“I just love my tattoo! It was fast and efficient!” -nobody ever
Why do I want to rally the troops? Why do I want to reach out to artists? Because times have changed. The product is no longer the institutional names of big shops but the future solely relies on the individual tattoo artist to become the product.
The migration of artist moving from shop to shop is a telltale sign of unrest. The shops haven’t done anything wrong. The shops do what shops do. They find a way to get many tattoos done and profit. This is called grinding.
Grinding has the quality of repetitiveness and helps the individual artist understand the basics of their craft. Helping people quickly, delivering a tattoo efficiently and learning the basic work ethics to tattoo long hours. But nobody ever says “I just love my tattoo! It was fast and efficient!”
Ask people about their older tattoos. Ask them about the experience. Most people will say they love their tattoo, “except one thing”. Then they will go on to talk about long waits or feeling rushed or not given enough time to explain what they really wanted.
They trusted the SHOP. The ARTIST was just there to fulfill the order. This is the tension that dominates the industry. The minute an artist becomes an asset they are a liability. If they ask the shop for some rewards for all their commitment and hard work, it’s met with resistance and excuses. The shop is careful not to create disturbances amongst its worker bees. “Why should we pay you more? Then we’d have to pay every one more! You’re lucky to be here in the first place! Do you know how much we do for you!!”
So the first sign you’re in an institutional shop is:
The booth you tattoo out of is more important that you.
Don’t get angry. Understand the situation you are in. It is your job to fulfill the orders and tattoo the trendy images on customers all day. Don’t complain but understand the value you can get out the relationship between you and the shop. If you are one of the few that knows this is not the life for you, it is time to take steps to prepare yourself for your future.
You are on the path to become the product! It starts with self awareness and your environment. Are you feeling over qualified to tattoo your current customer?. Would you like to start tattooing ideas instead of images? Would you like to create orders instead of fill them? Are you ready to have an identity in your industry? If you are wanting to be known as the artist who tattoos a particular way then lets make that happen.
You are ready to find out how to tattoo clients and build a following that rewards you beyond quick cash and small rewards. You will be the product in demand and people will want you to tattoo them.