The traditions of tattooing have been deeply rooted in the echoes of time. If you meet anyone who has been tattooing for more than 15 years, they will tell you how things used to be. Truly, tattooing has changed and evolved from the sponge and bucket days. With many progressive features being most noticeable on the sanitary side of tattooing, craftsman are more reserved to evolve with the business aspects of the industry and culture.
With the new texture of tattooing, many of the old ways are let go with claw marks. Unwritten rules that once protected the business side of the industry are firmly in place without a consideration to why. Competitive industries have developed at a rapid pace. Tattooing has been pushed to a new high while the old guard is screaming, “That’s not the way we used to do it!”
While the romantic aspects of tattooing are notably filled with the best stories and banter, trying to hold onto them entirely is counter productive. The new breed of tattoo artists may learn how to navigate the culture by paying attention to an aged mentor.
The aged mentor could learn a lot by adopting some of the ways introduced by the new breed.
1. You still charge 1990 prices.
Everything has gotten more expensive. Everything. The spending power of the dollar has weakened but you still charge $100/hour. This was the going rate in 1995. The average shop’s minimum was 40 dollars. Ask yourself this question, what is the minimum payment you will accept to be exposed to blood borne pathogens?
There is a inaccurate reasoning that since your mentor/idol only charges 150/hour, you should charge less. The idea being that their experience level has set the benchmark for the acceptable hourly rate. The fact is that they are afraid to charge more. Do not let this mental obstacle keep you from charging your worth.
A diesel mechanics going rate is 140/hour. Let that sink in.
2. You don’t start tattooing until noon.
How does this even make sense? Your top paying and most respectful clients are awake by 6 am. They have good paying jobs and are responsible in most aspects of life. They are more apt to respect your time and commitment. So why do you make them wait around all day?
Opening a shop at noon is an old practice from when the average customer was a rebel rousing drunk. The lowlifes of the world were the life blood of tattooing’s business. If this is your comfort zone, then feel free to keep wasting the good part of the day.
I have a family and would prefer to work 9-5 Monday thru Friday. I’ve had this schedule for several years and my wife loves it.
3. You shame your clients if they get tattooed someplace else.
GTFO. This is the worst practice that has been used for decades. It is the idea that if you create a mini army of clients and customers who hate your competition, then you don’t have to be good at tattooing, you just have to be more manipulative. This is how an abusive relationship develops.
Trash talking the competition really lowers your professionalism. In fact, it is just plain bush league. Taking it to the next step and shaming your customer for getting tattooed someplace else is even lower. You are a bully. You do not own your customers. They can do what ever the hell they want. If you find that you keep losing business to another artist, you are probably a jerk.
I’d rather get a bad tattoo from a great person than a great tattoo from a bad person.
4. They must call the shop.
This one is hilarious. They average person has a no less than 5 addresses. They have a cell, email, Facebook, snail mail and a dozen ways to PM through popular apps. You hate when someone tries to contact you directly! You write long posts about how you only do business through the shop. You think people are going to be calling you at all hours of the night to get tattooed. Meanwhile you are practically begging people to get tattooed with you announcements of deals and cancelations on Instagram.
If you don’t make it easy to get in touch with you, then they won’t.
5. You are always right.
You live in a bubble. Your political views and food tastes are rivaled by none. Everything you spout in your protective domain goes unchallenged. That includes your drawing skills, color choices and correcting customers request. You act as if you are surrounded by idiots and spend most of your time bad mouthing previous customers.
When questioned, you get highly offended and hide behind the secrecy of tattooing. You think you know best but you are actual transparent. What you do is not secret. You will only fool the naive. When they figure out that you are a fast talker to slow thinkers, your sales pitch will grow sour. Tattooing is built on trust. That trust is weakened when you are a jerk.