I read a post today that my friend and colleague had brought to my attention, click here to read it. It was about a woman who had been turned down for a neck tattoo from a few tattoo shops, finally landing on one that did her tattoo. She went on about how this artist Dan, “…and artists are a) not exactly known for not being dicks”(her words), told her he would not do her neck tattoo(oh the horror), went into a little detail of the conversation(her side of the story keep in mind) and how she held back the tears after leaving the place. The whole article reeked of anger, resentment and retribution by social media. All those elements add up to be a bad cologne to wear. I am not a writer, I tattoo. I leave the writing to my college professor siblings, so forgive my poor grammar and lack of better words in what I say.
Let me start by talking about New York Adorned. It is a New York tattoo landmark, that shop was there before tattooing was legal in New York. Some of the best tattooers in the world came out of there or worked there at some point and some still do. She stated in her post that people referred to it as a “hipster shop”. That may be, but I will always refer to it as one of the landmark tattoo shops in NYC, as I’m sure many other tattooers and tattoo collectors would agree.
Holding a job at a shop that has a long standing good reputation means that you have to follow by certain unwritten laws, a code of ‘tattoo ethics’ if you will. One of these codes is to try and be a good judge of wether or not someone might regret a tattoo or not. You might read this and think that is silly, but read this when your drunken 18 year old daughter goes into a tattoo shop and wants a big name on her neck, then tell me our rules are silly. We as tattooers are taught, at least from the ‘school’ I was taught, to guide our clients into tattoos that they will enjoy for the rest of their lives, not only the tattoo itself but the placement as well, but where do you draw the line?
I personally won’t do neck or hand tattoos on anyone who isn’t already heavily tattooed in other places, although I have made exceptions. These exceptions are usually based on financially stability of the client, age, career status and the rare obscure other circumstance; I’ll give an example. Once while working in New York, a middle aged man came to me wanting a hand tattoo, as soon as he saw my eyes squint at him ever so slightly he said, “let me plea my case with you!”, he obviously knew our tattoo rules of ethical practice. He began to show me his complete sleeve and his half sleeve on the other side, the side he wanted his hand done, and explained to me why it was only a half sleeve. He was fighting a disease which required him to have regular blood work on that forearm, it was causing scarring and needed regular upkeep and healing so he was waiting until he was better before he finished that forearm. He told me that he didn’t want to miss this opportunity to get his hand done by me and had been waiting for a while, he also proved to me that he has his own construction business and his tattoos would not effect his livelihood. I did the tattoo.
There are sometimes exceptions to the rule, but we as tattooers should always practice good tattoo ethics. Of course it is always up to the tattooer on where to draw the line, some may be more strict than others. In my opinion, this woman’s article came off more of a complaint about a bad experience rather than a bad ‘tattoo’ experience, which could’ve happened anywhere. So to all the people out there young, old and every age in between, don’t be mad if you are possibly turned down for a neck, face or hand tattoo. We are just doing our job as tattooers and are doing our best to use our experience in the art of permanency to assure you don’t ruin your life, as horrible as that may be.
I have attached a few tattoo photos and wrote a brief description of why I tattooed their neck or hand.