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Zillah

Uncomfortable/disempowering tattoo experiences

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I've been fortunate enough to have pretty good experiences with all tattooers/piercers I've been to. The only time I felt uncomfortable was during my first tattoo. It was only about 20 minutes, but the guy I went to didn't say anything to me during the entire procedure and I just felt like he was rushing through it all. I made an appointment with him, but he treated the whole thing like a walk-in...quick and rushed stencil, just powered through the tattoo. It wouldn't have been so bad if I had more tattoo experience, but I was nervous enough getting my first one, and then the stuff he was doing made me feel like I was annoying him or doing something wrong. It was a weird experience.

This reads like a 1 star Yelp review for every tattoo shop.

Edit to add more substance:

Just a pet peeve to read bad reviews of great shops when the number one issue is the customer had these high expectations of the experience that were not met.

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It wouldn't have been so bad if I had more tattoo experience, but I was nervous enough getting my first one, and then the stuff he was doing made me feel like I was annoying him or doing something wrong. It was a weird experience.

It would be nice to ask if someone has never had a tattoo before, and to spend a tad more time talking about the process and putting them at ease. No one wants to feel like a piece of meat, and for something as personal as a tattoo for the first time, it can be a put-off. That seems to me to be a really easy bit of customer service that could put a dent in the Yelp ratings and get a repeat customer.

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Firstly, fuck Yelp.

Secondly, the tattoo industry has changed immensely. We discuss this often here on this site. We discuss it at the shop. The number one priority for the tattooer is to put on a quality tattoo for his/her client. We all have various expectations. Some people want a more comfortable environment, some people want that old school feel, and varying teeters between the two. I think that responsibility does lie to the client (no, goodness no, I am not referring to any circumstance of harassment). The majority of tattooers want to have a good interaction with their clients, that said, there are different types of tattoo shops, and not all of them are going to indulge or cater to clients in the same manner.

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No I hadn't, but he is in the same city so I will look him up, thanks :)

Thanks people. I was worried that I might just be being uptight, but it did make me feel really bad.

That's awful!! I think you'd feel like you were being assaulted, I know I would.

I'm a tattooer and have always gone out of my way to make people feel comfortable- I know that when the shoe's on the other foot that the personality of the tattooer is as important as his skills.

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Yeah, I definitely wouldn't get multiple tattoos from an artist that I couldn't connect with. I probably wouldn't even get one, considering that it's pretty normal (for me) to walk into a shop and try to talk to an artist about what I'm interested in getting. I can usually tell if the artist is personable. If they aren't, I'm getting the hell out of there and not going back. Sorry if this sounds like an "unfair expectation", but the artist's skill and quality of their work is not the only thing that counts with me. Getting a tattoo should be a memorable experience. Being uncomfortable with your artist can ruin that. I'd rather have an "ok" tattoo with a good memory attached to it than a great tattoo from someone I can't have a conversation with. If you can't have a conversation, then you either care too much about money and very little about anything else, or you're too busy to listen. Either one is no good to me.

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The 'ignore' function isn't that good though. It still shows threads started and on taptalk you see the first few lines of their post. You're just as well trying to skim past without reading.

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Thanks :) I'm getting a koi, done by Nick Agnew of Kingsland Ink on April 8th, seems too far away, can't wait! It's my graduation present to myself. My ceremony is the next day, and my mum is like, "won't people be hugging you a lot? That will be sore!"

Interesting thread and in many ways frustrating. This quote from your mom made me smile for some reason. Enjoy your new tattoo, I'm jealous.

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Firstly, fuck Yelp.

Oh, wholeheartedly agree. I only said that because you mentioned Yelp. People get paid to game Yelp. Sad, it could be so useful.

Secondly, the tattoo industry has changed immensely. We discuss this often here on this site. We discuss it at the shop. The number one priority for the tattooer is to put on a quality tattoo for his/her client. We all have various expectations. Some people want a more comfortable environment, some people want that old school feel, and varying teeters between the two. I think that responsibility does lie to the client (no, goodness no, I am not referring to any circumstance of harassment). The majority of tattooers want to have a good interaction with their clients, that said, there are different types of tattoo shops, and not all of them are going to indulge or cater to clients in the same manner.

Not arguing you there, either. I think part of it is due to getting the nerve to take that first step into the first shop, as a newbie - you don't what kind of flavor shop you are entering or even know what to ask. I use myself as an example a lot - I had no idea there were different types of shops/styles/etc., it took me quite a while to get the nerve to walk in a place I found online that didn't seem sketchy. But I asked a ton of newbie nervous questions, so you're right - it is partly my responsibility to throw out that I'm freaking clueless and my obvious nervousness is what caused someone to take the time with me. Now, I'll note that this is all for a freaking small memorial tattoo I got several years ago that took 20 minutes! So yeah, I probably got laughed at behind my back.

But that helped me immensely understand (and not take personally) the "I don't talk when I work and I'm not yelling at you when I tell you to do something" warning my current artist told me before we started.

Anyway, I blather on, and since you've all hashed this out already, no worries, just ignore my $0.02. I'd say my skin has gotten thicker, but it's actually quite abused and throbbing this morning :D

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I never said the shop or artist was bad (could have been better, but I picked what I picked). But the guy barely spoke to me before, during, or after my tattoo. I'm pretty sure the only things he said to me when I sat down in the chair were "Keep your leg like this" and "Check it out" when he was done. And it's not that he doesn't talk while he works...he talked to everyone else in the shop but me. He was laughing and joking with every other artist and client in there, but just seemed to ignore me. I'm sure they all were judging me for being an 18 year old girl getting a foot tattoo, but that doesn't mean he should get to be a dick without even talking to me first.

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Tattoo artists can be odd. I've been inked by some real quirky ones in the past. If you feel at all comfortable there, maybe he'll loosen up on the next tattoo a bit. I've had the same artists since 1995 and we talk about anything and everything. But it took a while to get the back and forth dialogue going.

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I've never personally had an uncomfortable experience with anyone who has tattooed me, thankfully. I don't know if that's because I've only been tattooed by good folks or if it's just been professional courtesy. I definitely have overheard old coworkers make highly sexually inappropriate comments to customers and it's never been ok in my book. I really can't even imagine thinking it's ok to do anything less than having your clients leave totally stoked on their tattoo. It's really in everyone's best interests because your client will always remember the experience well and you build a loyal clientele through doing right by the people who support you. I do believe that that factor is one of the most important in building a successful career as a tattooer.

I can't say that I'm shocked or even surprised that this nonsense happens, but to abuse your upper hand in a power dynamic is straight up predatory.

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An artists personality is kind of important to me, if i'm gonna let someone permanently alter the way I look I gotta be able to trust them. So yeah a comment like that would definitely bother me.

I've only been tattooed once so far, and it was brilliant experience in every way, the artist was lovely, one of the most pleasant people i've met in a long time, really put me at ease when I was very nervous, he even bought me lunch. I'll be getting more tattoos from him, and his personality (as well as his art) helped me make that decision. So surely it can only be benificial to an artist to try and make their customers comfortable.

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Negative yelp reviews aside, I do agree that a little bit of charm goes a long way, especially with someone clearly getting their first tattoo.

I've been really lucky to have all my ones done in a great shop by great artists, the first time I was getting work done I told the artist (Lee Knight) that I was nervous, and he said I was doing it right. That small comment really put my mind at ease and made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.

The same with Oliver Macintosh, some of my friends had been tattooed by him and found him quite quiet and scary, but to me he was really warm, quiet yes, but just concentrating on putting down good work. We talked about colours, and he was firm, but very tactful in explaining why certain things would or wouldn't work. I learnt a lot from all of those sessions.

tl;dr - a little bit of reassurance goes a long way :)

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too bad any tattooist's bedside manner can't be accessible as their portfolio.

bottom line is that any new encounter with them is just like meeting any other stranger on the street - except that by the time we get in front of them we all have the best expectations.

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You feel uncomfortable then tell the guy to stop.....get up....and walk out!

I'm not saying that silence is consent BUT if you say nothing then nothing changes!

I have been a tattooed female for 30 years now and I have heard all kinds of shit come out of tattooers mouths both male and female! The business has changed drastically I guess BUT when I was first getting tattooed.....it was always assumed if you weren't tough enough to take the banter then MAYBE you shouldn't get tattooed because the world was gonna give you a whole lot more shit about being a tattooed woman than the banter you were gonna get in the shop.....including this statement!

I was terrified to walk into the shop when i got my first tattoo in fact the two ladies that went with me didn't go in and I went in on my own! I had heard all kinds of things about tattoo shops and although they were cool to me I am sure they weren't to everyone! Anyway.....what i am saying is they didn't offer wine and cheese like the "salons" do now! Most were street shops and this kind of comment probably would have been said as you were walking through the door instead of them waiting for you to get into the chair!

I am sorry that you had a bad experience BUT this is honestly mild compared to some of the things I have seen and probably even said to men and women in tattoo shops!

I am a year and a half into my apprenticeship....and I like women! Would I make a comment like this? Probably not.....but I can't honestly say! I do know I have said much worse......it's a tattoo shop after all!

If people don't like my opinion oh well.....but don't try to change it because you won't! ;)

And of course there weren't tattoo shops on every corner of the city either so if you wanted to be tattooed then you had to deal with whatever was thrown your way!

I HATE what these stupid ass TV shows have done to this business.....I enjoyed the way it was much more....too bad the new generation had it ruined for them!

I have to respectfully disagree with most of this Bunny, I've been getting tattooed for a long time and at many shops as well, and can also speak from my experience on the other side of the counter. There has always been trash and there has always been professional courtesy. The idea that because it's a tattoo shop that it's an excuse to be a piece of trash isn't something I can condone or respectfully agree with. For longer than you and I have been doing this there have been tattooers that don't act like that. Even the HA I worked for didn't act like that and called out other tattooers and bikers that worked for him if they said shit like that, and he's a tough take no shit MF that most would assume might be that type of trash.

If someone said that to my wife or gf they would definitely get punched in the face, and that would've happened 30 years ago as well as yesterday.

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If someone said that to my wife or gf they would definitely get punched in the face, and that would've happened 30 years ago as well as yesterday.

Which is why something should have been said!

I totally get what you are saying BUT we do know this type of thing did and still does go on and in some places....not all....especially anymore....this kind of banter is the norm!

I don't know....maybe because I was schooled early and grew up with trash I pretty much am oblivious to it all and learned to get up and walk out of anywhere if I didn't like the way I've been treated! This is mild compared to some of the things I guess I have been through in life....so i apologize if I take it nonchalant or insensitively but I would have personally stood up and punched him myself or at least gotten up for a break....grabbed my shit...and gotten the fuck out of there! If I am that intimidated by someone I find a way to get out of the situation and leave my money in the register!

Again....sorry if I seem insensitive but I guess I am different than most!

I have only felt uncomfortable one time in a shop and spoke up immediately and it stopped right there....no fucked up tattoo....and no apology to me!

I respect you @irezumi and will revisit my views for that reason....or maybe not speak on this in the future....but some my experiences in a lot of shops would leave most soccer moms feeling very uncomfortable to say the least! ("soccer mom" is not directed in anyone in general)

Would I say this to a client and would it be tolerate in the shop i am in....I think you know I wouldn't nor would it be the type of thing my mentor would allow.....but it still happens as it did in the past....and i am not shocked by it!

And if you feel i need to revisit this ideology Irezumi....I will take your opinion into consideration.....thank you for saying something!

- - - Updated - - -

Man, I'm so glad that @steve1461686340 reminded us of the "ignore users" function.

I understand the need for this function (like if someone is harassing you or something) BUT it just seems using it as a way to weed out any ones opinion who doesn't match your own is just close minded! You may absolutely....totally...disagree with someones view on something BUT you may miss out on some tiny important piece of information that might help you with something in the future by using the feature in a close minded way!

I have never thought about using this function here.....just seems silly....differing opinions is what makes this place interesting!

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First thing I wanna say is that I think you're awesome and one if my favorite people here. Also that the level if respect I have for you is extremely high; this is a tough fucking job and you have to be a damn strong person to do it. That is multiplied exponentially by being a woman tattooer; in such a male/macho dominated field you have to have a backbone of steel, so you go girl. High five. Even the best of friends have differences of opinion from time to time.

If someone said that experienced happened while getting tattooed by Sailor Jerry I would not be surprised; if someone said that happened while getting tattooed by Hardy I would be really surprised. Best of friends but just different people and approaches to business.

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People politely disagreeing and expressing mutual respect for one another... Is this really the internet?

I tend to respect most people ideologies or opinions....even if I do not agree with them....if presented in a respectful way!

I think what Irezumi said to me was done respectfully therefore I don;t mind taking his views into consideration....coupled with the fact that I know him well enough to know he has earned my respect in this craft and has paid his dues!

I would expect him to......and want him to....call me out if he saw me posting something he didn't agree with....or I would learn nothing and continue down the same path!

That doesn't apply to everyone here though! ;)

I think if most people were a tad bit more respectful online....and on this site as well......there would be more participation!

- - - Updated - - -

First thing I wanna say is that I think you're awesome and one if my favorite people here. Also that the level if respect I have for you is extremely high; this is a tough fucking job and you have to be a damn strong person to do it. That is multiplied exponentially by being a woman tattooer; in such a male/macho dominated field you have to have a backbone of steel, so you go girl. High five. Even the best of friends have differences of opinion from time to time.

If someone said that experienced happened while getting tattooed by Sailor Jerry I would not be surprised; if someone said that happened while getting tattooed by Hardy I would be really surprised. Best of friends but just different people and approaches to business.

Thank you @irezumi.....I am honored!

I think you know....at least I hope you know...I have the highest level of respect for you as well which is one reason I have no problem backing up and taking a look at my views!

I also think your example is spot on!

I am who I am......it has gotten me far in life......BUT I won't learn if i don't listen and digest what others have to say to me! ;)

Again.....Thank you!

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Off color jokes and discussions are one thing, harassment is another. Personally, I've finished a girl's half sleeve that was started by another guy in town, because he kept making very obvious references to trading his services for intimacy, while trying to pass it off as a joke. And I've heard a lot of people say they quit going various places for similar reasons.

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I'm also guessing there are some pretty rad chicks out there with skulls and daggers and panthers on their arms who just happen to have kids that play soccer -- jus' sayin'.

Duh....I am one of them....and long before it was fashionable to be tattooed!

My kid was in the Olympic Development Program and if you had been tattooed back then and around that crowd....you would know the BS stares and comments I had to put up with!

LMFAO......I knew someone wasn't going to be able to help themselves and was going to have a comment!

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