Rian Othus

Tattoo Checklist – Artist Version

We present to you the tattooing checklist for you tattooers, tattoo artists, tat bros and kitchen magicians! As you may notice after reading this article, there is no Teen Vogue esq writing. This is straight to the point and not dressed up. There is also a printable version at the end of the document.

Today we will be going over a simple checklist for your upcoming tattoo appointments. Let us skip past the initial consultation stage and assume you already have your deposit, an agreed upon art piece and time booked for the appointment.

2 Days Before the Tattoo Appointment

  • Check in with your client. Has something come up where they cannot make the appointment? Are they sick? Are they nervous?
  • Do they have any changes that they want to see in the design? Find out and get to work when you have a chance.
  • Get all drawings done and sent off, if needed to the client for approval.
  • Amend any pricing at this time and come to an agreement as to what the final price is, if changed.

The Night Before the Tattoo Appointment

  • Get your client information setup. I use manila folders to keep all of the artwork, client contact information etc. on hand. If you utilize any cloud-based appointment applications, Google Calendar, OneDrive or if you store everything on your tablet.
  • Sterilize all equipment that you will need for the coming day.
  • If you are industrious, prepare the stencil and set it aside in a safe, clean location, for tomorrow’s work.

The Day of the Tattoo Appointment

  • Get ready. Clean your space, disinfect everything.
  • Get all positioning of furniture done and do a simple mockup of what you are going to use for the tattoo.
  • Throw down a dental bib, stack the pigments, machines, needles, tubes, wash bottles as well as whatever else you need for the tattoo.
  • Do not get setup yet.

The Client’s Arrival

  • Greet your client and go over everything that you plan to do for this session.
  • Ask if they have any questions about what is going to take place, if they have any concerns about the design, placing and pain.
  • Keep them occupied as you clean and prep the area to be tattooed.
  • Do a quick muscular mapping and get that stencil on their body.

The Setup

  • Setup all equipment in from of the client.
  • Break open needles and tubes so they can see that you are using clean gear.
  • Dispense pigments and break off some paper towels so you aren’t pulling from the roll.
  • Stay clean and wear gloves. Change them as needed to ensure sterility.

The Tattoo Procedure

  • Do what you do, when you tattoo.
  • Treat the encounter like an Uber ride. Let your client dictate the pace of conversation, topics to be discussed and when the breaks should be taken.
  • If you must answer phones, keep it to the shop line only and make sure to deglove when picking up the handset.
  • Keep your music to a level that doesn’t interfere with the ability to talk if needed. Better yet, let the client decide what you should listen to and how loud it should be.
  • Put your phone on silent and don’t check it while active in the procedure. If you need to check your phone, do so during a break.

Break Time

  • Take only necessary breaks during the tattoo.
  • 5 minutes or less every 1.5-2 hours, if needed.
  • 1 longer break at 3-4 hours in (30-45 minutes for a meal)
  • Stay off social media and your phone. You will lose track of time.
  • Make an effort to check in with your client during this time to see if everything is good with them. Ask questions and ensure they understand where you are in the process.

The Breakdown

  • Discuss your aftercare in detail with the client and answer any questions they may have regarding the care of their tattoo.
  • Clean hand. Dirty Hand.
  • Break down and don’t get a needle stick.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces.
  • Sweep and mop your area.
  • Take out the garbage if you utilize an open-top trash receptacle and replace trash bag.
  • File all relevant paperwork in the DONE pile.

Collecting Payment

  • Ask them how the experience was and anything they feel you could improve upon.
  • Give any media links, business cards and aftercare sheets.
  • Get your Google, Yelp or business reviews.
  • Collect payment. If you are a soloist, contracted artist who handles payments or at a convention, give the client time to offer a tip without any leading.
  • Setup any additional appointments as needed.
  • Take a picture of your work.

After They Leave

  • Start post work on any images collected, if you do such things.
  • Post to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter at your normal intervals with what you accomplished, if necessary.
  • Keep artwork and photos in relevant client folder / cloud location.
  • Send outreach email if needed to client 1-2 weeks after completion.
  • If needed, schedule a touch-up.

Tattoo Checklist – Artist Version

We present to you the tattooing checklist for you tattooers, tattoo artists, tat bros and kitchen magicians! As you may notice after reading this article, there is no Teen Vogue esq writing. This is straight to the point and not dressed up. There is also a printable version at the end of the document.

Today we will be going over a simple checklist for your upcoming tattoo appointments. Let us skip past the initial consultation stage and assume you already have your deposit, an agreed upon art piece and time booked for the appointment.

2 Days Before the Tattoo Appointment

  • Check in with your client. Has something come up where they cannot make the appointment? Are they sick? Are they nervous?
  • Do they have any changes that they want to see in the design? Find out and get to work when you have a chance.
  • Get all drawings done and sent off, if needed, to the client for approval.
  • Amend any pricing at this time and come to an agreement as to what the final price is, if changed.

The Night Before the Tattoo Appointment

  • Get your client information setup. I use manila folders to keep all of the artwork, client contact information etc. on hand. If you utilize any cloud-based appointment applications, Google Calendar, OneDrive or if you store everything on your tablet.
  • Sterilize all equipment that you will need for the coming day.
  • If you are industrious, prepare the stencil and set it aside in a safe, clean location, for tomorrow’s work.

The Day of the Tattoo Appointment

  • Get ready. Clean your space, disinfect everything.
  • Get all positioning of furniture done and do a simple mockup of what you are going to use for the tattoo.
  • Throw down a dental bib, stack the pigments, machines, needles, tubes, wash bottles as well as whatever else you need for the tattoo.
  • Do not get setup yet.

The Client’s Arrival

  • Greet your client and go over everything that you plan to do for this session.
  • Ask if they have any questions about what is going to take place, if they have any concerns about the design, placement or pain.
  • Keep them occupied as you clean and prep the area to be tattooed.
  • Do a quick muscular mapping and get that stencil on their body.

The Setup

  • Setup all equipment in from of the client.
  • Break open needles and tubes so they can see that you are using clean gear.
  • Dispense pigments and break off some paper towels so you aren’t pulling from the roll.
  • Stay clean and wear gloves. Change them as needed to ensure sterility.

The Tattoo Procedure

  • Do what you do, when you tattoo.
  • Treat the encounter like an Uber ride. Let your client dictate the pace of conversation, topics to be discussed and when the breaks should be taken.
  • If you must answer phones, keep it to the shop line only and make sure to deglove when picking up the handset.
  • Keep your music to a level that doesn’t interfere with the ability to talk if needed. Better yet, let the client decide what you should listen to and how loud it should be.
  • Put your phone on silent and don’t check it while active in the procedure. If you need to check your phone, do so during a break.

Break Time

  • Take only necessary breaks during the tattoo.
  • 5 minutes or less every 1.5-2 hours, if needed.
  • 1 longer break at 3-4 hours in (30-45 minutes for a meal)
  • Stay off social media and your phone. You will lose track of time.
  • Make an effort to check in with your client during this time to see if everything is good with them. Ask questions and ensure they understand where you are in the process.

The Breakdown

  • Discuss your aftercare in detail with the client and answer any questions they may have regarding the care of their tattoo.
  • Clean hand. Dirty Hand.
  • Break down and don’t get a needle stick.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces.
  • Sweep and mop your area.
  • Take out the garbage if you utilize an open-top trash receptacle and replace trash bag.
  • File all relevant paperwork in the DONE pile.

Collecting Payment

  • Ask them how the experience was and anything they feel you could improve upon.
  • Give any media links, business cards and aftercare sheets.
  • Get your Google, Yelp or business reviews.
  • Collect payment. If you are a soloist, contracted artist who handles payments or at a convention, give the client time to offer a tip without any leading.
  • Setup any additional appointments as needed.
  • Take a picture of your work.

After They Leave

  • Start post work on any images collected, if you do such things.
  • Post to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter at your normal intervals with what you accomplished, if necessary.
  • Keep artwork and photos in relevant client folder / cloud location.
  • Send outreach email if needed to client 1-2 weeks after completion.
  • If needed, schedule a touch-up.
 

 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rian Othus got his initial break into the tattooing industry in the early 2000’s. He worked in many locations throughout the United States and Canada. The opinions expressed on this site are based on his experiences and time spent in the industry. Some are also from amateur scientific study.

The journey to increase his knowledge began on the road. At times Rian had to travel far from home. Others, he had to beg to get any information. It was an amazing journey and it paved the way for Rian to start analyzing the tattoo industry to figure out where he fit into it.

These articles are written to engage and educate those who are out in the wild world of tattooing, working in a shop or just enjoying the culture. He admits that some of the articles may be very specific regarding who they are written for, but hopes that anyone who reads them is able to take things from a different angle or better understand what someone else may be experiencing.

Rian Othus
Website: https://tattooartistsblog.com
https://www.instagram.com/rian_othus


 

Tattoo Pain – Client Version

Tattoos hurt. What can you do to cope with that pain?

Regardless of your best buddy who has skin like granite, tattoo pain is real.

It’s something we have all come to expect when being stabbed with needles. Even if it is, pain shouldn’t be a determining factor when deciding to get a tattoo. Let’s look into some basic principles as to why tattoos hurt, how they are done and what you can do to manage the pain of tattoo, before, during and after the procedure.

hands covered with blood
Photo by it’s me neosiam on Pexels.com Thanks Becky

So, Explain to me what’s going on!

i.e. the tattoo Process.

(PREFACE: Not to go in depth about the types of tattoo machines out there, as there is a plethora of opinions formulated by those far more educated in the workings of those machines, but in this article we will focus on using a coil machine. Stay tuned for a later article about different types of machines.)

Tattooing, Why hurt so much!?

So let’s start with the basics and break the whole thing down Barney style. Tattooing is the process of getting ink into the skin and getting it to stay, permanently. In the western world this is done using a tattoo machine (also known as – tattoo gun, tattoo device) where a grouping of needles is place inside a receiving tube and attached to a bar that is connected to said machine via a flat metal spring (in 1 or 2 pieces.). It moves up and down pushing the needle into the skin, creating a small opening wherein the needle is retracted and “pulls or pushes” the ink into the skin.

How the machines get ink in your skin

Some expansion to the steps above – The tattoo machine works in an simple harmonic motion, driving the needles attached to a bar up and down… quickly. The receiving tube has a reservoir that collects a suspension of pigment by dipping the needles and receiving tube into an ink cap which contains suspended pigment also known as ink. The ink that is collected is pushed into the skin and captured by immune cells and held in place. Phew! (This is seriously overly simplified, but, I will do a proper write up in the future)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Picture a vibrating loose meat sandwich shoving pickles and onions into … Something?
(this is an absolutely terrible analogy and I asked my wife for help figuring this one out. She literally looked at me with a questionable gaze, crinkled up her nose and asked to me to repeat it a second time. After hearing twice she advised me to move on from it and not do this again.)

Shit. I got a bit off topic. Back to the post.

SO… YA! Getting tattooed hurts. And yes, I know that pain is totally subjective. Your friend Becky had her ribs blasted for 12 hours straight and didn’t even blink an eye, while you, a discerning tattoo aficionado, sat for 2 lines on your wrist at a quarter inch long and screamed like a boiled rat.

Getting help with pain

What you don’t know is that Becky may have had a great artist sit her down and walk her through how to cope with the tattoo process and the inevitable pain. Now you, dear reader, can take with you a couple tips that should help you sit like a corpse through the short, or long, session you have coming up.

Fighting Tattoo Pain

Here is the ol’ blog list for ya’ll:

1. Come in with a good night’s rest.

Yup. This is a great way to help stave off any crazy pain sensations, and its one of the easiest and cheapest ways to help you sit through a tattoo. Studies show (not a full list but the abstract and footnotes have some great links to additional studies) that sleep and the interpretation of pain are inextricably linked.

What does that mean? If you stay up all night crushing Redbull’s and Mountain Dew Code Red while running dual instances of Fortnite, and hit the sack at 7 AM, you won’t sit well for your tattoo at noon. Your body needs rest. sorry insomniacs but not sorry narcoleptics. It gets rid of all those shitty hormones and chemicals that make you feel like crap. Your brain rests and it can deal with the bullshit of getting stabbed a million times. So, please, get some sleep. (8 hours or more is a good idea).

2. Have a good meal a few hours before coming in for a tattoo

Eating can take your pain away. I am serious. Look around you if you live in the USA. We are always hurting and gosh darn it we love to eat! Good thing is that having a delicious meal will help you with any pain associated during a tattoo. Your body responds to pain with inflammation, which is what happens when you get stabbed. You get stabbed, your body goes, “OH SHIT!” and releases an inflammatory response that gets healing started. If you are more sensitive to that response, your ability to deal with the pain is limited. This means you are going to be a in for a world of hurt.

So eat something that you enjoy before, during a break in tattooing and just after. Your brain will release the fancy things called endorphins which will help with the pain by making you feel happy.

3. Keep caffeine to a minimum.

Oh my goodness, you can’t make it out of bed without a double pot of french roast. That may spell trouble for your tattoo session. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor which means it can increase blood pressure and close up them veins in your body. Caffeine does not thin your blood. The “thinning” of your blood that is noticeable after ingesting caffeine is due to decreased efficacy of your platelets. Platelets are the things that form scabs and stop bleeding when you get injured.

While the exact mechanism isn’t fully understood (at the time this article is written) you can wager a bet that the decrease in platelet function will increase your body’s propensity to bleed during a tattoo.

( As an aside, the additives in energy drinks exacerbate this effect, making them a double whammy)

What is a good idea, if you are addicted to caffeine like I, is keep your intake low. 1-2 cups 4-6 hours before you tattoo. also, drink water.

4. Drink water

You have had this shoveled into your brain since childhood (and i say that because no, little person aged 10 years, you’re double digits but you are not getting tattooed). Being hydrated is a good thing. Remember above where I had mentioned something about inflammation? That process is part of what influences your pain tolerance when getting tattooed. Here is an article that is grossly overqualified for how I type but goes into great detail about how and why being hydrated is good for pain management.

5. Learn to meditate

If you’re from a place that looks towards left leaning cultures as a place where hypocrisy reigns supreme and all folks are coo-coo, you may have cringed or become uncomfortable at the above mentioned idea. “What chu talkin’ ’bout bhoy. I ain’t gone waste my time doing no medititates! I can handle the pain like a real man-uh.” Sadly, you would be wrong there my friend. Meditating doesn’t mean you have to take up a vegan lifestyle and join a naked hot yoga class,. What it means is that you should be focusing your attention to something other than whatever the fuck it is you are thinking about currently.

This may spell disaster to anyone with ADD or ADHD but it is a great trick to spin through time and keep the interpreted pain at bay while getting a tattoo.

I have had the luck of meeting many people who were open to the idea of focused pain management over the years I have worked tattooing. I tell them to bring something to the appointment that helps them “veg out”. This is key though, it has to be focused to the individual.

The Audiophile Tattoo Client

  • If someone is always listening to music as a way to separate from their surroundings, they are triggered through audio stimulation (their ears). Having a horror movie on with tense music and screaming will ensure a short sit so keep things calm. Put on some Enya.

The Cinephile Tattoo Client

  • For people who lose themselves in the splendor of some visual stimulus, I tell them to bring in whatever they feel comfortable watching. It can be a movie or a TV series, but something that they can strap some headphones on and watch.

The Haphephile Tattoo Client

  • For those unlucky enough to be stimulated by touch more than anything, (think you get lost with massages) they are a hit or miss client. I have had some people who were good holding someone else’s hand to sit for an eternity, others are good with covering their faces with a soft or silky blanket/garment/towel. Sadly, some of those people just fucking laser focus in on the pain and sit like absolute crap. There is little to do to get them through the tattoo process other than lying to them about time and the length of the procedure so far.

6. Take some Tylenol or Advil.

While the majority of tattooers out there are undecided on the effects of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) on a tattoo, I have used them sparingly for years as a way to fight inflammation and pain during a procedure. **Note – Make sure an adequate medical history is conducted and permission from a medical professional has been given before utilizing any NSAIDs during or after a procedure** I won’t go into the pharmacokinetics but this shit works but you know that they do work due to their success globally. This tip also does not suggest to pound back 12 advil with a Redbull during your sick tat session. Please, be responsible.

Taking an NSAID after the tattoo procedure is completed also can help with pain or inflammation. Especially with those marathon sessions. Go talk to your PCP and get some feedback about how and why these may be a good tool in your tattoo artist / client arsenal.

7. Take one long break and a couple short breaks during the tattoo procedure.

Every hour take a 5 minute break to rest and adjust your eyes and allow the client to move about. At 3.5 hours, let them get a good meal and hydrate. This simple process will help in people sitting 9+ hours consistently.

This process isn’t to be broken up for phone calls, text messages, social media, cigarettes or consultations. Set up long appointments with the full intention of that tattoo being done your only goal for the day. Do not get interrupted and don’t get sidetracked. Focus on your client and what they are going through to complete a marathon session or that short 2 line session that gives you so much grief.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So that’s it for this article. Give me feedback or comments below and share the fuck outta this page so we can get the industry aligned with a SOP.

 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rian Othus got his initial break into the tattooing industry in the early 2000’s. He worked in many locations throughout the United States and Canada. The opinions expressed on this site are based on his experiences and time spent in the industry. Some are also from amateur scientific study.

The journey to increase his knowledge began on the road. At times Rian had to travel far from home. Others, he had to beg to get any information. It was an amazing journey and it paved the way for Rian to start analyzing the tattoo industry to figure out where he fit into it.

These articles are written to engage and educate those who are out in the wild world of tattooing, working in a shop or just enjoying the culture. He admits that some of the articles may be very specific regarding who they are written for, but hopes that anyone who reads them is able to take things from a different angle or better understand what someone else may be experiencing.

Rian Othus
Website: https://tattooartistsblog.com
https://www.instagram.com/rian_othus


 

Tattoo Checklist -Client Version

Whether you’re getting ready to sit through a marathon session or a single needle prick, here’s a checklist to make sure you’re prepared for the big tattoo day. We also attached a printable link at the bottom of the page to make sure you have a friendly reminder to post on your fridge.

Shower. Be a good client

oval mirror near toilet bowl

You dirty fucker. Please go into your tattoo session bathed and smelling neutral. No heavy cologne/perfume. Also, don’t shave your tattoo area unless specified by the artist. If you sever your kneecap while trying to trim the chewbacca growth you acquired during your trip abroad, you can’t get tattooed.

Loose fitting clothes that aren’t white or light in nature.

woman in white shirt

Please don’t wear white clothes. You may look chaste and virginal but you will get ink on them. Also, being comfortable is key when being stabbed so make sure you have clothes that are loose fitting for your tattoo. If you are a texture person, silk is amazing.

Good night’s sleep.

photo of person holding alarm clock
Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush on Pexels.com

Sleep is key to your body having the tools to fight off pain. If you are sleep deprived you will not enjoy the tattoo process as it will feel like you are being tortured. Get around 8 hours of sleep before your tattoo appointment, or just like, everyday.

Be a good client – No alcohol or drugs please.

photo of man smoking blunt

You can’t give consent while intoxicated, no matter how little you feel you have imbibed. Your coherence is key when making a life-long decision, and we are pretty sure it is illegal to be fucked up in most states. So, hold off on that martini and bong rip until after your tattoo session. Even better, recharge your brain a bit by letting off for 72 hours. This will give your body time to stock up and store those rad endorphins that you burn getting fucked up. Marijuana included.

Have a good breakfast.

breakfast

Eating gives you strength and feeds that endorphin producing monster of a body so you can sit through any length of tattoo session. Don’t leave yourself dealing with hunger pains, eat something.

Hydrate yo’self

sunset cup water drink

Water. The element of life! Drink it. You will lose fluid during your tattoo. The magic of water also helps with the inflammation you get during a tattoo, which in turn decreases pain. Less inflammation, less pain. It’s a win win.

Tattoo Snacks

woman sitting on beige floor tile

Having a boost of fuel during your tattoo can help some people sit longer. Keep the snacks light, somewhat infrequent during the tattoo session. Also, check with your tattooist to see if they have any issues with the snacks you want to bring in with you, or if it’s even okay to bring food in at all. If it’s not okay to bring snack into the tattoo area, plan to take a short break if you need to fuel up.

Sound

white headphones

Sometimes, listening to music is the best. If you are someone who zones the hell out listening to music, bring something to focus on while getting tattooed. Keep it light, no heavy shit, and relax your session away.

Travel to and from Your Tattoo

automobile automotive blurred background car

If you are planning a larger session, or if you have had issues like:

  1. Fainting while giving blood
  2. Lightheartedness
  3. Low blood sugar

Get a ride to and from the tattoo appointment. Or, if you just like to ride in style, grab an Uber and help your local rideshare provider. Feeling frugal and eco friendly? Take the goddamned bus.

Taking Breaks – Be safe a client!

watch on a wrist

Taking breaks can be great but, if you take too many, or too often, your body goes into repair mode. This means your tattoo will hurt more than if you just sat through the mild discomfort. Take a break for 5 minutes every 1-2 hours to stretch your legs and get some blood pumping. If you make it 3-4 hours and the pain is getting to you, take a 30 minute break and grab a meal. When you come back, you’ll be ready to sit until the end of your session.

Paying for you Tattoo

Handful of cash money

For most tattoo establishments, bring cash as it is preferred. Ask ahead if there are any other options, especially if you’re uncomfortable carrying rainmaker money on your person.

Tipping Your Artist – Should you as a client?

person who may be a client doing thumbs up

Tipping is complimentary.  What does complimentary mean? If you want to compliment their service and work, give them money. 20% for small tattoos where the artist has gone above and beyond is standard. 10% good work but a bland experience. 0% for anything else. Its complimentary!

Thanks for reading, and here is the printable link. Tattoo Checklist- Client Version

 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rian Othus got his initial break into the tattooing industry in the early 2000’s. He worked in many locations throughout the United States and Canada. The opinions expressed on this site are based on his experiences and time spent in the industry. Some are also from amateur scientific study.

The journey to increase his knowledge began on the road. At times Rian had to travel far from home. Others, he had to beg to get any information. It was an amazing journey and it paved the way for Rian to start analyzing the tattoo industry to figure out where he fit into it.

These articles are written to engage and educate those who are out in the wild world of tattooing, working in a shop or just enjoying the culture. He admits that some of the articles may be very specific regarding who they are written for, but hopes that anyone who reads them is able to take things from a different angle or better understand what someone else may be experiencing.

Rian Othus
Website: https://tattooartistsblog.com
https://www.instagram.com/rian_othus


 

Tattoo Bros: My Thoughts. Tattoo Artist Version

This is my first article and it’s about tattoo bros. My first article is what I hope to be a recurring effort regarding the state and my personal interpretation of the tattoo industry. While this article is filled with sarcasm, I hit my actual point at the end. I hope it is entertaining and informative. SOOOO, here we go.

 

The Tattoo Bro

Hello tattoo artists! While this post is focused more on you than the clients, I will be doing up a similar post that is client-centric soon. This week’s article is based off a simple question I ask every client who comes in to get tattooed:

If a stylist treated you like most tattooers treat their clients, would you let them do your hair?”

I know this may seem like a silly question but, really, where are we in the industry right now?

 

So, you may be a tattoo bro?

I have found the overarching theme of “Tattoo Bros” permeating my conversations and consultations recently, and it concerns me. What is a Tattoo Bro? Let me give you a few examples my clients gave me:

 

  1. They wear Affliction and Ed Hardy shirts with bedazzled pants/jeans.
  2. They are beyond well coiffed and smell of aftershave and cologne heavily.
  3. Their shops play metal/deathcore/Limp Bizkit on repeat all day.
  4. They drive expensive cars with loud exhaust and post pictures of said cars instead of tattoos or artwork on social media.
  5. They use Facebook. Like, they really use it.
  6. They do one style. THEIR STYLE
  7. They may carry a gun.
  8. They expect the world wants to get in their pants. That includes you, dear reader.

This list goes on and on, but I should leave it there. I fear that I may summon a Tattoo Bro by speaking of their person so specifically. To summon one, you would be suddenly be surprised… like…

LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU, HE’S WEARING 27 GOLD CHAINS AND IS SINGING AVENGED SEVENFOLD!”

“OH SHIT, HE’S COMING. HE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT HIS DOG AND HOW VULNERABLE HE IS AFTER HIS BREAKUP!”

 

tatbro1-buzzfeed2
The Ultimate Tattoo Bro https://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/does-adam-levines-tattoo-spell-bro-with-his-nipple-as-the-o/

 

The prrroooooofffff – AKA We have one spotted.

OK, before I go off the rails and start writing a movie plot, let’s get back to reality.

You can’t summon Tattoos Bros, and to be honest, the majority of them aren’t all that bad. It’s just that they seem to be so common, and, like shit, the bad floats to the top and sticks out, hence this article.

These specific people (Tattoo Bros) use the industry as a way puff up their ego. The infamous rock star. Inside of the industry we can usually spot them quickly, whether at a convention, in public or by chance meeting when they stroll into the shop looking for a guest spot. They stick out pretty readily and I don’t know if it is because they dress/walk like they do, or if you can just feel something that is out of alignment in the universe when they walk past. Regardless of their wraith like tendencies, some people have come to think of these folk as the standard norm inside of tattooing. Helpless clients seek the bros out and expect little regarding the experience. You just sit down, shut up, don’t make eye contact and get an overpriced tattoo that is (hopefully) excellent in quality.

That was, like, the introduction. Shit. Maybe I can go back and edit this before it goes live… onto the body of this sucker.

Now that we have identified the Tattoo Bro, let us posit the simple comparison again:

“If your hair dresser/stylist were to treat you the way a tattoo artist does, would you let them style/cut your hair?”

This may seem like a trivial thought experiment but i assure you there is a bit of meat here to chomp on.

 

Tattoo Bros – It’s a service not a style

We tattooers work in the service industry. Our product is a form of art that you, our friendly and discerning clientele, will sport for your lifetime (if all goes well). Our product may speak for itself but, we as tattooers, have come to a point where service is focused upon lastly and the idea of being an artist is paramount. What do I mean by that? Well, to start, how many friends do you know that have gotten a tattoo? Lots right! Out of those friends, how many of them openly talk about how wonderful the entire experience was, not just the end result? This is where we as tattoo artists, tattooers, ink slingers, tat gods and rock stars need to focus our attention.

 

man holding tattoo machine and tattooing person arm
Photo by Djordje Petrovic on Pexels.com

Our clients don’t have to put up with shitty experiences when getting worked on ( I am speaking to the bros). In fact, they have the right to enjoy the entirety of the process. They should be educated about what we are doing and why we are doing it. They should know, not intuit, what is going to happen to their bodies. If we take the time and do our jobs, which are in the service industry, the clientele should walk away better, well informed and content with their choice of artist rather than being upset with the one they are saddled with.

So how do we do that? Let’s break down a single tattoo and redesign the encounter focusing on the client instead of our own egos.

 

The Process

 

A walk-in for the tattoo bros

The conversation starts with either a walk-in consultation or the bread-and-butter walk-in tattoo. Most commonly, in what I have seen, a short conversation comes about by a befuddled tattoo artist and a tuned up client. (tuned up can be translated as excited, scared, worried, sad etc… maybe I should have used emotional?) This conversation is kept as brief as possible. The ego of the tattoo artist involved slowly takes over and their inner monologue descends into grief, disturbing imagery and thoughts of escape, yet they are tempered by the idea of making some actual money. Here, they smile and take the information given to the back to start drafting a tattoo leaving the client to wait in their own emotionally charged mind.

Okay. Stop.

 

How it should be done

Here is where a conditioned artist can take a break, they can let go of the inner beast who wishes that a goddamned tat-crazed behemoth of a client would walk in, toss this client aside and ask for a rad tattoo. Something along the lines of Jesus shooting laser eyes while riding a mutant horseradish. They can realign their priorities and focus on their job, not their wants.

To start, address any anxiety or emotional state the client may have. Talk to them like:

You are here for their tattoo,

not,

They are here for your tattoo.

This will create an active and engaged situation. You will be listening to what they are trying to achieve. Ask good questions and get to the root of what they truly want. By doing this you are ensuring that the client will be in a better position to walk away far more content compared to what is now a normal encounter. Take notes, throw out alternative ideas if needed and fully describe what you are capable of and comfortable doing. This is not a time to throw in any bias as to what you think or want to do. The body of the client is their property and they can choose to do whatever they want with it.

 

photo of man riding motorcycle
Photo by Ryan Lim on Pexels.com

 

Next up, consent

This brings me to another thought:

“How can someone give informed consent without knowledge of what they are consenting to?”

To the best of our abilities, we have an obligation as service professionals to adequately inform and educate any clientele or potential clientele. This should be a common practice but I feel that it is overlooked by most people. I won’t jump to any conclusions but I do feel like the egocentric part of being an artist forces us to automatically assume all clients have a vast wealth of knowledge about tattooing. Regardless if they do or do not we can assume they can intuit the answers to simple questions. This is wrong.

Any question that should be asked, should be asked. Don’t bro out, please! We, as an industry need to get into the habit of going through all aspects of the tattoo procedure and work tirelessly to ensure client satisfaction. Some topics that we should cover include:

 

  1. design
  2. application
  3. body mechanics
  4. skin types and tones
  5. musculature and the effects of proper placement

This list is actually pretty long. As I write articles about any of the above topics, I will add to this list and attach links to the posts.

 

The reality of tattoo bros.

I understand, not every tattoo artist works in an elite, top shelf city shop with gilded wall coverings and an international presence. The vast majority work inside a simple street shop and have ambitions of becoming great. Some people really do not have the time to get into the meat and potatoes of a client’s request. Whether is be an overbearing shop owner, stress from life or just a general unwillingness to connect with a client, time is money… Right!? What you can do is create a short checklist that ensures you are doing your due diligence when first connecting with a client.

We know most tattoo bro’s already have these questions at their disposal:

 

  1. Is this your first tattoo?
  2. Why are you getting this tattoo?
  3. Do you have any references of tattoos or tattoo styles you like that you can show me?
  4. Are you open on placement?
  5. Do you like my style (or, I only do this MY WAY)

We should also be asking questions like:

 

  1. Are you scared?
  2. Is there any questions you may have regarding your tattoo?
  3. Do you need any more information regarding my process?
  4. Would you like a more in depth explanation as to why I would choose this style or placement personally?

Reading that second list you can see a difference in feeling with the questions. When you ask more personalized questions, you increase your ability to connect with your clientele. When you do this your client should open up more and become engaged with any discussion topics you may want to cover. They may also be more open to changes, additions and/or style changes you feel more comfortable with.

So we are all happy so far, right?

 

Drawing up the tattoo

Onto the drafting phase. You are out of the clients eye shot /ear shot. Its time to bro’down! Let’s talk some shit about their stupid idea and slam how they dress or how jacked their haircut is!

No. Please. Stop.

Carrying all of that pent up energy will affect your ability to do good work. Walking into a design, you will want to just crush through it, giving little effort or thought about how your lack of care will affect the outcome of this tattoo. So let’s slow down and take a breath. Think back to where you came from.

 

Tattoo Bros – The beginning

Almost all of the artists (tattoo bros included) who attempt to join the elite ranks of the world-famous start out here, on the floor of a walk-in establishment, honing their techniques until they can open their own shop or move to greener pastures.

They (not just tattoo bros) have had a joke apprenticeship (or are self taught) and have had to figure out almost all of their techniques solo, usually by experimentation. This is evident with the young-en’s and tattoo bro’s inside the industry. We have many colloquially abusive names for them, which if you are clever you can probably figure out. To be honest, without any effort you can figure it out. (shithead, duckfucker etc…) While I won’t be going into the idea of apprenticeships and what artists have come to know as the norm in this article, I will jump into it later and put a link here when it is completed.

These new artists and trained artists alike approach their job with the same enamored glee as a stalker lurking in the bushes. Get that money and get that client the fuck out! Turn and burn! Rip that shit!

 

Tattoo Bros – A Comparison

If we were to apply that same talk to any other industry, how would you feel? How would you feel if you were the one being treated like this?

 

Examples!

Plumber: “Well sir/mam, I hate to be contrite but this is my only style of water heater. I know you are without water but its all that I use. It’ll cost you $8000 and please, don’t check its reviews on Amazon or Google.”

Stylist: “Ya, I know its not exactly what you wanted it to look like, but it’s my style and you should have known what you were getting into. Don’t you know who I am!”

Driver: “Well, this is the only route I take. Pay me and get the fuck out of my car.”

I have literally listened to these same arguments given by tattoo artist to their clients. Literally.

 

Custom custom

How would you feel if your home builder just traced a home plan off of Google and started mocking up your custom built home that you saved so much money, for so long, to build? Would you enjoy the “custom” craftsmanship? I think not.

Take your time and focus on what is at hand. Something permanent that is not for you. Have you taken the time to ask questions and get a good feel for the client? Do you know how long they saved to get this tattoo? Are they sacrificing something to pay you for your expertise? Get past your ego and give these paying and possibly adoring fans something that they will enjoy for a lifetime rather than crushing a design off of Google.

 

Tattoo Bros – Get that critique!

So you put in the work. Now it’s time to take that magical walk back up front and get a critique. Take that masterfully crafted design and show it to the client. If they hate your ideas or your style. Give them what they want! Listen to your client! They want a shitty unicorn? Do it. They want you to do 5000 infinity symbols rolling up their torso spelling out “Dank AF”, do it! It is their body, not yours. Unless you have thousands of people hitting you up for your signature style, do what they want. You are not that important or special. Your best practice is to do what they want better than they expect it can be done.

 

In closing

If there are any changes that need to be made, open up that discussion power you established earlier. Discuss any changes and give them feedback on what you think is the best course of action and why you may wish to do it another way. Don’t give inauthentic truths to mollify or manipulate your clients into doing what you want. Give them information and allow the client to take control of their own body.

Now it’s time to discuss pricing.

Shit.

 

Tattoo Bros – Price dat shit.

 

Alion tattoos at different costs. The cheap one is horrible.

Cheezburger Bad Tattoo Supplied this image^^^

Don’t do what your thinking bro. You aren’t that special. Yes, you put in time and effort. Yes you listened to their thoughts and wishes. You were a good person. Don’t up charge your empathy. set an estimate of time based on the best artist’s speed you know of, at the quality you are able to pull off. Unless you discussed an artwork charge prior to the completion of a design, don’t tax your client. Do you charge $100 an hour? Good, charge that and multiply it by how many hours you took to do the tattoo. Simple. That is what we call an estimate. Alright bro, if all parties are in agreement, let’s get onto tattooing.

To be continued!

 

Thumbs Up!

 

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rian Othus got his initial break into the tattooing industry in the early 2000’s. He worked in many locations throughout the United States and Canada. The opinions expressed on this site are based on his experiences and time spent in the industry. Some are also from amateur scientific study.

The journey to increase his knowledge began on the road. At times Rian had to travel far from home. Others, he had to beg to get any information. It was an amazing journey and it paved the way for Rian to start analyzing the tattoo industry to figure out where he fit into it.

These articles are written to engage and educate those who are out in the wild world of tattooing, working in a shop or just enjoying the culture. He admits that some of the articles may be very specific regarding who they are written for, but hopes that anyone who reads them is able to take things from a different angle or better understand what someone else may be experiencing.

Rian Othus
Website: https://tattooartistsblog.com
https://www.instagram.com/rian_othus


 

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