WHAT KIND OF TATTOO CLIENT ARE YOU?
There are a vast number of different personalities in this world, but there are a few categories that really break down the different types of clients that walk through the doors of our shop. It’s important to understand what type of client you are, and how it may affect the end result of your future tattoo. I’ve decided to break these clients into 3 groups: GREEN (the most favorable), YELLOW (the middle ground), and RED (the undesirable). These clients have been put in numerical order from best to worst along with a little bit of advise for those of you that may find yourself in these categories:
- The professional is someone who has spent plenty of time in a specific trade or profession, takes pride in his or her work, and understands that time is extremely valuable. These Customers are always the best because they are patient, understand it takes time to create something great and are willing to pay top dollar for the best quality work. If this is you, then don’t change a thing…. We already love you.
2-The Open Canvas:
- The open canvas is a great customer for the artist who wants a little freedom. These customers enjoy creativity, may not have every detail sorted out in their mind, but they have a concept and trust their artist to create a great composition in a style they will excel at. Although being an open canvas can be good for the artist, you may want to at least check through a portfolio before putting all your trust in them.
- The devoted client is always a morale booster for tattoo artists. These are usually clients who where blown away by their initial tattoo from their artist or were amazed by the tattoo their friend or family member received from the shop. The devoted clients are great for promoting their favorite artist or shop but asking them which artist to go to may not be the best decision because their view may be a little biased.
4-The Tattoo Veteran:
- The tattoo veteran knows their way around tattoo shops. The veteran is usually either covered in various tattoos from multiple shops or has had at least one large piece completed such as a sleeve or back piece. Veterans understand the pricing of the tattoo industry and usually remember to tip the artist, but some veterans can be very picky about what they want and how they want it done.
- The investor understands that tattoos are not cheep and treat their purchase of a tattoo much like buying a car rather than fast food. Investors set aside their money a little bit at a time, weather that means setting up a payment plan with their artist until the first session is paid in full, or putting a little aside each payday. An investor usually does their research by going to different shops and checking through various portfolios to understand industry prices. If you don’t always have the money to pay for a quality tattoo you may consider adopting the investor’s personality and setting aside a little at a time. Some shops allow you to do a payment plan prior to your first sitting. Understand that quality costs money and no artist enjoys tattooing a cheapskate.
- Everybody at one time or another is or has been a tattoo virgin. There’s nothing wrong with being a tattoo virgin in general, but it can make your artist slightly more hesitant. Tattoo artists understand that tattoos are a painful process, so they may not be excited to tattoo a virgin in an area that will be extremely difficult or painful. If you’ve never had a tattoo and your thinking of getting one, do yourself a favor and ask your artist what you should be prepared for. Ultimately it’s your decision on size and placement, but don’t bite off more than you can handle… or it may be an unpleasant experience for you and your artist.
7-The Shop Rat:
- Being a shop rat can actually be rewarding if done right, but once you start wasting valuable time for the shop or it’s artists you may not be welcome anymore. If your going to hang out at a shop, then get tattooed by them and pay for it, or at the very least help out around the shop. Many shop rats can end up getting great deals on tattoos or even apprenticeships if they make themselves useful. If you find yourself sitting around a shop regularly and you’re not benefiting the shop in any way, then you’re wasting their time, and remember it’s a place of business not a hangout.
- Sometimes clients have traumatic experiences at tattoo shops, but there is always a perfect shop for you if you look hard enough. Getting a bad tattoo or having a generally bad experience may make a customer slightly jaded or hesitant about getting more ink, but most artists are willing to work with you and help create a much better experience than your last. If you happen to be a little jaded, remind yourself that it’s an isolated experience, so don’t assume that every artist is going to treat you the same or produce the same quality work. Give your artist the benefit of the doubt and let him or her know about your reservations so they know how to best accommodate you.
10-The Ambivalent / Apathetic:
- There are some clients who just have an itch for ink and don’t care what they get. The ambivalent / apathetic client isn’t picky about their tattoo, and unlike the open canvas, the gambler doesn’t care about creativity. You can always find an artist to tattoo this type of client, but artists can feel a little unappreciated when they take the time to do great work and the client could care less about the final result.
11-The Family Member:
- The family member can also include friends of the artists. It’s always great to make your friend or family member happy by providing them with an awesome tattoo, but tattooing family members usually comes with the “family member discount”. Usually the artist can expect to make substantially less than they would with a different type of client.
- Artists can be full of ideas and inspiration, but sometimes translating that from one artist to another can be difficult. Most artists love the idea of getting an art piece on their body forever, but remember your tattoo artist may need a little artistic freedom in order to do his or her best work, so don’t be a micro-manager.
13-The Copy Cat:
- We’ve all seen some amazing tattoos on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram. Sometimes clients find a tattoo that’s been done on someone else and can’t live without getting the exact same one on their own body. Although that anchor, infinity knot, sparrow, or flock of silhouetted birds flying away from a dandelion seem like a great idea, you may want to at least let the artist give it an original twist unless you want to be a copycat. The worst type of copycat is the one who wants a large composition that was already tattooed custom for someone else. Artist can’t use these tattoos for their portfolio without getting a harsh reprimand from other artists within the community.
- It’s never a good idea to waste an artist’s time at the shop by flaunting yourself at them. If your trying to get a free tattoo, you’re better off dealing with an owner who is single and desperate, because most artists don’t have the patience for flirts looking for a handout.
15-The Bargain Shopper:
- So you want to shop around for a tattoo? Well there’s nothing wrong with shopping around to get the best “bang for your buck”, but if you’re only looking for the best price, you will quickly be disappointed. Bargain shoppers are the clients who will ask for quotes over the phone, or quickly ask how much a tattoo will cost without ever looking at a portfolio. If you really want to get the best for your dollar, then follow the style of the investor. Look at the artists work.
- There are a few people who come around the tattoo shop and love to talk about their tattoo ideas. Usually they’re all pumped up about some large back piece or sleeve they plan on having the artist do in the distant future, but they never actually pull the trigger. Artists could care less about your amazing idea if you never actually plan on getting inked, so don’t waste their time by sharing your “awesome” concept unless you actually plan to do it.
- If you plan to have an awesome experience while getting your tattoo, then allow your artist the freedom of not being micromanaged. One thing most artists absolutely hate is when the client begins to act is if they know as much or more than the artist about the tattooing process. It’s never a good idea to tell your artist where to put a line or when to put color in. If you’ve already agreed on the design before getting the tattoo, then let him or her do it. Don’t micromanage your artist, unless you want them to avoid you like the plague in the future.
18- The Smashed:
- Coming in to any shop completely drunk or high is one of the fastest ways to get your ass kicked out. Most shops have clients sign a contract stating they have not had an alcoholic drink and are not under the influence. Not only is it irritating to be around someone who is fairly incoherent but, the tattoo itself can be negatively affected by your blood after it has been thinned out by an intoxicant. The only possible redeeming quality about this kind of client is their bankroll. The truth is, even if the client is smashed, slapping down a few hundred dollars for a tiny tattoo may change the artists mind.
- This client is possibly the worst type of client an artist can experience. Cheapskates don’t care about quality, and they don’t believe that artists deserve more money just because they have more talent or experience. Cheapskates want a tattoo for the absolute bottom dollar price, which is why many of them are covered in tattoos by scratchers who have been working out of their house. There are no redeeming qualities about this client. Combine the attributes of a cheapskate, a micro-manager, give them a few shots of whiskey and you now have the absolute worst client in tattoo history.