David Flores

When customers think they are friends, but don't treat you that way

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Over the years plenty of people come in to the tattoo shop and friendships are bound to develop. I feel like a lot of friends I have started out as customers in the tattoo shop, or me patronizing their business, which is great. We all seem to be able to still do business with one another, with no real issues, because everyone respects the friendship and each others business enough for the two to co exist.

On the other hand a person doesn't have to be my best friend to be a good customer. There are plenty of people that come in get tattooed, we have a nice conversation and we never see each other outside of the shop. They show up on time, sometimes even take your design advice. Some people don't say two words and just want to get tattooed, that's cool too.

I guess what I am getting at, is there is a group in between that seems to give me the most trouble. People who maybe have a couple tattoos, they really like their tattoos and or the vibe of the shop, and they think because they spent a little money they have achieved VIP status. They will call about coming in on a certain day and not show up, then call the next day and ask if there is any walk in time and not show up again. I won't make appointments over the phone, it's always first come first served, but still it's annoying when people flake.

In certain cases I have allowed a person (a friend) to drink a couple beers (2 maybe 3 at most) while getting tattooed, I don't advertise it but if someone asks I am usually okay with it as long as they are of age and take their empties with them. Unfortunately a few people have interpreted this as show up drunk and drink a whole six pack during your tattoo and not be able to sit still and have to pee every five minutes. I am not their mom or their bartender and it's hard to tell a person who is drunk that they are cut off especially mid tattoo. Recently a guy who was tattooed by my boss who pulled the get drunk thing, and a 3 hour tattoo took just under 5 hours to complete. There were a couple spots in the black that needed to be touched up and honestly he didn't get to blend all the colors' in the tiger as he would like to and the guy came in for a touch up, after calling three different times saying he was going to show up, finally showed up three hours later and was really not very pleasant, he expressed he wasn't happy with his tattoo. So my boss took him to the side and explained that he would be happy to sit down and finish the tattoo free of charge, but explained to him that he just became really hard to tattoo while he is drinking and he would need him to not do so in the future while getting tattooed. The guy seemed to understand but then was kind of pissed off because he had to come back in an hour to get it fixed because my boss was in the middle of a walk in tattoo on a friend who didn't keep him waiting for 3 hours. A half hour later he shouted some stuff from the door way about customer service and stormed off in his car with his girlfriend. My boss stopped him in the parking lot and had another talk with him, but he just wanted to talk about how much money he spent and that he deserved to be treated better.

I don't know, I think the guy got treated fairly. I am interested in people's thoughts on this. I really everyone to feel at home at the shop, but it seems to me like some ass holes just ruin it for the others.

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Some people are just douche bags. Regardless of any friendship, your tattoo artist should be treated with respect and your appointment should be treated as a business transaction. Try showing up at your dentist, doctor, lawyer, mechanic's with no notice and ask them to drop everything to help you. A lot of professionals charge people who don't show up for appointments, and they should. When you bail on an appointment you are taking money out of the artists pocket and leaving him unemployed unless a walk-in happens to show up. That's not how you treat friends.

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Yeah shop friends are great, self dubbed VIPs I can do without. If an artist or shop wants to bend a little because they know the person well enough that they won't take advantage of a situation -- whether a drink or two, a phone-in when you only book in person -- whatever, that's a bonus but when the clients think they call the shots, not cool. We run our shop in a way that makes it function best, that works for the artists and the greatest number of clients. No amount of familiarity should make a customer think it has to beworked to suit them alone...but damn if people don't still walk through the world thinking it's a set built just for them.

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...Try showing up at your dentist, doctor, lawyer, mechanic's with no notice and ask them to drop everything to help you...

That's the thing. Those occupations are all respected, professional...we're just a bunch of degenerates having fun for money. Hasn't TV taught you anything?

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Yeah shop friends are great, self dubbed VIPs I can do without. If an artist or shop wants to bend a little because they know the person well enough that they won't take advantage of a situation -- whether a drink or two, a phone-in when you only book in person -- whatever, that's a bonus but when the clients think they call the shots, not cool. We run our shop in a way that makes it function best, that works for the artists and the greatest number of clients. No amount of familiarity should make a customer think it has to beworked to suit them alone...but damn if people don't still walk through the world thinking it's a set built just for them.

Exactly. In a perfect world built for the shop, weekends would be only walk ins who had to pick it off the wall, and custom tattoos and appointments would all start at 1230 every week day instead of at 6 when they leave their office.

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My first tattoo at a shop, I was 21. I walked near closing time, for a large stomach tattoo. I didn't know any better at the time. So I was quickly informed of my stupidity and quoted a high

price. Which I said I would pay. The point I am trying to make, is no body was trying to be my friend, or give me great customer service and they should not have to. All anyone should expect walking in to a tattoo shop is a good clean tattoo. After that tattoo I went back for more, and more. Years later I started tattooing, and I still get tattooed at that shop. I actually may be leaving the shop I am at now because I have a job interview there on Monday. I just feel like a shop should look appealing(good work, clean) but be some what intimidating at the same time. That way people don't ask you if they can do dumb shit while they are getting tattooed. I hate those situations, I always feel awkward being the voice of reason. And I always feel like they can read on my face, me cursing them in my head.

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Over the years plenty of people come in to the tattoo shop and friendships are bound to develop. I feel like a lot of friends I have started out as customers in the tattoo shop, or me patronizing their business, which is great. We all seem to be able to still do business with one another, with no real issues, because everyone respects the friendship and each others business enough for the two to co exist.

On the other hand a person doesn't have to be my best friend to be a good customer. There are plenty of people that come in get tattooed, we have a nice conversation and we never see each other outside of the shop. They show up on time, sometimes even take your design advice. Some people don't say two words and just want to get tattooed, that's cool too.

I guess what I am getting at, is there is a group in between that seems to give me the most trouble. People who maybe have a couple tattoos, they really like their tattoos and or the vibe of the shop, and they think because they spent a little money they have achieved VIP status. They will call about coming in on a certain day and not show up, then call the next day and ask if there is any walk in time and not show up again. I won't make appointments over the phone, it's always first come first served, but still it's annoying when people flake.

In certain cases I have allowed a person (a friend) to drink a couple beers (2 maybe 3 at most) while getting tattooed, I don't advertise it but if someone asks I am usually okay with it as long as they are of age and take their empties with them. Unfortunately a few people have interpreted this as show up drunk and drink a whole six pack during your tattoo and not be able to sit still and have to pee every five minutes. I am not their mom or their bartender and it's hard to tell a person who is drunk that they are cut off especially mid tattoo. Recently a guy who was tattooed by my boss who pulled the get drunk thing, and a 3 hour tattoo took just under 5 hours to complete. There were a couple spots in the black that needed to be touched up and honestly he didn't get to blend all the colors' in the tiger as he would like to and the guy came in for a touch up, after calling three different times saying he was going to show up, finally showed up three hours later and was really not very pleasant, he expressed he wasn't happy with his tattoo. So my boss took him to the side and explained that he would be happy to sit down and finish the tattoo free of charge, but explained to him that he just became really hard to tattoo while he is drinking and he would need him to not do so in the future while getting tattooed. The guy seemed to understand but then was kind of pissed off because he had to come back in an hour to get it fixed because my boss was in the middle of a walk in tattoo on a friend who didn't keep him waiting for 3 hours. A half hour later he shouted some stuff from the door way about customer service and stormed off in his car with his girlfriend. My boss stopped him in the parking lot and had another talk with him, but he just wanted to talk about how much money he spent and that he deserved to be treated better.

I don't know, I think the guy got treated fairly. I am interested in people's thoughts on this. I really everyone to feel at home at the shop, but it seems to me like some ass holes just ruin it for the others.

that sucks. i work with the general public, so i know how shitty people can be. as you mentioned, there are also some really great people that you'll come across. i always try to be as courteous and studious in regards to appointments and getting tattooed. this may sound lame, but the people i've chosen to get tattooed by i hold in high regard, and treat them with respect accordingly. they're putting something on my body that will last forever, so why wouldn't i want to be nice to them? i'm also a huge nerd, so i'm always super excited to be able to bullshit with someone about tattoos/getting tattooed, because i don't really got to talk about tattoos outside of a few forums i frequent.

from what you wrote, i think the owner handled that very well. kudos to him.

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That's the thing. Those occupations are all respected, professional...we're just a bunch of degenerates having fun for money. Hasn't TV taught you anything?

Anything that TV didn't teach me I can learn from the internet. Isn't Kat Von D the best in the world????

Now, let me tell you what my tattoo means to me ... my mother died before I was born and my father abandoned me before I was conceived, but this tribal koi riding a skull and fighting a dragon tattoo will make everything all right!

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Exactly. In a perfect world built for the shop, weekends would be only walk ins who had to pick it off the wall, and custom tattoos and appointments would all start at 1230 every week day instead of at 6 when they leave their office.

Except I have to go to the office to earn the money to get a big custom tattoo and they expect me to be there on weekdays at 12:30- it's a Catch-22.

IDK, I don't have anything that's taken longer than 4 hours, so I've had pretty good luck scheduling stuff in on weekends. I think when I get my back, ribs, and my thighs done, it's going to take longer because it's going to be multiple sessions. But I'm cool with that- a tattoo is not a 'need', it's a want, so I can wait and work with the artist's schedule, too.

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I think you all know my story, I"ve been going to CTC for all my work for almost 40 years. Yeah, there have been loooooong breaks in betwixt tattoos whilst I raised kids and all that good shit.

Anyhow. When I set an appointment to go in there, and I always do, cause it's almost a two hour drive for me, I am there early. I mean like early enough to go out and get coffee and rolls and like that. If I go in and there is a walk-in who has to get done right now or the world is gonna end, fine, they got a couch, I can wait, or hell, I can go back and watch whoever is working work, no problem.

Do I consider the artists there my friends? Well, that's a tough one. To me, a friend is someone you can call at 03.00 and say "they're in the wire, get over here with a piece", and he'll be there. And vice-versa. Would I expect any of the artists there to do that for me? No. I don't live in the city anymore, so it would be pretty difficult to develop more than a friendly relationship, as opposed to a friendship. IF any of them called me and asked for a favor, hell, if it was something I could do, sure, no question, I would. I guess it's hard for me to put into words. I would say guys like Nick Colella, Miles Maniaci, Dale Grande, the ones who have worked on me, I think we have a good, solid, friendly relationship, and I wouldn't presume on it to try to get favorable treatmant or special consideration.

That's not to say that if Nick wanted to do, say 4 or 5 hours worth of work on me just for grins and giggles I wouldn't take it, but I don't expect it.

When I work with someone, I guess I feel you get to know them on a little deeper level than if you were just having your teeth cleaned. When I go in to get tattooed, I might pop a vicodin to chill things out if it's in a touchy area, but drinking? Hell, even when I still drank, if you were in the bag, CTC wouldn't touch you. I'd never dream of eating, or drinking alcohol, or smoking, whatever. I believe the last time Nick worked on me, he took 5 after finishing all the black, maybe a few hours in, and I chugged a sodapop. Other than that, I think it's incumbent on the tattooee to lay back and freeze.

.02

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i was just thinking and the only time i was ever late for an appointment was back in february. i have driven up to burlington ontario to get tattooed by franz stefanik. i had gotten there early and i told franz i was really hungry, so he recommended this restaurant next door. turned out they make everything from scratch, so it took nearly an hour to eat. because of this, we started the tattoo late, but he was super cool about it.

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Except I have to go to the office to earn the money to get a big custom tattoo and they expect me to be there on weekdays at 12:30- it's a Catch-22.

IDK, I don't have anything that's taken longer than 4 hours, so I've had pretty good luck scheduling stuff in on weekends. I think when I get my back, ribs, and my thighs done, it's going to take longer because it's going to be multiple sessions. But I'm cool with that- a tattoo is not a 'need', it's a want, so I can wait and work with the artist's schedule, too.

There really is no way around the fact that more people want to get tattooed on Saturday and yeah if you want professional people who have the money to pay what a tattoos worth to come to you, you find ways to be flexible or keep time open on weekend. Also this type of client, like you said, is usually willing to wait a few weekends if necessary to get in on their days off.

It's funny the gambit of the tattoo customer. Some people won't wait five minutes, others will book 6 months in advance and fly around the world and most people are some where in between, which is where I am.

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There really is no way around the fact that more people want to get tattooed on Saturday and yeah if you want professional people who have the money to pay what a tattoos worth to come to you, you find ways to be flexible or keep time open on weekend. Also this type of client, like you said, is usually willing to wait a few weekends if necessary to get in on their days off.

It's funny the gambit of the tattoo customer. Some people won't wait five minutes, others will book 6 months in advance and fly around the world and most people are some where in between, which is where I am.

I actually prefer to not get tattooed on a weekend, even though I work a 9-5 simply due to the fact that everyone else is there on the weekends! Taking off of work usually isn't that much of a problem, or getting something done after 6 has never been a problem for me (hell I usually never ever ask, they just book it). I personally have no issues waiting to kingdom-come to get tattooed, and never had a problem with the idea of flying. If a tattoo is worth getting there is no need to rush, or raise hell to get it right away.

I can say in my experience being friends with the tattooer is never expect. They are there doing their job and I am there to receive a service. In my work I also work with clients and as such I understand that bounds can be crossed when they get too "buddy-buddy". Invoices get paid late, etc etc. It sucks to have to be the bad guy in those situations but sometimes people need to be reminded that you are working. I also understand the idea that people hold that since they are paying you they think they own you. Explaining that I have a life and other clients outside of them is a foreign idea, and ends up turning into a adult temper tantrum (embarrassing to say the least).

I have only had one kinda crappy experience with a tattooer but that is fine. Other than that artists are usually very friendly and when you start going to a place often, I feel you get known a bit better and soon are on friendly terms with the people there. Like @Dan S said I would consider them friends (aka call them at 3am for SHTF or invite them to my wedding) but we get along and can hold a conversation, maybe share a laugh or two. I've only drank once in a shop and that was actually offered to me. I personally sit better with a beer or two in me (not drunk), but just enough to calm the nerves.

The preferential treatment people are everywhere. There will always be people that feel owed something. Ignore these people. (Sadly I feel the level of entitlement is only rising in the world. This is especially prevalent amongst my generation and younger.)

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Aside from the fact that people should just be nice anyway, it only makes sense to best accomodate the artist in question - giving them the room and atmosphere to be creative and productive. Why would anyone want to piss off their tattooist and jeopardise the best possible working environment? That'd be worse than cussing out your waitress . . .

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@slayer9019 I also like to have a beer or two in me when getting tattooed, not enough to be drunk but just to relax a little. My boss said he when he was going to shops in the late 70's and early 80's there was a fridge in the lobby where you could keep your beer cold while waiting to get tattooed. He hasn't had a drop of alcohol himself in over 25 years, but he always wanted to open a shop that felt like it was 1979, and while I don't think the fridge in the lobby would fly, allowing people to have a beer is as close as we get these days. Although if you think about it most tattoo conventions are sponsored by breweries (at least out west they are) so I just assumed it was common practice.

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@slayer9019 I also like to have a beer or two in me when getting tattooed, not enough to be drunk but just to relax a little. My boss said he when he was going to shops in the late 70's and early 80's there was a fridge in the lobby where you could keep your beer cold while waiting to get tattooed. He hasn't had a drop of alcohol himself in over 25 years, but he always wanted to open a shop that felt like it was 1979, and while I don't think the fridge in the lobby would fly, allowing people to have a beer is as close as we get these days. Although if you think about it most tattoo conventions are sponsored by breweries (at least out west they are) so I just assumed it was common practice.

While I wasn't around "back in the day" but from what I heard shops were a bit more intimidating and had a slightly different crowd than today. I think if you had a fridge in the lobby it would be more of a reason to just "hang out" at the shop or just to get flat out wasted. I think it's better to go by the case-by-case basis.

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I would like to be able to call my tattooer a friend. I always try to be respectful when it comes to tardiness, if I'm late apologize but for the most part I'm there 5 minutes early. Never canceled, always bring cash. I've only shown up one time after having a beer but far from drunk. Sometimes we go out after finishing and get something to eat or drink. always have to fight over who pays but in the end I'm always treated. So I would like to say he's my friend, but that's not going to stop me from giving him the respect he deserves as a tattooer and a human being. It's going to be weird when I finish my body suit and an not there every Sunday and I'm going to call him to see if he wants to go out.

My schedule is pretty busy but Sunday isn't that's busy of a day to get tattooed here in Japan. So I'm almost always having 6pm on Sundays, if he calls me and says someone is late or he needs to move me to a later time it's fine. I'm always to afraid to ask him if it's alright if I just come in and watch him work. But tebori is a bit different, more one on one. Maybe one of these days I'll grow some balls and ask if I can watch.

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While I wasn't around "back in the day" but from what I heard shops were a bit more intimidating and had a slightly different crowd than today. I think if you had a fridge in the lobby it would be more of a reason to just "hang out" at the shop or just to get flat out wasted. I think it's better to go by the case-by-case basis.

You know, "back in the day", at least in the late sixties/early seventies when I started hanging around/getting tattooed in pro shops, there was DEFINITELY a different vibe. But I will say, at least at CTC, if you showed up buzzed, you got shown the door. I never saw anyone drinking in there, even once.

Course, I do believe some guys out there may occassionally smoke one a them there left-handed cigarettes, but what do I know?!

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I dont work at a shop, but I tend to go in the same shop from to time even if I am not getting a tattoo. But always treat them as a friend and I hope the artists there all think of me as a friend too. I feel like you should always be nice, just out of respect. I feel like if you are nice and respectful to a shop,its artists and its owner then you will be treated nice too. Ive ran into a few dick tattoo artists who do not tattoo me and always turn my head. Im still a little youngin. Only 21. And honestly feel lucky and grateful to even be able to get tattoos and have tattoos. I try to bring in cool old flash books that I bought to share or just anything. I actually just brought the shop some "moonshine". haha. I always feel horrible for the tattoo artist whos getting treated horrible by a customer. I mean even though I do want to find a mentor...ive always looked up to tattoo artists in a "godly" sense. haha All my respect goes to you lucky tattoo artists.

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I think a lot of the hipster generation throw that word friend around to loosely.It seems like when I'm in NYC,and approach a person and ask who did their work,it's like 80% of people will say ''my friend'',so and so.It's like it's not cool unless they say my friend did it.I think it's just a hipsterism...to say your friends with somebody,when your probably only an acquaintance.

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I feel that I get VIP treatment at the shop I go to. I've been there since 2005, my son gets inked there and I recommend a lot of people to the shop. I get a good rate, I have a good rapport with all the artists there.

First and foremost, I am a good client. I show up early and offer to go out and get drinks and whatever they may want for snacks. Most of them will take a soda or iced tea. I show up clean, sit in the chair and take the artist's advice more often than not. I never ask the price before we start, I always have enough in my pocket and throw a nice tip on whatever they say when we're done. I may pop a vicodin or two before I get there, but never drink before or bring a beer into the shop.

If I do pop in to say hi, if they have someone in the chair, I'll only say hi or just fill in my next appointment date in their book. I'm honored that they let me behind the wall to do that. I do grab a few cards to hand out to people on my way out. I can tell when they have a d-bag in the chair.. the vibe in the shop is just off. Aparently, they do get a lot of people who are no shows or come in hours late.

My wife asked me to take my son to the shop I use for his 1st tattoo. I clearly laid out for him what he should do and not to and all the etiquette I felt was necessary. Now they treat him quite well.

CG

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