Flora&Sons

Hi! Conflicted after first tattoo

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Hello out there,

I found this site while searching the internet in a panic in the middle of the night after getting my first tattoo last month. It went a long way towards helping me calm down and get accustomed to the idea of my new art - so thanks for that! I've kind of jumped in at the middle, so let me start at the beginning. I'm a 32 year old mum in Alberta. I have been fascinated by tattoos since I was a teenager, but it took me a long time to work up the nerve, commit to an idea, and take the plunge. I did my research, found a local artist who does beautiful line work, and settled on a little posy of the flowers that represent the birthmonths of myself, hubby and our kids. I got it below my collarbone with the idea that it could be covered up or not depending on the occasion. Turns out the little daisy pops its head out of a lot of my necklines, but I think it's kind of cute, like how flowers seek the sun (ok - I am a big nerd, but that sounds sappy even to me - sorry! LOL) I think it's cute NOW, but I was really surprised by my initial emotional reaction to getting tattooed - I had about 24 hours of crippling regret and anxiety, which led to the frantic middle of the night Googling.

Anyway, skip ahead a couple of weeks, and I am kind of obsessed with conflicting plans for another tattoo. Can I just say that Pinterest is downright dangerous? So. Much. Content. I'm gravitating to flowers, leaves, etc. and like the idea of building a 1/8... 1/4... 1/2? sleeve (perhaps around to the shoulder blade) a few blooms at a time. I'm also toying with a memorial tattoo (tulips in a vase). My inclination is to create a flow of images that work together on one area... but I'm analytical, not particularly artistic. The artist that I went to did nice work, but her portfolio is mostly stand alone images, not really wrap around pieces or sleeves. There are a few little issues with the details (missing stems, etc) that she is going to fix for me, but I was a little bummed that she didn't catch them. I feel like I might need a more experienced artist that I can give my raw material to and trust to come up with a concept that works as a tattoo. I've been following a couple other artists online, and - yay - books will be opening shortly. This leads me to a couple of questions:

1. When an artist says their "books are closed", is the proper etiquette to wait until they announce they have opened them before sending an email for a consult? Or am I just putting myself further down the list? I don't want to be "that guy" who emails when they are already swamped. Just wondering what the norm is.     

2. Is it crappy to switch artists? I guess I would hang artwork by lots of different artists around my house, so art on my body should be no different.

3. Is it weird or normal not to get to see the sketch until the day of the tattoo appointment? This is my control freak speaking.

4. If an artist with a wait list gets and email for a consultation that is essentially a list of botanicals and question marks, what are the odds they'll actually want to take the consult?

5. I like the idea of being able to selectively show/cover my tattoo(s), a sleeve is much more out in the open. I'd love any words of wisdom from the ladies out there who have upper arm artwork - I've seen lots of "who cares what anyone else thinks?" responses, and I kind of wish I could be that confident, but I'm not quite there. Even in my 30's I have to admit that part of this is fear of what my (tattoo-less) extended family will think. I was pretty freaked out about showing my first tattoo to my mom - and she was a little skeptical - but she came around and says she likes it - yes, I still care what my mom thinks! Haha...

Wow, I sound like a basket-case... Help!  

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1. Yes, your e-mail will likely be ignored until they are willing to book new appointments. If proximity permits, drop by and visit the shop, the manager and/or artist to build a rapport and feel for the shop and how it works. 

2. No. Collecting from numerous artists is very common. More the norm. 

3. No. That is why it's important to know what style you want and ensure your artist is a master of that style. It is also not uncommon for drawings to be tweeked upon presentation and review by the customer. 

4. Not if that artist already has a history of doing that type of work. Don't try and assume that an artist good with one style can do great in another. That would be like expecting Justin Beiber to perform like James Brown. 

5. If you're hesitant about stepping out, why not choose a more hidden spot?

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S Stu gave you good advise.

I'll add to #5: I have a half-sleeve on one arm and a large piece on the other upper arm. Neither is actually very visible in regular short sleeved shirts. I have several large pieces on my thighs and lower legs and those definitely draw attention when I wear shorts, but jeans of course hide them all. I haven't yet progressed to forearms, as I'm not quite ready for something I can't cover easily (I live in the deep South and long sleeves are a rare thing for me out of uniform). You have to realize that you WILL get looks/stares, but that doesn't mean disapproval!  You'll probably get asked about your visible tattoos fairly often; again that's not a bad thing! I think S Stu's advise is sound: get more tattoos in more easily hidden places, and move to more visible places as your confidence grows.

Good luck!

Wildcat

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You are not a basket case. These are great questions and ones that SHOULD be asked/considered. You are putting something permanently on your body. Go with @SStu and @wildcat advice. I'm hard core corporate during the day and almost everything is covered (which is hard in the summer) but my tattoos on my upper back/neck peek out of my shirts. It's all good.

Funny story from last week: I showed up at a customer site all buttoned up and wearing black tights in the middle of summer. I had read that this customer had a "no visible tattoos" policy for customer facing roles. About 10 minutes into my visit, the Director rolled in wearing shorts and sporting a large calf tattoo. I silently giggled to myself.

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7 hours ago, Flora&Sons said:

Here I go again! Second tattoo booked for this afternoon. I opted for another collarbone piece on the other side with a new artist. Nervous but excited. See you on the other side ;)

Are you SURE? I don't want you to regret anything again. Hahaha.

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1. "Books closed" always makes me laugh. The best tattooists I have encountered don't advertise their books are closed, they will tattoo anything anytime (if they choose to). If the schedule is full, they will just tell you to wait or ignore you. My $0.02 "books closed" is my red flag. 

2. No problemo. Some people like the consistency and stick to 1 trusted artist. But I think it's great to get tattooed by lots of different people, they all tattoo a little different and you get a variety of different experiences. I have 20 tattooists who have worked on me to date.

3. Not seeing the sketch until the day of is part the game. It gives the work that proper tattoo magic. Very rarely have I seen my tattoo sketches in advance. It's normal to be freaked out about this but after a few tattoos you come to love the anticipation and excitement. It's like Christmas morning. Most tattooists sketch out your tattoo the night before or the morning of. Keeps the tattoo idea fresh and focused.

4. Question marks mean you haven't thought enough. WHAT DO YOU WANT. You should be able to answer that question in as few words as possible. Keep it simple. And be open to the tattooist expanding on your idea. 

5. If your nervous about 'outing' your tattoos a) don't get a tattoo, they are not for everyone b) pick a spot easier to hide. I had this same feeling and I got a bunch of body work before I dropped my tattoos down to the wrist. And before I had my sleeves, I made myself wear long sleeves to work for 3 solid years (winter and summer) to prove to myself that I could do it. You will eventually get to a point where you don't care, the tattoo is for you. I am at the point where if people have a problem with my tattoos - who I am - then I have no time or room from them in my life. The commitment, permanence and standing by your principles is something I have learned from getting tattoos over the years and really helped me find who I truly am and be comfortable in my own skin.

Good luck with your next one, sounds like a good choice for keeping some symmetry. Enjoy the ride !

Also, you are in Alberta - we have lots of excellent tattooists that are accessible (without closed books) scattered throughout Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and some of the small towns in between. There is a lot of tattoo history in Western Canada.

 

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9 minutes ago, bongsau said:

1. "Books closed" always makes me laugh. The best tattooists I have encountered don't advertise their books are closed, they will tattoo anything anytime (if they choose to). If the schedule is full, they will just tell you to wait or ignore you. My $0.02 "books closed" is my red flag. 

2. No problemo. Some people like the consistency and stick to 1 trusted artist. But I think it's great to get tattooed by lots of different people, they all tattoo a little different and you get a variety of different experiences. I have 20 tattooists who have worked on me to date.

3. Not seeing the sketch until the day of is part the game. It gives the work that proper tattoo magic. Very rarely have I seen my tattoo sketches in advance. It's normal to be freaked out about this but after a few tattoos you come to love the anticipation and excitement. It's like Christmas morning. Most tattooists sketch out your tattoo the night before or the morning of. Keeps the tattoo idea fresh and focused.

4. Question marks mean you haven't thought enough. WHAT DO YOU WANT. You should be able to answer that question in as few words as possible. Keep it simple. And be open to the tattooist expanding on your idea. 

5. If your nervous about 'outing' your tattoos a) don't get a tattoo, they are not for everyone b) pick a spot easier to hide. I had this same feeling and I got a bunch of body work before I dropped my tattoos down to the wrist. And before I had my sleeves, I made myself wear long sleeves to work for 3 solid years (winter and summer) to prove to myself that I could do it. You will eventually get to a point where you don't care, the tattoo is for you. I am at the point where if people have a problem with my tattoos - who I am - then I have no time or room from them in my life. The commitment, permanence and standing by your principles is something I have learned from getting tattoos over the years and really helped me find who I truly am and be comfortable in my own skin.

Good luck with your next one, sounds like a good choice for keeping some symmetry. Enjoy the ride !

Also, you are in Alberta - we have lots of excellent tattooists that are accessible (without closed books) scattered throughout Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and some of the small towns in between. There is a lot of tattoo history in Western Canada.

 

I like all your thoughts, but this one sentence is perfect, I couldn't agree more.

Edited by Dan

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Couple more thoughts on #1

1. If you don't ask you, you won't get the opportunity. Send the email and articulate what you want. You will either be ignored or will get a brief reply with instructions on the next steps. Don't email back repeatedly and be annoying, pushy and demanding. Those emails go to the trash can. I think an email a month or two later to followup if you haven't heard anything is ok. Be mindful that tattooists get very busy - tattooing all day and sketching at night - and are focused on the tattoo and client in front of them.

The best bet is to go to the shop IN PERSON and make a human connection, along with your awesome idea. Those folks get usually get bumped up a cue.

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As a tattoo artist, I can say that when someone closes their books, there could be a lot of reasons- we are people, too, and sometimes we need a break. Sometimes we have a personal reason. Sometimes we are booked out too far in advance and the idea of tattooing beyond a set point is too much stress to manage. Closing books to be able to focus on the clients already in progress isn’t laughable, it’s a responsible thing to do to ensure the Clients you have get the attention they need from you. Tattooing isn’t easy- it’s physically and psychically demanding, though it is enjoyable.

that being said, there is nothing wrong with getting tattooed by multiple artists and any artist that tries to lay a claim on your body is someone you should run away from, and quickly. 

Whether someone decides to take on a piece will depend on how much freedom the artist has to design and how interested they are in the style and project. If they aren’t interested, keep looking. Or ask what the artist is excited to do. This and some solid time spent looking at portfolios should give you an idea of if they are passionate about doing the thing you want.

As for not seeing the sketch until the day of, this is totally normal. If you need more time to consider, ask if you can schedule a second consultation to review the drawing before the day of your appointment. 

I hope that helps. If you come at us with the understanding that we are people, too, and not machines put on earth to do whatever you say, things will go well.

 

 

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, oboogie said:

Are you SURE? I don't want you to regret anything again. Hahaha.

Haha too late now! Love my first one and so far feeling great about this one. I love bactine sooo much!

Edited by Flora&Sons

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3 hours ago, RemedyRook said:

As a tattoo artist, I can say that when someone closes their books, there could be a lot of reasons- we are people, too, and sometimes we need a break. Sometimes we have a personal reason. Sometimes we are booked out too far in advance and the idea of tattooing beyond a set point is too much stress to manage. Closing books to be able to focus on the clients already in progress isn’t laughable, it’s a responsible thing to do to ensure the Clients you have get the attention they need from you. Tattooing isn’t easy- it’s physically and psychically demanding, though it is enjoyable.

that being said, there is nothing wrong with getting tattooed by multiple artists and any artist that tries to lay a claim on your body is someone you should run away from, and quickly. 

Whether someone decides to take on a piece will depend on how much freedom the artist has to design and how interested they are in the style and project. If they aren’t interested, keep looking. Or ask what the artist is excited to do. This and some solid time spent looking at portfolios should give you an idea of if they are passionate about doing the thing you want.

As for not seeing the sketch until the day of, this is totally normal. If you need more time to consider, ask if you can schedule a second consultation to review the drawing before the day of your appointment. 

I hope that helps. If you come at us with the understanding that we are people, too, and not machines put on earth to do whatever you say, things will go well.

 

 

 

 

 

So much respect for the hard work artists do! Just lucky to have so many creative folks to choose from. Thanks for the advice!

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Allow me to share a story that might help.  I had not had new ink in about 20 years. I am 56. Was a little nervous going into the local shop near my home after lots of research. Met a great, young artist with about 8 years experience. Guy is very talented and prefers to work by appointment. 

He is very down to earth and will quickly tell you what he can and cannot do. I booked an appointment and had a great experience. 4 sessions later I really appreciate his talent and the way he prefers to work on one large piece per day instead of high volume walk ins. Quality is always worth the wait. I usually book 30 days in advance because that's the only way I can get the exact times and dates I prefer.

If I were to China or Japan again knowing what I know now, would I get new ink from a different artist. Yes...it would be part of the experience. 

 

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