six signs it might suck for life

the title isn’t as ominous as it sounds…

…although, i guess in some ways it kinda is.

i don’t know how long i’ll work in the tattoo industry, but as it’s hit the three year mark, and i’ve had jobs (very few) that have lasted less than that (technically my professional radio career did, and that was between two separate gigs) i figure it was high time a sixer or two came out of it. i did so many off the concert industry, and i was there for just under three and a half years, so it’s way overdue. for all curious, my longest job stint is TECHNICALLY thirty days shy of five years, which was with dell – but as i was doing the exact same thing for a temp agency there before dell hired me full time i count it all together, which would put it at two and a half months PAST the five year line. but we’re going off where needn’t bother – so let’s get back to…


where are the bullets? – there are certain terms that are used OUTSIDE the industry that are abhorred by those actually in it…and probably one of the most common is the reference to the tattoo machines as “guns”. don’t get me wrong – in most shops there ARE guns in building – but there of the more common bullet-spewing variety and you won’t see them; but if you do something is about to go really wrong for you. if your “artist” refers to his machine as a “gun”, run. it’s actually worse than the other common pet peeve…

there’s a reason my spell check is putting a squiggly red line under the word “tatted” – because it’s not a real word. don’t get me wrong – everything spell check catches isn’t an error – take the word “texting” for example, which is common in today’s lexicon but still flags. i’m sure in a couple more years it won’t flag – but i hope “tatted” still does. again, if YOU as a customer make some reference to “all tatted up” (the most common use of the word) or “getting tatted” so be it – but if your “artist” does, run…’cause if he does it was fitting i just put that in quotes.

you have to tell me your artist is really good – tattoos aren’t like cars or sex where one has to EXPERIENCE it first hand to really know it’s good. i should be able to look at the tattoo and tell if the artist is worth a shit. keep in mind i help run five (soon to be six) shops and have had a hand in hiring a good chunk of the staff. i know “good” when i see it. if you have to TELL Me it’s good guess what – it’s not. in that case i guess it kinda IS like fucking…if you have to tell your partner that was good for them it wasn’t good for them.

fuck it, we’re doing it live…fuck it! – i’ve heard this in conjunction with the one above…that there artist was “really good at free hand” and didn’t even draw it in advance. or draw it on them. they just fired up “the gun” and went at it. bad call. i know a lot of amazing artists – some of them will draw on paper, then make a stencil, then go. others will typically do that, and then on some occasions will draw directly on you with a skin scribe (hint – if it’s being used on your skin and drawn over it should be one of these, as they’re pre-sterilized) but i’ve never known anybody that just does it straight away with no plan. i’ve seen some of the greats work and they don’t do it that way. something tells me your “homeboy” or your homeboy’s cousin, or whoever the fuck ranks up there anywhere NEAR some of the guys (and girls) i’ve watched work their magic. i’m just sayin’. lest i quote every fifth customer i deal with…”it’s permanent!”

gas, grass, or ass – nobody gets tatted up for free! – here’s something i don’t get. if you knew of a place you could get medical service in exchange for weed or beer or rims or whatever the fuck would you trust it? i mean, it concerns your body…as does a tattoo or piercing. so why the fuck would you trust somebody that says they’ll do a half sleeve on you of jesus and the devil in a cage match for a nickel bag and a sixer of bud light platinum? the only options should be cash or credit/debit cards. shit, i wouldn’t even trust somebody that would take a check.

what? no option “c”? – it your choice is the kitchen or the porch ’cause your “artist”‘s mom is tired of ink on her living room carpet get the fuck out of the trailer park and go to a real shop. i’ll tell you a secret – if they SAY they work in a shop, but will take care of you on the side, they’re probably full of shit and don’t work in a shop. if they say they USED to work in a shop, and went off on their own to make more money, they’re probably full of shit. most common reason i’ve had to fire people is shitty work (they will bring in portfolio’s full of other artist(s) work and pass it off on their own, and until you see their work you don’t realize this), followed by stealing from us and drugs as a two way tie for the silver. any way you slice it, it ends badly for you. if there’s no paperwork, no shop, and no professional environment, there probably WILL be more than a tattoo that you walk out with. like the HIV. or the hep. or the staff infection. or lord knows what…i’ve said it in the shop on numerous occasions – i’ve never seen a tattoo done in somebody’s house that didn’t look like a tattoo done in somebody’s house. typically they rank BELOW prison work in their quality. at least an artist in the joint knows he could take a sharpened toothbrush to the ribs if he fucks up. what’s trailer boy’s motivation?

something tells me this might be a series.

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