postimg
Mar 2011 03

by Clio, Lexie, Thistle, and Vanessa

SuicideGirls’ essential guide to tattoo etiquette: how to keep your artist sweet, and how to get the body art you want.


[Clio in Black Heart]

Do:

  • Research to find a suitable practitioner. Look up local artists, and ask around. If you happen to see someone that has a tattoo you are particularly fond of, ask them (politely) where they got it done.
  • Look at portfolios. Several different ones if you have to. Find someone with a style and personality that will mesh well with your own – especially if it’s your first.
  • Make an appointment, both for a consultation, and to get the actual work done. While walk-ins are convenient, if you have a more elaborate piece, respect the artist enough to give them time to work on it.
  • Be original.
  • Know what you want, and have several ideas about where you’d like the tattoo to go.
  • Make drawings (as long as you don’t have the art skills 5-year old) or find reference photos, as many as you think you’ll need to get across the concept/image you want.
  • Listen to the artist’s suggestions, and understand that they may say no to some of your ideas simply because they wouldn’t come out right or make a good tattoo.
  • Get something that means something personal to you, as long as it’s easy enough to convey. Getting a tree that twists into a lizard that has bird wings and a feathered mask may be the most sacred thing you could possibly think of in this world, but, really, how would that look? Weird, that’s how.
  • Bathe beforehand.
  • Bring something (non-alcoholic) to drink.
  • Let your artist know if you feel like you’re going to be sick and/or pass out. The last thing you want on your person is a big line going in the direction you fainted because you didn’t tell your artist you were about to black out.
  • Tip your tattoo artist. ALWAYS. Even if they’re your best friend. TIP THEM. It’s rude and offensive not to. As a rule, leave an extra 20%, unless it’s something minimal like $50-$60, then tip about $10. If it’s a HUGE piece that the artist works on for over 5 hours, then tip anywhere from 25 to 30%. (If the artist also happens to be your significant other and they won’t accept money, give them some extra good sex that night or something.)



[Lexie in Noir Staircase]

Don’t

  • Copy someone else’s tattoo verbatim – it’s pathetic and infuriating. (While they say imitation is the highest form of flattery, it’s also good reason for an artist, who spent hours coming up with something original, to kick your ass.)
  • Make the artist change the concept of your tattoo 400 times. A few changes, modifications or additions are fine. But keep it reasonable.
  • Get a piece started and have another artist finish it unless there’s a good reason behind it, such as a long distance move, or you just didn’t work well with that artist. (See SG’s Tommy Lee interview for more on this particular faux pas).
  • Call them “tatts” (they’re “tattoos”).
  • Call it a “tattoo gun” (it’s a “machine” or “instrument”).
  • Do it drunk or high. The last thing the artist needs is you smelling like ass, rambling about how much whiskey you’ve ingested and your amazing stories of shoplifting things from Walgreens.
  • Drink coffee or alcohol before your appointment. Caffeine can enhance pain perception, while alcohol can cause nausea, dehydration, and fainting while you’re getting tattooed.
  • Bring food into the store – it’s unsanitary.
  • Bring 10 friends with you (one buddy for moral support is a good idea though).
  • Skip out on appointments. Cancel in a reasonable time.
  • Waste the artist’s time.
  • Move too much while you’re being tattooed. I know being tattooed is not the best feeling on earth, but at least TRY not to. If you’re squirming and wiggling around, and your tattoo comes out looking like a Picasso, that’s your fault.
  • Be a pussy when you asked for a full chest piece and it – surprise – hurts.
  • Throw up on your artist – that’s just gross. There’s no shame in puking. It hurts, your adrenaline is going, and sometimes your body can freak out. Just make sure you make it to the bathroom in plenty of time.
  • Fall asleep in the chair. (If you wake up with your face covered in stars like that stupid girl from the UK, again, that’s your fault.)
  • Get a tattoo in a language you don’t speak. Your artist probably won’t be able to tell if it’s mistranslated or misspelled! And while Italian sounds really great and looks even greater, you may have just gotten “My dog’s breathe smells yellow” on your forearm.
  • Get tattooed at a house party, or from someone who will give you a discount/trade for beer, weed, or cigarettes.

  • [Thistle in The Lowrider]

    Remember:

    • Getting your kids’ names, your parents’ names, your pets’ names, your siblings’ names tattooed on you, that’s sweet. Getting your current significant other’s name, not so much. No matter how in love you think you are, things can go wrong.
    • This is YOUR tattoo! It will be on YOUR body forever! If your artist suddenly decides he/she wants to change something on a whim and you don’t speak up about not liking it, you’re stuck with it. Don’t be afraid to speak up, it’s supposed to be a collaboration between you and the artist.
    • Cheap prices don’t usually equal good tattoos. In general, you pay for what you get. And if you pay $20 to some person with a homemade tattoo gun, you’ll likely end up with something spelled wrong and whatever it was you were trying to get tattooed looking like Pee Wee Herman.
    • Last, but not least, don’t let anyone talk crap about any of your tattoos (unless it’s your significant other’s name). It’s YOUR tattoo. It means something to you. People who make fun of other people’s tattoos are incredibly rude. I have an orange on a toothpick on the back of my left arm. “WTF is that about? It’s so stupid! What a dumb tattoo!” It’s my tattoo I got in honor of my older brother because we both love So I Married An Axe Murderer. Yeah, don’t have shit to say about it now, do you? Ass.


    [Vanessa in My Favorite Things]

    4 comments
    MonaRock
    MonaRock

    I agree with all of this! I'm already planing carefully what tattoos I want to have. Most of them will be unique and very special for me. I'm just afraid of when I'll do my first time it will hurt (of course) and I move suddenly, it can get smeared! OMG

    Anonymous
    Anonymous

    ¿En qué estás pensando...?4

    Anonymous
    Anonymous

    ¿En qué estás pensando...?4

    Bonnie
    Bonnie

    I thought the dumb girl with the face full of stars was from Belguim not the UK! Don't you go tarring us English folk with other people's stupidityY We've got enough of our own to deal with! And as for significant others' names, I'm guilty. But on the plus, we're still married ;)