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Etiquette -- after the design is drawn up


keepcalm
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Searched for this but didn't see anything -- point me in the right direction if there's already a thread covering this...

So, even when I make an appointment far in advance, my experience so far (4 one-shot sessions) has been that the artist doesn't have anything drawn up until I come in to actually get the tattoo. And I get this -- people are busy and like to do one thing at a time. However, it has me wondering about the etiquette for if you see the drawing and want to change something about it. There you are, staring at your artist, and s/he's ready to start working on you, because you booked this appointment time, but you want to ask him/her to change something about the design s/he drew up. Do artists expect this? Do they work possible re-drawing time in to the time you booked for your appointment? Or do they expect you to just agree to the design and get started right away?

It's been a very uncomfortable moment for me the times I've asked if something could be changed. I didn't know if I was offending the artist, or doing it wrong? How much is too much to ask to be changed?

Like I said, I understand they can't work up a drawing for everyone far in advance, but I always feel pressure to accept the first thing they show me when I arrive to get the tattoo done, and it gives me anxiety, ha.

What does everyone else do? What is expected?

Would love perspectives from tattooers on this, too!

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The one-shot tattoos I have by people like Chad Koeplinger, Steve Boltz and Oliver Peck were drawn up just before the appointment.

That said, those guys can whip something up in twenty minutes probably because of years of twenty years plus overall experience tattooing. Usually some references in there somewhere too.

If the artist is competent it wouldn't bother me (...for one shots anyway).

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Personally I've never asked a design to be changed but my approach to collecting tattoos is to choose an artist and let them have complete control. I'm just happy to have a cool tattoo from a talented artist.

I should also note that my ideas are usually so minimal/basic that the artists sometimes ask a bunch of questions to get a better idea of what I'm hoping for.

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I don't believe I have ever asked for anything to be changed from a drawing, but I did ask for the preposition "to" to be changed to the adverb "too" after a sketch was drawn on me in sharpie. My mentor always tells clients that when they come in for their appointment and they want to see something adjusted, let him know, because ultimately it is their tattoo. I suppose, however, that I am so confident in the people who tattoo me that I really don't care if it isn't exactly what I envisioned, because I can't draw that well and I trust their ideas.

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My understanding is that the reason (among others) many tattooers won't show you a design before your appointment is due to having been ripped off by clients who then take the design and get it done somewhere else (i.e. cheaper). Which is totally fair enough.

I have never asked a tattooer to change what they drew for me because I have usually been lucky enough to book in with people whose work I love and whose vision I want and trust. That said, I have sort of "worked out" the details of the tattoo on the spot a lot (especially for my back). Most of the time the tattooer has really wanted to make sure I am happy and comfortable with the direction we're going, so I would think that as long as: a) you're not a nitpicky jerk; b) you aren't massively contradicting what you asked for initially; and c) you are respecting the tattooer's advice (so if you ask them for too much and they tell you they have to simplify, I would trust that even if it's not what I imagined) - then any professional would be professional about it.

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If you do not like what a tattooer has drawn up, then I would say something. The tattoo is going on you for life, and you don't want to be looking at it 20 years from now saying "I wish I spoke up before this was laid down."

A lot of people in this thread already have been lucky enough to really like what the original drawings have been, myself included for my own tattoos. But I can tell you that if something does get drawn up that I do not like, I would ask for it to be changed. The only thing I can really relate to this is when Dana drew up my back piece. Such a huge thing, he never showed me a drawing until I walked in the door for the first appointment. I was apprehensive as hell, but he blew it out of the park and I loved what he drew up. But honestly I would have asked him to redraw it if he went with the 1 faced 2 armed version of Kongo Yasha. That bitch has 3 faces and 6 arms dammit!

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I am apprenticing in more of a street shop than a custom studio (nice mix of appointments and people who just walk in)....but most of the time if it is something of the small to medium size it can be drawn up on the spot provided we have the time to do so (are not swamped with customers)....if not we take a deposit and set up an appointment and the drawing or concept drawing will be done before you come in to be tattooed!

I think it is fair for a customer to ask for changes to be made as the design is something you will be living with the rest of your life BUT of course I agree with the "a, b, & c" that Puglist just posted.....if you totally changed your idea around a lot after it's been drawn I can see that frustrating a tattoo artist a little!

I too am like Harry878 though.......I go to a tattoo artist because I like the type or style of tattooing they do....give them an idea if they ask.....or give them full creative freedom....and get the tattoo they come up with! I have some really crazy stuff on me and it always makes for nice conversations since everyone now feels that all tattoos should have a meaning....LOL

Just be respectful in your requests....and all should be well!

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Keepcalm, it's entirely possible you won't be a lucky as to have an artist or situation where you feel you don't need some input. Like above people said, personally I have never changed a design simply because I approached them for their style.

99% of most clients are not like that. That's a special breed. Ok maybe 97%.

I have been stuck redrawing something a bit too many times and it does get aggravating in some cases. It happens but thankfully not often. It's kind if part if the deal; we try to make you what you want, with the exception of professional judgement calls of technical aspects such as design structure. But if it's as simple as "I'm not sure I like the way those wings look, it's too ____ for me" then it's part of the job to try to make it more appealing to you, without the ego of "this is what I wanted to do so that I can get a picture of it.". I would rather re-draw the wings and make you happy than have you go to a different shop later and say "this isn't what I wanted".

The other day I drew up a bird and roses and banner for someone brought in some shitty JPEG that they liked. I took down what they wanted, made an appointment, and then spend some time making a drawing for that tattoo. When he came in for a follow-up before the actual tattoo he looked at it and I could tell something bothered him. Apparently the bird I used (thanks Jerry) wasn't to his liking, he wanted it closer to the lame one on the JPEG. To me it looked rad because it was a classic looking bird. To him he just wanted a different style, and there's nothing wrong with that, it's just a matter of personal taste. I was a little bummed, but I gave him the kind of bird he wanted. And he left super happy. Which means he'll be coming back and bring his friends and maybe one of them want the 'cooler' bird.

Don't be scared to speak up. You live with this tattoo until you're dead. I will see that tattoo maybe once in my life at the most. You should be comfortable with what you wear, I often hear that they didn't want what the artist wanted to do. Well if you don't speak up then it's not our fault!

Be assertive and make sure that if you don't like it then don't get it.

Edit; Siri made all kind of blunders here, Apologies for odd sentence structure or the use of wrong words.

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I'm not sure what the etiquette is either, but like others said I think if you are kind, courteous and pay for the time they are spending on redrawing AND tattooing--then it's no worries.

Most of my tattoos have been a result of guest spots. One of them, I had to ask the artist to redraw a few times. The reason being I had been communicating to her through the shop prior to the appointment, so it was a natural case of banana phone. The tattoo wound up being much larger in my head than hers and the level of detail got skewed through the 3rd party communication. Thankfully, the shop booked a longer slot than they thought I needed. She did the initial sketch prior to the appointment and two redraws before I sat in the chair. I felt really shitty for asking for tweaks and add-ons, but she was really cool (the shop too) and basically said she wanted me to get the tattooed I wanted.

A good artist that is in it for the right reasons will wait. I would be cautious of artists that give anyone a hard time, because then it's clear they are just in it for the money.

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If you have a slot booked with an artist who has a long waiting list and then you require some redrawing that means it doesn't get completed in your booked slot, what happens then? Is it likely that they'd book you in for another session in the near future or would you have to go back on the waiting list? What about if you've travelled a long way? Or do artists usually factor in redraw time when they book slots?

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I've rarely had to ask for changes, and the changes I made were very minor. The artist had no problem with the changes either. I learned to trust their advice and I have never been disappointed. @Pugilist provides a very good checklist in a recent post. Also, kindness, courtesy, and respect will go a long way, as both @HaydenRose and @irezumi noted. These are permanent designs, so it makes sense that we should be comfortable with what we get done. At the same time, people should take the time to find out how the process works and what the customs are in whatever shop you choose.

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Only two of my five tattoos (the larger ones) were drawn up in advance, and I didn't ask for any changes because they were awesome already. My first tattoo I actually did ask for a very minor change and it wasn't an issue. I was a bit surprised when he drew it up that day, because most of my friends seemed to be emailing designs back and forth with their artists in advance. Now I know that trying to control your tattoo down to the smallest detail isn't going to end up looking as good as just letting the artist handle the art.

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If you have a slot booked with an artist who has a long waiting list and then you require some redrawing that means it doesn't get completed in your booked slot, what happens then? Is it likely that they'd book you in for another session in the near future or would you have to go back on the waiting list? What about if you've travelled a long way? Or do artists usually factor in redraw time when they book slots?

I think most of these are case-by-case scenarios, and no clear answer for you, sorry. A lot of variables are involved, and any number of situations could take it in any direction.

Yes it's possible you might get re-booked for a later session depending on to what extent changes need to be made, amount of scheduled time, whether or not or other clients are after your appointment, whether or not the shop and tattooer has flexible hours if re-drawing takes a significant amount of time etc etc.

I'd say most of the time changes are minor and take relatively little time especially if the tattooer has drawn it a few times already before even seeing the client.

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I think I am the same as a lot of people here - If I book with an artist then I already know that I love their work, and I am happy to let them have the freedom to do a design as they think it should be done - not like how I may have had it stuck in my head. Nitpicking details would make me feel like I was acting like I know better than them, when I really, really don't.

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Wow, thank you everyone for the detailed replies!

Of course, I've never said anything like "This is all shitty!" after seeing a design, haha. I usually love the designs I've been shown as a whole. The changes I've requested in the past have been small, and they only required the artist to redraw a small part of the design, not the whole thing. I always try to be kind and courteous, of course -- after all, this is part of my point: This is someone's art, and even though it's going on my body, I don't want to insult anyone! At the same time, I want to really love my tattoo.

The times I've asked, the tattooer has said something like "for sure, no problem" -- and made the change I asked for. I've never asked for more than one change per tattoo I've gotten. And I didn't ask for any changes at all for two of my pieces.

I dunno. This is the hardest part of the process for me, probably. I have taken a page out of "the book" here from you guys and learned to pick artists whose work I just totally love -- my next tattoo is being done by one of those people (Dennis del Prete at Providence Tattoo in RI), and I don't anticipate wanting anything on his design changed.

Anyway, good advice here -- thanks again, all.

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Something that bums me out sometimes about the culture of tattoo "collectors" is a preoccupation with being a "cool" client, i.e. someone who seems "down" and who the tattooer hits it off with. I wonder if this is maybe where these kinds of anxieties come from. Fuck that. You sound polite and respectful, which is probably how most of us aim to be in most customer service situations. That is how I try to behave in most of my day-to-day dealings too. Beyond that, I try not to worry about whether or not I am "cool", or anyone's fave. That shit gets a bit too high school for me. Also I am not cool.

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Something that bums me out sometimes about the culture of tattoo "collectors" is a preoccupation with being a "cool" client, i.e. someone who seems "down" and who the tattooer hits it off with. I wonder if this is maybe where these kinds of anxieties come from. Fuck that. You sound polite and respectful, which is probably how most of us aim to be in most customer service situations. That is how I try to behave in most of my day-to-day dealings too. Beyond that, I try not to worry about whether or not I am "cool", or anyone's fave. That shit gets a bit too high school for me. Also I am not cool.

Thank you for saying this! Haha! I always feel like a SUPER uncool client when I walk into a tattoo shop! Partly because I am barely covered, and partly because I just don't feel like I'm totally "in" the tattoo world. Jokes go over my head in the shop, people talk about artists or things I don't know about, etc. My image probably doesn't help -- I look like a pretty all-American (and likely naive) young white girl, so I know people are out there making assumptions about me, haha!

Anyway, I try not to let it bother me and just go in, be friendly, learn what I can, and get nice work that I love!

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Its been awhile, but thought I would stop by here. I think ultimately you have to pick and choose how to deal with the situation. Our shop we try to show everyone a design that is about 75% drawn before we set the appointment. Sometimes that is not possible because of people traveling, and walk ins we try to just draw on the spot, as long as it feasible. No artwork leaves the shop and we don't allow people to take pictures so they don't price shop with it. I think subconsciously if you make people wait to get tattooed and don't show them the drawing they might be less likely to have you make changes, but on the other hand, but having to reschedule their appointment to redraw something and not making any money is not an ideal scenario either or even worst bumping your evening appt who had no problem cause you had to redraw your afternoon appt.

On the other hand letting people go home and think about your drawing, sometimes backfires as well, you end up with someone who stops in every day the week before an appt with a new idea or something they saw on the internet and you have to try to bring them down to earth and keep them focused. Ultimately the goal is for everyone to be happy with their tattoo and the shop to stay busy and profitable. Redrawing tattoos is going to happen no matter what, so it's just a matter of how a shop or tattooer chooses to deal with it. As a customer I would encourage people to be reasonable and listen to the tattooer, but always speak up before the tattoo is applied, because afterward is too late.

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What does everyone else do? What is expected?

I've had to ask for minor changes here and there, and have no qualms about doing it...remember, it's going to be on your body forever so make sure it's exactly what you want.

Now if you're talking about completely changing the design from what was originally agreed upon, then that's a different story.

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Keepcalm, it's entirely possible you won't be a lucky as to have an artist or situation where you feel you don't need some input. Like above people said, personally I have never changed a design simply because I approached them for their style.

99% of most clients are not like that. That's a special breed. Ok maybe 97%.

I have been stuck redrawing something a bit too many times and it does get aggravating in some cases. It happens but thankfully not often. It's kind if part if the deal; we try to make you what you want, with the exception of professional judgement calls of technical aspects such as design structure. But if it's as simple as "I'm not sure I like the way those wings look, it's too ____ for me" then it's part of the job to try to make it more appealing to you, without the ego of "this is what I wanted to do so that I can get a picture of it.". I would rather re-draw the wings and make you happy than have you go to a different shop later and say "this isn't what I wanted".

The other day I drew up a bird and roses and banner for someone brought in some shitty JPEG that they liked. I took down what they wanted, made an appointment, and then spend some time making a drawing for that tattoo. When he came in for a follow-up before the actual tattoo he looked at it and I could tell something bothered him. Apparently the bird I used (thanks Jerry) wasn't to his liking, he wanted it closer to the lame one on the JPEG. To me it looked rad because it was a classic looking bird. To him he just wanted a different style, and there's nothing wrong with that, it's just a matter of personal taste. I was a little bummed, but I gave him the kind of bird he wanted. And he left super happy. Which means he'll be coming back and bring his friends and maybe one of them want the 'cooler' bird.

Don't be scared to speak up. You live with this tattoo until you're dead. I will see that tattoo maybe once in my life at the most. You should be comfortable with what you wear, I often hear that they didn't want what the artist wanted to do. Well if you don't speak up then it's not our fault!

Be assertive and make sure that if you don't like it then don't get it.

Edit; Siri made all kind of blunders here, Apologies for odd sentence structure or the use of wrong words.

im impressed siri let you speak this entire thing out without cutting you off, she cuts me off A LOT! haha

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You should never be afraid to ask the artist that is tattooing you to make changes in regards to anything. Maybe you don't like a small detail and want it changed, think the tattoo may be a little too big and needs to be downsized or maybe the stencil was placed on you and you think it may needs to be moved over a little bit because you didn't think it looked good in that spot. The tattoo is going to be on you for the rest of your life and you should be happy with every aspect of it and they completely understand this. I remember when I got my first tattoo I was anxious/nervous and didn't really talk that much which made for an incredibly boring session. Now I tend to shoot the shit, talk about what we both love which is tattoos and have some good conversation which could make your session fly by. It's all part of the experience. Seriously though these people are human beings just like us, they are not going to kill you or will they?

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