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Lizzie

Complaining about Tattooing

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This makes my blood boil up into my scalp. Everyone gets a few days in the year to feel like shit and be sad. Work is hard, and tattooing is REALLY hard some days. Clients can make you feel like you'll never make them happy, appointments can start to back up... and most of all, sadly, other tattooers in your city can make you just want to quit on certain days.

It happens.

But as a young'n of 29 years myself, working in tattoo shops for 9 years now, I still can see the bright bits of light through the clouds on those days and man... I'm PSYCHED to be where I am, and I feel lucky to have this job.

I don't understand the type of tattooer who has been doing this for not long enough to be jaded and crusty, yet wants so badly to have that old man attitude of "No Tits in the Biz" or "That guy needs his thumbs cut off" or "This job ain't what it used to be" or... well, being a complaining, whining, crusty curmudgeon who'd rather TALK about everytihng wrong with tattooing and the other tattooers in his city, than he would just sit down and zip the lips and work on learning to draw hands better or doodle something that you can sell later....

It's SUCH an amazing job. It affords us the craziest opportunities all in the name of doing something that most of us don't just "love," but are consumed by.

I just want to offer this pat on the back to keep in your pocket and next time you feel like you're having a complainy day about this amazing job, take it out, pat yourself, and remember you're doing this for you, so smile and pick up a pencial and be thankful you're still making it.

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I recently dealt with a co-worker with less than two years under their belt complain about how stupid their clients were etc...I got super pissed and suggested that they find a new line of work because we have the best job in the world, and people who don't appreciate the wonderful blessing we have as tattooers can go fuck themselves.

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oh well everyone has their ups and downs but I thought this was for the customers first and myself second. I'll quit and paint when its all about me. But a good topic of debate. Is tattooing for the needs of the customer or do we limit ourselves to stay within an established style we wish to recognized by other artsits for?

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For me, as a customer only, I'd have to say that it's my need that's getting fulfilled when I get tattooed. But I choose my tattoo artists carefully, and if they tell me that it will look better a certain way that's different from what I had in mind, then I trust them. My husband doesn't tattoo me (because he's a lazy bum, among other reasons), but if I tell him an idea I have for a tattoo, and he tells me that I'm "trying to stuff 3 lb. of shit in a 2 lb. bag," I take his word for it. He's also fond of saying things like "I don't know how big you think your arm is, or what you think is possible in the world of tattooing." I'm getting tattooed today, and I've done my homework and shown some reference (not on my iphone), but if he says we're doing something a little different or a lot different, I know whatever he does will be cooler than what I could cut and paste together myself. But I know most clients don't have the good fortune of a spouse who rolls their eyes at them when they explain their brilliant new tattoo ideas, and maybe they really do need all 3 lb. in that 2 lb. bag? It's a delicate balance.

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Dealing with different people everyday is hard. It's a pain in the ass sometimes, and depending on what kind of a shop you're in and where it is can dictate a lot about your clientele. Just because you're a tattooer doesn't mean that you magically get amazing, smart, considerate, thoughtful clients. They are the unknown quantity of this job. So they can be tough to deal with. Commiserating with your peers is a way to blow off steam out of sight of the clients eyes. It's hard to care this much about what you do and not get bummed out or frustrated at times, and it's unrealistic to not address the realistic frustrations we deal with.

HOWEVER, when you become the constant bummer, or the constant super tough dude who only posts about how much their clients suck, well yeah, I agree. There's so many of us, and we all have off days so it sometimes seems like there always someone complaining, but a large part of that is that individually, our off days all come at different times. There's bound to be at least a few people having "one of those days" on just about any day of the week.

I think gathering on the internet has it's pros and cons, and one of those cons is that it's hard to gauge accurately the climate of tattooing as it appears in forums like this. Don;t get me wrong, I agree, Lizzie. I do. I love my job more than any job I've ever had. Even more than the idea of any other possible employment. It's something I obsess over, have dreams and nightmares over, and something I spend more time than I probably should thinking about. I'm not one of those guys who tries to down play his enjoyment of it so that he can seem like he's "keeping it real", and Im not one of the dudes who tries to equate tattooing with a job that's so obviously boring and mundane so he can walk around talking trash about people who try very hard at it. I love tattooing. But there IS that frustrating element. Sometimes it's healthy to vent to people who can understand you're frustrations because there aren't many who do.

I'm glad you made the thread though because it's always good to get out of that way of thinking as soon as you can.

Thanks.

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Well, I'm not talking abotu customers specifically, because we definitely have our bouts of blowing off steam when those nightmares come in - and we are like any other shop. 30% of our clients rule, 20% don't say enough to have any idea what they're about anyway, and then the last 50% are trying. And yeah, you're totally right, forums like these are the way to bounce those shitty feelings off of other friends that are in the same position and it can make you feel normal and well-adjusted.

But there's the dudes that are more in the game to talk about tattooing then they are at being focused on getting GOOD. I feel like anytime I meet someone who's been tattooing 5 years and just bombards me with bitching about this and that and "tattooing ain't what it should be" and this and that... it's pointless yammering about ideas that have been regurgitated a million times and mean nothing. It's always those guys too, that you look at their portfolio and can't help but think that if they'd just listen to someone ELSE about what tattooing is, they might have learned more in those short 5 years and have a better attitude.

But just to throw a wrench in my argument, if those guys did ALL have great mentors, and ALL ended up well-adjusted, this community wouldn't be as cool as it is. We wouldn't have people that stood out as goal-setters for the rest of us, and we woudln't have examples of what kinds of tattooers we don't want to be. We'd all just be the same sticker-applicators and we sure as hell wouldn't be able to make a living from it the same way.

So all in all, sure it annoys me, but in some ways, it's a necessary evil that has its benefits.

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Some people love to bitch. I really feel like clients can feel when someone isn't happy and tend to not come back. I've worked with some gems that couldn't keep a client due to their attitude so honestly I think it's a problem that solves itself.

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