Why are some tattoo artists mean?

How many times have you entered the tattoo shop just to realize that man behind the computer does not really want you there? How many times have you heard that your ideas are not right, and in general he doesn’t want to talk to you? Did you ever wonder why?

I am a tattoo artist for over 8 years now, I am pretty sure that I know the answer. But it is a bit more complicated then it looks. To answer that, we have to understand when Tattooer is happy!

1. All tattoo artists want to make great tattoos.

And this is true. Up to this moment all the artists I met care about the final effect. They want to be the best, and they are concerned about the results. Motivation is mostly personal, but it doesn’t change the fact that Tattoo Artists, in general, care about the effect greatly.

2. Tattoo artists progress levels.

Progress is a key word here. Artists want to be successful. As being an Artists myself, I know what I am saying here. Let’s assume that this progress happens like in computer game. So as a character progresses, gets new gear and gets a better skill set, he is able to reach another level. Same with Tattooing. Within each level Artist needs to progress on:

  • essential skills and knowledge – by this, I understand drawing, painting, designing, tattoo hardware knowledge, and all super cool stuff related to that.

  • presentation and communication – so how Artist is able to communicate and present this skills, and experience to the customer. It can be a direct presentation in the shop or indirect on the Internet.

  • customer service – how the friends entering the studio or shop are treated. Are they welcomed with a cold Fanta, will they get a blanket if they feel cold during the tattoo, is Artists compassionate, and etc.

To get to the higher level, Artist has to progress on all of those sections. Doing just one is not enough. To make guests happy, is not enough to make a good tattoo. Often atmosphere, and the whole experience matters. Tattooing is such a unique moment in our lives that we perceive it fully. Not only by design quality.

Or on the opposite side, Tattooer might be the best at customer service, and he may communicate his skills perfectly, he may spend great time laughing with you, but how much it matters if tattoos done by him are weak? So, getting to the next level, all the sections are essential.

3. The wrong level read.

I like to see myself as a pretty happy person. I love life, I have a beautiful wife, fantastic kids, awesome dog. I travel, teach, learn. I do not have to work in harsh conditions, I have loads of joy in my life. My studio is warm, welcoming and in general a great place to be!
What makes such a big difference between me, and some other Tattooers?

It is the level read. Lets humbly say I am at the level 5. And I read this as a level 5. I accept it, and I work hard each day to reach level 6, and eventually level 30.

Unhappy Artists are at level 5, but they genuinely believe that they are at level 10. To be honest with you, they might be there with their drawing skills for instance. But as mentioned before, it does not matter if the rest of the components are not in place. So if Tattooers drawing skills will be at 10, and customer service at 5, he still will end up being at 5!

And from my experience let me say that customers have a fantastic and accurate reading on that! And they know with which level they are dealing!

So such an Artists is not happy. He believes that he deserves more! That he should get more customers, better ideas, better tattoos. He is ready to do all of that. Why can those people around him not see that? And this creates harder moments… One day Tattooer is not happy...so he is a little bit grumpy, they second day, third, fourth...and suddenly, from a lovely chap, he is transforming into some kind creepy creature that is not nice to the people who he should love – customers.

Artists like that believe – it is all customer’s thought! But the truth is:

4. Problem is always in Artist not in customer.

And the moment the Tattooer starts to think like that is like enlightenment! Because now all is in his arms! Now he can change the current stage, he can learn, he can progress. So there is no time for being grumpy anymore. It is time to train.

5. Learning and Training are crucial for Tattoo Career.

This is also a big misconception that I think leads to less charming tattoo artists. It is believed that you learn to tattoo by doing it only. So in simple words, it is enough if you come to work day after day, and do some designing, and do some tattooing and you will be better each day.

Facts are different. Tattoo Artists job does not differ at all in this area from Medical Professional, Lawyer or IT specialists. Artist has to learn on a regular basis to stay at the top of his game! Like old-time masters, same practitioners. Observe better Artists, find a mentor, copy pictures of masters from the past, etc. Options for learning and training in today world are almost endless.

Important: Not all Artists are like that! I am just saying about grumpy ones.

Thanks, friends for reading my article.
If you like it, please support my work by commenting on this post.
If you do not agree, please comment too. I am curious to see what you think.
I also do mentor program for selected few, so if you are interested just drop me a line.


No, thanks. I love my hamster wheel.