I am paying for my tattoo and be able to budget realistically, don’t leave this for an awkward conversation the day of. I always know what I am going to pay, have my cash ready and make sure I try to initiate the payment at the end of a session (Unless I am too busy chatting, that can happen).
Without sounding rude or condescending, I don’t believe this to be a haggling session. If an artist sets their price and quotes it to me, that is what I will pay. I think it can be extremely insulting to try to bargain an artist down to a price you are willing to pay, especially on a first session. You may find that artists run specials or have pieces that they would like to tattoo for a lower rate than normal, it always works out cheaper to sit for longer and so this is a great way to get an amazing piece for a good price from a fantastic artist. It is also important to remember that many tattoo artists recognise their loyal clients and offer preferential rates to people that get tattooed on a regular basis. If you’re going to be rude about the pricing on day 1, don’t expect a discount on the next session… I would love to hear the comments of artists on this opinion but remember, I am tattoo canvas and am just speaking from what I have seen in my time of sitting in many a tattoo chair.
Secure your spot!
The way I see it, you are committing to hours of this artists time that they will not resell to anyone else so you’re less likely to cancel once you have financially committed to your appointment.
Next and probably the most important step at this stage, I book in my time and pay my deposit. A lot of people don’t seem to realize that a deposit is required for a session/piece. The way I see it, you are committing to hours of this artists time that they will not resell to anyone else so you’re less likely to cancel once you have financially committed to your appointment. I don’t know an artist today who doesn’t require a deposit to secure the appointment so if you are reading this, forewarned is forearmed. It is also quite important to ask how your artist prefers payment for both the deposit and the balance. Many artists still don’t operate on card machines, if you need to have cash with you beforehand it is good to find this out instead of arriving for your appointment and running around looking for a cash machine before you can even get the stencil on your body. That said, I have been to artists who do accept cards as well as payment via PayPal. One artist or studio will differ from another so despite possibly having had a tattoo before, this experience could be very different from that of your first tattoo. Rather arm yourself with all the information you need and then leave the last of your focus for the mental preparation required in order to be pounded with ink and needle.
So you have an appointment, you have paid your deposit and the artist is working on drawing out the piece that you are ready to have tattooed… but suddenly you need to ask a thousand questions. ASK THEM! Your tattoo artist is there to help you, they know best, this is their livelihood, their specialty. If anyone can answer any tattoo questions or uncertainties you may have, it will be the person who is about to permanently decorate your temple. Tattoos are a beautiful thing but can be very intimidating, especially for those who haven’t had many or any. Make sure that on the day you arrive at the studio for your appointment on time, you are comfortable, you have had all of your questions answered, you are happy with everything that has been agreed and you are mentally ready (Not sure you ever actually get fully mentally prepared) to sit in that chair and take the needles.
Next time I will focus a little more on my actual pre-tattoo rituals and what to expect on the day.
Happy TATTOO Booking xx