Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tattoo Etiquette Lesson 2: Don't touch me

After running into a client/friend of mine today and hearing the following story, I decided to write the second lesson in Tattoo Etiquette. The second lesson is simply, "Don't touch other peoples tattoos unless you have consent from that person." If you have visible tattoos, you've probably been prodded by people touching your tattoos without permission. If not, you're lucky. Personally I've had it with strangers that have the seemingly uncontrollable urge to invade your personal space without asking first.

This is my friends story. While on a whale watch two days after we colored in her medium sized shoulder piece, an unknown woman poked her finger into the fresh tattoo while she had her back turned. Then she made a comment about the piece. My friend turned around and retorted, "Don't touch me! That's still healing!" She was disgusted by being touched on a potentially open wound by a stranger without gloves. It's absurd that this happens way too often.

Throughout my life as a tattooed person, this has happened to me. I've been poked, rubbed, grabbed, and prodded on my tattoos in public areas. Strangers have even tried to reach out and touch my chest because it's tattooed. More often than I'd like to remember, I've had to shoo people away from touching me.

We wonder why people do this, but surely there is no answer. Do people think that they're welcome to touch someone just because they chose to decorate their skin? While we're on this subject of touching, you can stop staring too. There are plenty of pictures of tattooed online or in magazines that your can buy and stare at to your hearts content. Don't let your manners fly out the door when you see a decorated person.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tattoo Etiquette Lesson 1: Previewing designs

Some people aren't aware of proper tattoo etiquette so I figured I'd take a shot at informing the general public about reviewing designs. If you've sought out an artist and chose them to do your piece, you should trust them. If not, you should keep searching. The creative process is hindered by multiple emails asking about the progress of the design. In fact it's quite annoying, can inhibit motivation, or squash the excitement the artist had for the piece that was present during the consultation.

Another reason we don't like emailing in advance is because some people like to take that design and have someone else tattoo it on them. It's happened to me before, and it's a real kick in the ass. They think they're getting it done cheaper somewhere else. We try to take a deposit that will pay for our time for drawing, but often we put more time into it than expected. We'd make more by doing the tattoo than just the drawing.

Instead of being a buggaboo, make sure you're fully prepared for your initial consultation. This is a very important step of the process. Bring lots of reference pics with detailed descriptions if need be. These references don't need to be pictures of other peoples tattoos, but they can be to show a subject matter, composition, style, or color scheme you like. You can use the internet search illustrations, paintings, or whatever your heart desires. If it's a realistic tattoo, bring in a photo book or clear picture. Never ask an artist to copy someone else's tattoo. This isn't a position we want to be put in. You can also go through your artists portfolio and show them certain aspects of the designs that you like. Give the artist your email address and let them now that they're welcome to email the drawing in advance if they chose to. If you're confident with all of the information you provided and your artist, there shouldn't be a problem.

Most changes to a tattoo design can be made at the appointment. It's beneficial to have you there to make changes so we can work with you during each step. Believe me, it can save a lot of time. If you hate the design, then the appointment will be rescheduled. This is why I ask people NOT to take time off from their jobs unless they have an extrememly flexible schedule. You never know what can happen.

The only time you should email your artist, is if you change your design ideas since the consultation or have to reschedule. In that case, please let the artist know of your change of heart so they don't waste their time drawing up something that you don't want. In the case of rescheduling, if they decide not to work on your design until your next appointment gets closer, the may spend their time on other drawings that need to be done, relaxing or whatever their heart desires.

I've gotten most of my tattoos on the cuff. It's rare that the artist shows me the piece in advance, and I've never asked for it beforehand either. I specifically sought after this person and don't want to disturb them or their normal artistic process. Not to mention if they're that good, then I realize they're probably very busy and don't want me up their asses! I give them a lot of free reign because I want them to run with the minimal ideas that I give them. Hence, I've been extremely happy with all of my tattoo work except my very first tattoo that I walked in and picked off the wall and got done illegally since I was underage (but that's a whole different blog entirely).

Being a tattoo artist, I know the ins and outs of the studio. Don't think that by watching a tattoo show, you're given any insight into what actually happens at a shop. While it's called Reality TV, it's far away from reality. Those people or actors are specifically picked by story writers and producers and directed what to say on camera. Not to mention it's highly edited to further portray the story they want the public to see on TV. Don't be duped and walk into a studio like you know what to expect. Never call with 21 questions either. Come to the shop to ask questions, and the artists or desk person will give you answers.

Every artist works differently. It can be specific to the job at hand. One might chose to draw the design on paper and go directly to stencil on skin. Another method is to draw sections of the actual piece and put this together on your skin in conjunction with some pen to make the final design. Then there is the freehand method in which the artist applies pen to the skin and sketches the design on the skin itself. Pertaining to completed drawings on paper, the piece can look great on paper yet horrible when placed on the body. Even though a tracing of the area is made at the consultation, the artist might see you in person and changes might need to be arranged to fit and enhance the area where it's placed. Therefore, why get hooked on a design beforehand if in person it doesn't fit? Mostly it depends on what you're getting in regards to how the artist will apply it. Leave it up to the them on how they do their work.

Hopefully this wil give you a little insight into your next experience. Perhaps these are things you already know. Work with your artist instead of being arbitrary. You're more likely get a highly creative piece in which the artist will push the limits of their skill to the fullest.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Goodbye summer 2011

I've been working on some very fun pieces lately, and I want to keep it up. It's such a bummer when someone requests me on short notice, and I'm too busy to get them in. However the pieces I've been working on require a lot of time and prep. I do have some time opening up beginning Sept 14 for Wed and Thurs mornings for 2 hr or less pieces from 9:30am - 11:30am. There;s also a cancellation list I keep and have surprisingly had several cancellations lately. Fear not, I'll do whatever I can to get you in asap.

Enjoy the last couple of days of summer and have a great Labor Day bereft of work if possible. We all deserve some time to relax and enjoy life.