Posts Tagged With: tattoo shop

7 things to know before your first tattoo

Every time I see one of those links to some article about “how not to piss off your tattoo artist” or “10 things you need to know to not be an asshole at the tattoo shop” it gets on my fucking nerves. Yes, ive had annoying customers and yes some folks act like the tattoo shop is a place to show how tough, wacky, or horny you are, but for the most part people behave themselves properly and when they do commit some “faux pas” it is usually out of ignorance, not malice. There are a lot of tattooers out there who act like cry babies when some customer acts in a way the tattoo “artiste” doesnt expect, and while some things are common sense behaviors for any place, not just a tattoo shop (dont show up drunk, do show up showered, etc), tattoo shops often have some special customs and rules that someone may not know if they are new to the world of tattooing.

It is in the spirit of assuming that “people will do the right thing if they know what it is” that I present this list of things that will make your visit to the tattoo shop more pleasant and will no doubt fill the heart of your crabby artist with joy if you come in already armed with this knowledge.

1) Wear a tank top and bring a flannel (or other warm long sleeved shirt) with you. Yes even if its July and 400 degrees outside. You never know how your body will react to tattooing on a given day and you never know if you will be sitting right in front of a heater or air conditioner to get your tattoo. Many times I have gone to get tattooed in the dead of winter only to walk into a shop that felt like an oven! If all i have on is a wool shirt then im going to be sweating my ass off in addition to dealing with the pain of a tattoo. If you start to get hot you can strip down to the tank top and if you start shivering you can use the flannel like a blanket, if you are particularily prone to getting hot/cold bring shorts or extra thick socks with you. Peoples reactions to tattoos vary greatly and Ive been sweating my face off while tattooing a client who is shivering with cold, be prepared for a costume change no matter the weather!

2) Bring food and water. I know, you are too nervous to eat, you dont want to get up to pee every two minutes, and you worry that they wont allow food near the tattoo station. Trust me on this one. Bring a snack (something neat and not smelly; bring something like a granola bar, jerky, or shelled nuts. Leave the Limberger and sardines at home. . .) and a bottle of water. Getting tattooed is stressful, and even if the stress is very minor (which it usually is) that discomfort can cause your body to eat up its stores of energy and the sweating can dehydrate you as well, particularly on long sessions. Having a snack and some water can recharge the batteries before you bonk. (bonking is what runners/bicyclists call the state where your body begins using fuel more rapidly than you can recharge it with food/drink. Bonking can lead to feeling light headed or even “passing out”) If your tattoo shop has strict rules about food/drink then take a bathroom break and eat away from the work area. The more energy you have the greater your tolerance and ability to hold still during the tattoo process.

3) You might want to bring a friend, maybe. Many of my repeat customers began by bringing a freind(s) and after a few sessions stopped. If you have a chatty tattooer a friend can actually be annoying as you try to pay attention to both (or all) the people talking to you. Besides, we all tend to want to make sure our friends are having fun, when getting tattooed this extra stress can make the tattoo (and their presence) do more harm than good. Also, be sure the person you bring is the kind of person who makes you feel more relaxed, dont bring your wild ass wacko friend who makes kooky noises and likes to bust your balls because their shenanigans will quicky go from amusing and distracting to annoying and distressing. In general the environment you want to create with your companion(s) is closer to a comfortable coffeeshop hangout than a party.

4) If possible, bring cash. This is like tipping your tattooer before you even begin. Credit cards, even where accepted are an additional hassle for the unique business model that most tattoo shops are. In most shops the artists pay the owner a percentage instead of the other way around so if the cards are run through a shop machine (some artists have their own individual services like Square or Paypal) then the artist has to wait until he gets paid out by the shop, Ive been places where this can take up to a month! Add to this the fact that all credit card processors take a cut of the money means that your artist is paying out on every transaction. If a card is all you have and the shop takes them, then by all means use it, but if you can get cash and you dont mind stopping at the ATM then your artist will certainly appreciate it.

5) Some tattooers like to talk, some don’t. Many tattooers feel that they cant properly focus if they are talking or being talked to while they work, this doesn’t equal that they are mean or unfriendly. Some like to chat and use the dialog to check up on how you are holding up or to tease out details which might add to the tattoo, this doesnt mean that they want to hear about your dramatic break up or gory car accident. Touching and being touched automatically makes us feel connected to the person but sometimes this can lead to over sharing or feeling awkward when the tattooer isnt reciprocationg the conversation. Start by keeping it light and follow the artists lead, if they dont talk then dont take it personally. Think of it as their way of giving your tattoo all the attention they need to do a good job. I have have had some deep conversations with customers, but even if you get talkative tattooer its good form to not start right off talking about who you hate, how bad you have it, or how so-and-so sucks at tattooing.

6) There are some ways that you can accidently insult your tattooer if you are not aware of them. One of the most common i have encountered is the insinuation that tattoos are not “art” or that your tattooer is not an “artist”. When you talk about other forms of art by referring to them as “real art” you are implying (however unintentionally) that tattooing isnt real art to you, and when you mention that your friend who paint is a “real artist” or that you cant “find anyone to draw my tattoo” you are tacitly saying that you think of your tattooer as someone who “just” tattoos. These days most tattooers can draw what you want, and paint, and sculpt, they have simply chosen tattooing to be their “real art”.

Another no-no is being openly jealous of your tattooer in the sense of saying “you guys must make a lot of money” or “I wish i had a job where I could dress how i want/listen to metal/ touch pretty girls / come in at noon/ draw for a living/ kick out people i dont like/ etc”. Beside sounding like an accusation this also implies that your tattooer has not earned what he has. The customer sounds to us like he or she is saying “My life is not as good as I project yours to be, and I dont think you deserve/earned it”. I can assure you that if your artist is busy and talented then they have put in weeks, months, and years of struggle to get where they are now, nothing has even been handed to an artist who is good at what they do no matter how effortless they make it seem now. It is rude in general to discuss someones wages, and particularly if they are about to offer your a service and then expect payment.

In short; dont make it weird.

7) Tipping. Almost every tattooer will gladly accept a tip, but most of us dont expect it. There is no standard, and I am leery of giving a “rule of thumb” since each person has their own rule in this regard. Personally I don’t expect a tip and don’t think anything less of a customer who doesn’t, I appreciate that tattoos are not cheap and I am grateful for anything over the amount I quoted initially. Tipping is nice, but dont break the bank or stress over it too much.

That’s all for now, as you can see Tattooing has its own customs and to quote the old saying ” When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, meaning each shop will have a preferred way of doing things, but in general some of the tips above should help you and your artist feel more comfortable walking into a shop for the first time.

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Quick Update

So we got the lease at the new location and I got my friend and carpenter extraordinaire, Jason H to take a look around at the work we need to do to get the place in perfect shape. We could simply half-ass things and get it open pretty quickly, but I love the location and look of this shop, I see a lot of potential for a dream shop and I plan to stay there for a while. So, Im going to try to do this right, to solve the problems that working in tattoo shops for 12 years has taught me always arise before they crop up. I want to have a place that is beautiful and after seeing what those guys at Unique Ink did with a shop, I’m definitely inspired to step it up and not be satisfied with ‘good enough’.Maybe I’ll get mink covers for the beanbag chairs. . . .

In the same vein, as my tattooing has matured so has my idea of what a ‘real’ shop looks like. Keeping that in mind there will be no flash racks full of stuff I don’t want to tattoo, no piles of angry signs, no beat ass furniture, and no collections of scary skull ashtrays. On the other hand a tattoo shop is not a doctors office so there will be art, fun wall color, inspirational designs and a look that pays homage to the old school traditional tattoo shops without trying to be a re-enactment of them. Besides, I’ve never hidden the fact that I am aspiring to be artsy fartsy, I have pretty much got the fartsy bit down, now Im hoping the new location will help the artsy bits too.

I plan on being very busy for the next little while, besides building and moving the shop we are attending the Seattle tattoo convention at the beginning of August. I thought about trying to squeeze some more stuff in this next 2 months, like maybe climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or building a bicycle out of matchsticks but I don’t want to over extend myself. Maybe in September.

So this blog will most likely be rarely updated for the next 30 or so days, but I will post update pictures and such from time to time. Wish us luck!

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Lets hope this works out! heh heh

We decided to celebrate Friday the 13th at our shop with some fun work. Im not sure if anyone will show up (or if too many people will show up heh heh,) either way we put the word out on myspace and a few other outlets. Lets hope its a success and we get to show off the new shop at its best!


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If you havent already. . .

. . . Check out the Black Cat tattoos page. For reals we got everything squared away and looking pretty.

The shop is shaping up, ive already thrown about 40 tons of crap into the black hole i call the shop basement and we are slowly, but surely, beginning to remodel and spruce the place up. Ive already gotten one big wish and that is to have natural light, after a decade under flourescents I cant tell you what a mental difference that makes! Plus my mutant bamboo plant is exploding with new shoots, I think its the vegetable equivelent of a boner.

Coming soon, Pictures of the shop in all its ghetto fabulousness!


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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes. . .

I should really be sleeping.

Its so late that its become early.

I should really be sleeping. i have to get up early and do a three way call with the retarded ass phone company so we can keep the same phone number for Black Cat as we had for Eye Candy. Its one of the last things to do to get the shop fully transformed into my baby.

The other thing Im doing tomorrow is handing Brian more money than ive ever had at one time in my life, Im stoked! Its funny, the amount of money we are talking about really isnt shit, but its still a lot to a guy like me. I mean you couldn’t even buy a halfway decent used car, but Ive lived so much of my life being broke that somethings just seem like a fantasy to me these days when money is involved. People actually buy cars and houses? Fuck, some people even buy jet planes and picassos!? It blows my mind, i think i would be terrified to wake up and have that kind of loot at my disposal. Literally terrified.

So tommorrow im buying the shop, it wasnt exactly the way i planned on owning a shop or the timing I would have chosen but so much of life is like that that. The ‘perfect’ moment never comes, so we deal with this moment instead, whatever it brings. And it wont be perfect and it and you will never have all your plans in perfect order, but somehow you get through.

When i found out about this whole deal i was nowhere near ready to make the kind of commitment that I have and yet I somehow knew that if i bore down and kept my head in reality that i would pull it off. Even if i get hit by a bus tomorrow or the place closes in a week (heaven forbid!) I could go out happy with the knowledge that I saved all the money i needed, that I organised the website, the bills transfers, the information, and all without having made one enemy, without having burned one bridge, and without having let down any of my morals.

I remain more convinced than ever that having the right intention and motivation and concentration will work miracles in our lives. The biggest one might just be that you see these ordinary, everyday blessings as miracles! I dont need the hand of god to descend from the clouds and pat me on my head to feel like im being taken care of, all i have to do is look around my world, to realise that ImĀ  a really lucky guy. I feel so sorry for people who let the stupidest things ruin their world. I also feel a little angry at them, unfortunately.

Stuck in traffic? got a douche for a boy/girlfriend? your boss a jerk? These things seem so terrible to people! well, i try to always remember that I was one of the lucky minority who were born into the wealthy western world, that I dont have family members killed by tribal conflict, diseases that are easily curable or that i dont have to walk 5 miles for clean water or live on subsistence farming. If you are reading this then the chances are you are blessed with a life that the majority of the worlds inhabitants cant even imagine. The worst day of my life probably looks like heaven for a million people living lives I couldn’t hack for a day let alone 50 or 60 years.

I dont feel guilty in some politically correct form of self-hating penance. Im just awake to the facts of my life and the world; and it helps me to keep everything in perspective. I want Black Cat tattoos to succeed and I will try my hardest to make it happen, but if it doesn’t ill always have my awareness of how little that failure really means in the rest of the world.

Ive been blessed with some extra fun customers lately and I feel like Ive started to get better again after a month or so of plateauing. Tomorrow Im going to be mad at myself for not sleeping, but its still going to be a kick ass day!

My soon to be co-worker, Cara, has been really stepping up her game. She tattooed some blue whales on a co-workers girlfriend and I have to admit that when i saw the healed product I was surprised and impressed!I hate to sound like a know it all, but something about her made me believe she was gonna rock from the first.

We were talking today about our relationship, not in a serious way but just how our way of dealing with each other is so gentle. There are plenty of disagreements and some little arguing but it seems to last like 10 minutes and then its over. For the first time in my life Im with someone who when we do disagree take the time to try to understand my point of view, honestly, and it makes a world of difference! In return I try to do the same and always remember that this is a real live human being with her own hopes, dreams, feelings, and hormones just like me and it really keeps me from letting my ego get in the way of an honest relationship. I feel like Cara is a not ‘just’ my girlfriend and the love of my life, but a partner, and equal in every sense of the word, someone who challenges me to be the best version of Jason i can be, its inspiring and liberating in a way that words cant convey.

Did i mention im a really lucky guy?

Categories: Buddhism and life, Tattoo stuff | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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