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Tattoos on tattooers


areilla
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Hi everyone, new to the board. You've heard it a million times, but I'm yet another tattoo artist wannabe. My questions have, I'm sure, been asked and answered a thousand times on here, so I won't get into that.

My one question is, how many tattoos does a tattooer need to have to be taken seriously?

I have two. I don't feel compelled to cover my body with tattoos just to convince others that I'm serious about it. The two that I have hold meaning for me and I do not want or need a full sleeve, a full back piece, tattoos up and down my legs or torso, covering my chest, etc. to further express myself. At least not yet. The human body is sacred and so I don't take its permanent modification lightly. If I feel moved someday to add to them, so be it, but until then, unless you know me real well, you wouldn't even know I had them. I actually kind of like that. It has shock value. ;)

But that's just me. A friend of mine is an avid collector and that's how she expresses herself. She even has a couple that I designed for her (although the guy who did them screwed them up and they need to be reworked). Everyone has a different path and a different personality.

But the question remains: Would you get a tattoo from a someone (who was otherwise an excellent artist) who didn't have a lot of tattoos? Does it add to their credibility somehow?

Looking forward to getting to know my way around the board.

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You said you have two tattoos already, it's a small step but one in the right direction. Keep on getting tattooed and read the thread the other two suggested. The best thing you can do for yourself if you are serious about being a tattooers is to seek out some amazing artists and then put every spare dollar you can save into getting tattooed by them!

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The human body is sacred and so I don't take its permanent modification lightly.
A friend of mine is an avid collector and that's how she expresses herself. She even has a couple that I designed for her (although the guy who did them screwed them up and they need to be reworked).

I suggest reading link that other users have pointed out to you. But what concerns me are those two statements. Why do you want to be a tattoo artist if you hold the body sacred, because if you do become a tattoo artist, you'll be fucking up a lot of peoples body with tattoos. And in what way did the tattoo artist screw up the design that you drew, did he not draw it exactly like you did, or did he change? Did he say do a lousy to mediocre tattoo or did he do a good tattoo that was just not your drawing?

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I hate to be up front but from what you wrote here and in a couple of other posts, I gather you haven't really been around tattooing much. I hate to be frank but if you don't like getting tattooed you don't like tattoos. There are too many people who get into tattooing as an escape to their job they have or some sort of midlife crisis rock star thing, but don't understand what people put into this craft in order to be good and how many people are half assin it out there. I knew right off the bat I would not be a tattooer not because I don't want to be, but plain and simple there are too many people doing it and I could never do it as well as the people who have mastered it. I have managed to find a way to be part of tattooing without tattooing by working at a shop and getting tattooed by great artists, I would suggest you do the same.

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Thanks for the link. It seems the opinion of the majority is that anyone who doesn't buy what they're selling can't be trusted. I wondered if that was maybe the case. Ah well, it'll have to be what it will be. I haven't decided what I want yet, and you can only tattoo your skin once. Once it's there, it's done.

I suggest reading link that other users have pointed out to you. But what concerns me are those two statements. Why do you want to be a tattoo artist if you hold the body sacred, because if you do become a tattoo artist, you'll be fucking up a lot of peoples body with tattoos.

I think maybe it came across that I somehow don't like tattoos. That's not the case at all. I think they're cool. I'm drawn to the medium of tattoos for a number of reasons. The work by the shops in my area is, to be honest, not impressive. Both my tattoos were disappointing and NOT what I intended. This is one of the reasons I'd want to take up the craft. I design something for a friend or family member, they take it in to the shop and proudly show me the result...and it's never the way it should've been. I just want to cut out the middle man and get it right myself. When I say I hold the body sacred, I mean that it needs to be shown respect. I would have a real problem tattooing stupid looking shit on anyone. Looney Toons characters? Sports teams? Crude, vulgar, demeaning, "gangsta" crap? Playboy bunnies and boyfriends names? This will probably be my sticking point. I would likely end up turning away a lot of business because I don't know if I could bring myself to mar someone's body with a tacky bumper sticker that I KNOW they're going to regret when the wisdom of age eventually prevails.

And in what way did the tattoo artist screw up the design that you drew, did he not draw it exactly like you did, or did he change? Did he say do a lousy to mediocre tattoo or did he do a good tattoo that was just not your drawing?

The first one I designed for my friend...okay that one really sucked and it's my fault. It might be salvageable, but it'll need a real magician to make it work. The second one I made for her - a fairy/witch character to put in the middle of her upper back - looked pretty cool on paper, but the tattooer just made a mess of it. Especially the face! It needed a much finer line. And the colours were blotchy and uneven. My husband's phoenix looked not too bad because it was designed to work well with the firm outline, but the tattooer wasn't very good at drawing a straight line. The pin-up girl I did for my friend's husband turned out pretty good, the artist did a great job rendering it. I'm still working on my artwork though, so after looking at it, I realize I could've done a better job of the drawing itself. But they were completely happy with it, so I guess I should be, too. Hey if a superior artist wants to rework a sketch I've done and the result is a better tattoo, I'm all for it. I'm just getting tired of a perfectly good drawing ending up looking like crap...permanently.

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I get where you are coming from but its not like you decide to become a tattooer and the next day your are doing custom japanese back pieces. Taz and hot stuff are just as much a part of tattooing as some realistic fantasy piece in fact more so on my opinion. You see all the cool stuff that people post but you don't see all the stuff they do in between that is just work but makes a customer happy but its a clean tattoo that someone is proud of.

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I hate to be up front but from what you wrote here and in a couple of other posts, I gather you haven't really been around tattooing much. I hate to be frank but if you don't like getting tattooed you don't like tattoos.

I didn't say that. I liked the experience, but I don't like the shops in my area. I've been drooling over Daemon Rowanchilde's work (urbanprimitive.com), but when the work starts at $300/hr, I'll have to be satisfied with just drooling. I also like his philosophy, that the act of tattooing someone - and the experience of being tattooed - is as much a part of the art as the finished result. People use tattoos to find closure and healing, to remind themselves of their inner strength, to create bonds with others, to celebrate a new beginning... A clever tattoo can turn a devastating injury into an icebreaking conversation piece. I love the "Gone to the Market, be home soon, Love Pig" tattoo. And the guy who had "Out of Order" tattooed over his badly scarred (okay, missing) ear. I don't want anyone who doesn't understand this concept anywhere near me with a tattoo gun. So far, I haven't found anyone local who fit the bill.

There are too many people who get into tattooing as an escape to their job they have or some sort of midlife crisis rock star thing, but don't understand what people put into this craft in order to be good and how many people are half assin it out there.

Guilty as charged. My current job is "perfect". The pay is great, benefits are awesome, hours are flexible, and the people are amazing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with my job, except that it's not right for me. I don't want a traditional, soul-sucking 9-5 job. I want a career dammit! I want something that depends on ME to make it or break it. If I quit right now, my job opens up for some other Jane Q Public to walk into, and things just keep marching right along. But as a tattoo artist, I would never be done learning, and if there's one thing I love more than anything it's learning. There would always be some new technique to master, drawing skills that could be improved, etc. My success would be directly related to my determination to improve myself and my skills. As far as the rockstar thing, no. I'll satisfy myself with a new mustang or whatever when the time comes. Tattooing makes sense in so many ways. Completely flexible schedule, 100% self-directed, portable, and it's a practical way to earn a living as an artist. I love the idea of getting to meet lots of interesting people and being the one who makes it possible for them to express themselves like this.

I knew right off the bat I would not be a tattooer not because I don't want to be, but plain and simple there are too many people doing it and I could never do it as well as the people who have mastered it. I have managed to find a way to be part of tattooing without tattooing by working at a shop and getting tattooed by great artists, I would suggest you do the same.

I'm not sure why you would suggest I do the same. I don't think I've really put enough out there for anyone to determine whether or not I'd do well in this field. Why do you feel you would not be a competent tattooer? Okay, I know that everyone sucks early on in their career in any skilled profession, but does that mean that only the VERY best artists should be working? Not every tattooer will be the very best, but if they stay within their comfort zone artistically, they still do very well. Will I ever "master" the art? I have no idea. But I don't think it should stop me from trying. Do I feel I have a pretty good shot at being a really good tattoo artist? Yes I am confident that I do. I'm a perfectionist and hate making mistakes. In any case, it makes no difference right now. I can't really pursue this avenue until I'm financially able to quit my current job, so the industry is safe for now. In the meantime, I'm just trying to learn more about it.

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how will you ever truely learn how to tattoo without getting tattooed? also, until you've invested yourself completely you have absolutely no clue of what it takes to be a tattooer/"tattoo artist" let alone a really good one. i guess, i find it somewhat offensive...if you only want 2 tattoos why would you want to do tattoos? it doesnt seem that passionate to me. ugh...

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I just thought I would throw in my .02. I am a tattooer, and I do have a sleeve, both hands and my neck tattooed. I do also work with a tattoo artist that is a Gunny Sargent in the Marines, therefore no visible tattoos. He does great tattoos and stays pretty busy. That said, if someone comes in and wants to get tattooed on a walk in basis, they are generally apprehensive about getting tattooed by him. He is used to it and immediately hands them his portfolio, usually the result is another great tattoo. I will say that his work speaks for its self, but he does have a bit of a harder time landing clients than I do, because I look the part. As long as you are good with that, then great. Another small point is that you only have 2 tattoos and you say that you only want tattoos that have real meaning to them. At some point, when you are working in a shop, that will change to some degree. It is awesome to have a tattoo that is just because it is great art. Good luck to you.

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I get where you are coming from but its not like you decide to become a tattooer and the next day your are doing custom japanese back pieces. Taz and hot stuff are just as much a part of tattooing as some realistic fantasy piece in fact more so on my opinion. You see all the cool stuff that people post but you don't see all the stuff they do in between that is just work but makes a customer happy but its a clean tattoo that someone is proud of.

You're right about both things. Like I said, I hate making mistakes, so you won't see me doing large, intricate, custom pieces anytime soon.

And I guess I'm overthinking the simpler flash tattoos that are the bread and butter. If the client is happy with it, who the hell am I to say they're wrong? I still say I'm going to refuse to do some stuff though. If I can't show it to my mother, I ain't puttin' it on you.

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how will you ever truely learn how to tattoo without getting tattooed? also, until you've invested yourself completely you have absolutely no clue of what it takes to be a tattooer/"tattoo artist" let alone a really good one. i guess, i find it somewhat offensive...if you only want 2 tattoos why would you want to do tattoos? it doesnt seem that passionate to me. ugh...

Well...thankfully I'm all the way up in Canada and you won't have to deal with me. I'm sorry that my apparent lack of passion offends you, although I think perhaps you might want to get to know me better before you jump to conclusions about that. I want to do the art for the sake of the art itself, but I haven't found the right artist or piece for myself yet. It's a highly personal decision and I don't like the idea that I would be judged by my lack of tattoos any more than I would like the idea of being judged by the world at large for being covered in them from head to toe. It's just a choice. The fact that I would stand behind that choice - I hope - would say something about my character.

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I just thought I would throw in my .02. I am a tattooer, and I do have a sleeve, both hands and my neck tattooed. I do also work with a tattoo artist that is a Gunny Sargent in the Marines, therefore no visible tattoos. He does great tattoos and stays pretty busy. That said, if someone comes in and wants to get tattooed on a walk in basis, they are generally apprehensive about getting tattooed by him. He is used to it and immediately hands them his portfolio, usually the result is another great tattoo. I will say that his work speaks for its self, but he does have a bit of a harder time landing clients than I do, because I look the part. As long as you are good with that, then great. Another small point is that you only have 2 tattoos and you say that you only want tattoos that have real meaning to them. At some point, when you are working in a shop, that will change to some degree. It is awesome to have a tattoo that is just because it is great art. Good luck to you.

LOL, it's a little ironic, isn't it? Most tattooers get someone else to do their tattoos, right? Two hairdressers in town. Which hairdresser would you get to do your hair: the one with the Hollywood celebrity hair or the one with the mullet? If you said the one with the celebrity hair, you'll wind up looking like Joe Dirt.

Anyway, thanks Shmitty. The plan is not to get rich and famous, but to get good and to do good work and let word of mouth do its thing. I'm alright with having a little less business if it means maintaining my integrity. When the time is right, and I find the right artist, I have a couple of ideas rolling around in my head.

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Groundhog Day!

Threads like this and posters like areilla are some of the reasons I don't come here much anymore.

I'm tired of defending real tattooing and discussing why people shouldn't be tattooers when they clearly don't understand what tattooing is.

Someone fairly intelligent who thinks they have a grasp on art wants to be a tattooer, they post a dumb-ass, inflammatory post, people exercise their good will and give sensible responses, the original poster spouts a fountain of reasons why they are right and everybody else is wrong because their reasoning is rock-solid and everybody just doesn't understand, man. Then a bunch of comparisons with other trades and professions are drawn but none of them hit the point. Then someone calls out 'bullshit' or 'troll' the original poster reasons that's what internet forums are for, to discuss stuff.

It's fucking boring.

With a half-working knowledge of how to argue a point, you can 'prove' that you deserve to tattoo. That doesn't mean you do.

You can 'prove' that tattooers don't need many tattoos because 'it's art man, it's all about personal choice'. that doesn't mean you're not a parasite.

areilla, if you can save tattooing and feel you are better than everybody else but you don't want to pay for tattoos, you should type less and draw more. But I know you won't. You read a thread just like this, that had some great points raised but you wanted one of your own.

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My questions have, I'm sure, been asked and answered a thousand times on here, so I won't get into that.

So why then go on to...

My one question is, how many tattoos does a tattooer need to have to be taken seriously?

Groundhog day indeed... Best to use the search function for the original mega-thread on this topic, end of story.

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If I can't show it to my mother, I ain't puttin' it on you.

Then you will never ever be a good tattooer or even a decent one. It sounds to me like you are looking in the wrong direction as far as a career change. You said earlier you have a perfect job except the soul sucking part of it, I say keep that perfect job because tattooing is NOT a perfect job either and involves it's own share of soul sucking and dealing with idiots on a daily basis.

p.s. quit now.

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Fine, so I'm a parasite. I'm not sure exactly how to formulate a response to this that expresses how I feel about it without generating a whole lot more inflammatory responses. Again, you don't know me.

As far as I can tell, I don't think I said anything purposely aggravating. There seems to be this concept of "real tattooing" out there that is never explained. And when I say, "Okay, so YOU tell ME, what is real tattooing?", the response seems to be "If you have to ask, you'll never understand." If there was anything about this industry that would drive me away it's snobbery. I'm not like that, so maybe I wouldn't ever fit in if it means that I need to become an elitist. And no, I'm not just saying that because I'm in the 'have-not' category. That's something about me that would not change, and if it ever did, I'd have to change careers because I wouldn't like what I had become.

Apparently there is only one "real" way to do things. I'm not sure what you mean by "save tattooing". I have no illusions that I'm a rockstar who's going to bust onto the scene and just amaze everyone with my incredible skills. And I have no idea what I can say that would keep you from jumping down my throat. I guess I'll just keep quiet and let you know when I get a full back piece, eh?

My thanks to those who were friendly and answered my questions. I do appreciate it. I think I've said enough. You'll probably see me lurking here and there (if everyone doesn't mind), learning what I can. This is a fantastic site. But I think perhaps I'll take Mr. Robson's advice and just shut up and draw. (areilla takes her ball and goes home)

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I think perhaps I'll take Mr. Robson's advice and just shut up and draw. (areilla takes her ball and goes home)

Best advice. That, and go get tattooed like it's an addiction, because if it's not, and if tattooing is about making a logical career change instead of succumbing to this overwhelming force you can't really understand but you feel a need for... then it might not be the right choice.

I replied again against my better judgment and you seem like a nice enough person, but please understand that in tattooing and, likewise for the tattooed folks that tend to be serious, they're not thinking about what their mother will say (after the third, fourth, etc. that worry falls by the wayside, if it ever existed) -- they're already thinking about the next one, how pumped they are to get tattooed by whoever's doing it, whether it's a close friend or a tattooer they've waited years to be tattooed by. On both ends of it, that person is basically feeding the need.

That phrase that you don't choose tattooing, tattooing chooses you, seems to prove itself more and more, especially on here. Go figure.

Also, internet arguing will most likely pale in comparison to working at an actual shop with actual people who want actual tribal arm bands and tazmanian devils.

Good luck.

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"If you have to ask, you'll never understand."

It's kinda something like that. Nobody sits you down and explains a 90 chapter book about what tattooing is all about. Its just something clicks in your head, and once it does... you can't turn it off. It needs to be fed, and its a long winding rabbit tunnel. By all means though stick around and lurk.

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Gouge said it best!

I would have just 'liked' and not replied but the iPhone app doesn't have the 'like' feature.

And trust me, you've been treated far less rudely then most people who've come here with the same story of having little or no tattoos and wanting to be a tattooer

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Since this site is open for anyone to join I suggest a policy of no "breaking into the business" related questions as a forum rule. All that does is keeping tattooers away, thus making it alot less fun for all of the other members who are genuinely interested in talking about tattoos.

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Jut thought of something : on some other non tattoo forums I've joined to become a member you have to validate your account through your email. This requires users to read an initial emailed message and click the 'activate account link'. I don't know much about how forums work but I though maybe if we had something like that where all new members received an email or personal message here that they are required to read before having their username validated it would cut down on the type of stuff we dont want here. Or maybe every new member can be sent a link to the suggestions for newcomers thread and be told they should read it before posting.

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