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No names need be said to prevent people catching feelings. But most likely any shops or owners mentioned here would not be enlightened enough to know what the words forum or thread are.

Having worked in nothing but street shops, I have seen/worked around plenty of gnarly shit. But none takes the cake of the first shop I worked at.

In 99 I got my first job in an armpit of a shop, working the counter for tips and shop experience. I was stoked to have my first foot in the door. This was at a place in College Park MD, right near DC. Owned by a biker whom we will call Sonny, who thankfully was never there. With no exaggeration, he was never out of jail for more than 4 days at a time. Seriously, that was the record while I was there. We had a betting pool each time he was out.

We had wall-to-wall carpet evrywhere, including the bathroom, which was also where the handwashing sink was also dirty sink/tubescrubbing sink. Basically walking through the lobby & down the hall with dirty tubes everyday. The tattoo area had years of inkspots decorating the carpet.

On the rare occasions when Sonny would be out of jail, he would sometimes come in at after we all left to tattoo friends. The aftermath of this would be coming in the next day to find a dirty setup on someone's station (using all that persons equip), and for some reason he would leave used needles in the top drawer of your station instead of a sharps. One of the best/worst examples was coming to find that he had used someone's ink & had apparently lost the cap; so plugged the bottle by sticking a used bar into it, needle & all.

On the days when he was out during the daytime, he would usually come in, take ALL the cash out the till (leaving nothing for change) and hopefully leave ASAP. If he was in jail, he would have his gf/exwife's sister come in randomly clear out every dime, even if bills were overdue & utilies about to get shut off. There were occasions where we had to hide paperwork from him to squirrel the money away to pay the bills to keep the shop open and running. Sadly enough, He was actually better off in jail, where he was in a structured enviroment. With no access to alcohol, which was always related to every arrest, he stayed out of trouble for the most part. Him being locked up actually kept the shop in a somewhat more stable enviroment.

We all flew the coop eventually and from what I heard, there was a 'mysterious fire' that most likely happened after he made his insurance was paid up.

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Was it that one place a couple blocks down from __________?! Somehow I missed that 'mysterious fire' sentence. Because the crunchy dude in there gave me my first tattoo and was a serious scumbag and the place burned down like a month later..

2nd floor? right next to campus? Bingo.

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i worked at chico's so. broadway in st louis, as soon as any black person walked through the door chico would be so ignorant to them, to the point of running them out. if they stayed i would do my best to try and make em feel as welcome as possible. as soon as id start a tattoo someone who was willing to deal with his ignorance, he would wait till the tattoo was half done and then start playing white power music on full volume.

i could go on for days about the ignorant shit this guy did, but to me treating a potential customer like shit with no reason other than race is enough said!

needless to say i dont work there anymore.

i learned alot of "what not to do" from it for sure

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Well, i've been arrested ---- for being in an illegal tattoo shop. (Underground)

Started tattooing pre gloves and single use set ups.

Worked for a man who did a lot of coke and became paranoid and wanted to booby trap the drop box.

Who considered selling his shop to 1%s ---but they'd get me as part of the deal.

Worked for a man who liked to cause dissent amongst the ranks lest he have a mutiny--- and one of the employees shot another 4 x at a shop meeting on a payday weekend - outside of a military base.

After being questioned by the police- with one tattooist in the hospital and one on the lamb- we all went back to work

One boss didn't have a mirror in the bathroom to discourage certain hygiene practices and didn't like female tattooists cause we use too much toilet paper.

And racial slurs and issues? don't even get me started ---having worked in the south for years.

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I'm really loving all of these stories. And

one of the employees shot another 4 x at a shop meeting
?

Just surprised that it doesn't happen more often.

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I got my first tattoo when i was in Rosarito, Mexico. i was 16. the day started out with my uncle and i trying to bribe the guys at 454 tattoo in san diego to just tattoo me. needless to say they weren't having it. So we decided to hop the border and try our luck. Well we ended up in a "shop" and i use parenthesis because it was a small room on the top of a senor frogs with old paul wall and chamillionaire banners for a roof. Fortunately the artist who was there had just gotten deported from Idaho and was trying to get money to hop back over to the promise land. the unfortunate part was that i had to stand for the two hours it took him to pump out some script on my hip. Yeah i know its a super gay spot but it is what it is. I was the coolest kid in my small midwest high school for about a week. then the gang bangers from chicago moved to town and they had cross tattoos on there shoulders from when they were like 10 years old. and im disease free to this day lol. thank god.

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Hi i worked in a shop only part time where u expect the owner/ tattooist knew his thing this guy clearley didnt. he couldnt draw. was not artistic in any sense of the word. his lines were wobbly at the best of times. he just wanted the money . which is cool but when u put no feedback into the customers hard earned cash is eye wateringly piss taking.

i brought in referance books drawings n flash. all he could do was eat. and count the cash at the end of the day. the tight fuck even had the cheek to try and autoclave used ink caps to save money. fkin unreal . i left shortley after a few weeks thank fuck.

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he tight fuck even had the cheek to try and autoclave used ink caps to save money.

I once worked with this woman that would take the pieces of dried crusty black ink from around the nozzle of the bottle and put it back in the bottle to 'save ink'

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I worked for about three months for a chain of tattoo shops. Worst period fiscally and artistically in my tattooing career.

The owner looks like a stoner yard gnome, lol.

We were employees so he withheld taxes but we still had to provide everything ourselves. The only thing he stocked the shop with was Pine-Sol. I was the only artist at the location I was stuck in, he has a dozen or so shops up and down the I-75 area of Georgia. Big billboards and everything. At the time I was fresh out of my apprenticeship and only left the place I started because it was closing down.

We had to provide everything. In addition to the price of the tattoo we had to charge a $20 "needle fee". We didn't get that $20 or even a cut of that $20.

He has an inhouse supply company that charges about 10 times what any normal supplier would, but will take that out of future pay checks. There was a big cabinet in each shop that stayed stocked with things like needles, inks, rubber bands, all the little doo dads you need. Even a couple of Chinese tatty gunz. Lots of guys wind up in a share cropper sort of place with him due to that.

The one I was in was carpeted in the entire building except the "office" so that's where I chose to tattoo from.

The shop was also a head shop. Pipes, scales, papers, etc...

The shop sold sex toys. All sorts of silicone, latex, battery operated wonders.

We got a 10% cut of anything we sold, but I did my best to avoid dealing with any of that crap. Seemed the only time anyone came in to buy something would be during my one tattoo of the week, so I usually ignored the tweaking sex fiends trying to buy a butt plug and a rose stem.

Pretty much all the flash on the walls was bootleg. Much of it wasn't laminated. We had no line drawings. It was all stapled to the walls. I took to snatching the sheet I needed off the wall, then piling them all on top of a cabinet. I was the only person ever in there so my give a damn ran out pretty quickly.

For a while there was another artist there, who lived in the back room of the shop. He went to jail for being a junky. When he got out the owner had seized and wouldn't return his supplies. It was shortly after this dude left that I felt the need to ask bossman for a raise. He bitched at me about not telling him about junky's drug use, etc... I told him that I'd mentioned junky coming in looking mighty shot out, it just made me not wanna play narc anymore when the same afternoon junky asked me why I told bossman he was looking mighty shot out. FWIW my give a damn regarding ratting him out left the first time I stepped on a used needle in the hall of the shop. Yeah. Loads of fun.

Bossman had a "manager" who would come by and take the money, restock the cabinets, etc... once a week. He would also sift the the trash, in the dumpster even sometimes, just to see if he could find evidence of more tattoos being done that were on the books.

I was working four days a week at that location in M. Two days a week at worked at the location in F. The location in F was physically even worse. Seriously. It did have a selection of knives in addition to the dildos and bongs though. And squirrels in the ceiling.

F was closer to my home than M. Sometimes I'd be asked to work at F instead of M because someone couldn't come in, blah blah blah, whatever. I got in the habit of taking all my equipment home because of this. One day manager called me to bitch at me for taking my equipment home. I explained blah blah blah to him. He told me it was against company policy, WTF? I quit on the spot. Called bossman, told him I was quitting. He told me he would kick my ass. I informed him he could meet me at home, he had the address. Still ain't seen that little gnome lookin' bastard on my lawn, lol.

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