By Larry Brogan
Courtesy of Tattoo Road Trip: How many times have you gotten excited about doing a big cool tattoo where you spend all kinds of time designing, hunting for reference images and hours of drawing a piece that you just know it’s going to be one of your best ever? You even get to the shop early and set up your station, and the next thing you realize, your appointment is 20 minutes late. After waiting around, losing your excitement minute by minute, you call the client’s number only to get voicemail. It’s then that you realize you have been stood up. At first, you are bummed, because you have been itching to do the piece, and then you realize that you just spent hours drawing, and all for nothing. Then you get pissed, because you will quite possibly have to sit on your thumb all day, doing nothing and making no money. Well, at least you took that $20-dollar deposit. Maybe you can buy lunch with it...
My solution to this problem is to start taking BIG DEPOSITS. The rule that I use is: $250 for a half-day appointment and $500 for a full-day booking. For smaller tattoos, a $100 minimum deposit is required. And if the total cost is under $100, I make them pay in full when scheduling.
In my shop, appointments are non-refundable but transferable one time, provided that you give the artist notice at least seventy-two hours in advance, so that we have enough time to book something else for that spot. This is more money than most people will want to walk away from, unlike the client who would rather lose the $20-dollar deposit than face the embarrassment of calling to say that, “Mommy threatened to kick me out of the house if I got tattooed.”
Taking large deposits helps to weed out the kind of people who will leave you high and dry. The result is, you end up with more sincere, honest clients. I deal with most of my appointments via email. When someone inquires about getting tattooed, I have an appointment letter already typed up and saved on my computer. I send it to them with any minor adjustments, like how soon I can get them in. I tell them the days and hours that I work, that I require a deposit and how much is needed to hold the appointment. They are made aware that the deposit is not refundable and why.
I explain that I will work with them to get the best possible artwork for their body and to realize that there are issues such as size, detail, placement and making sure it fits and flows with the body properly, issues that I must have ample control of in order to create the most awesome tattoo possible. They are told about the hourly rate or a flat rate, if that is the case, and I explain that, in the event of a multi session tattoo, the deposit rolls over to each following appointment and is applied toward the last session.
If the potential client is sincere about getting tattooed by you they will not have a problem putting down a large deposit and will understand that the work and time you will be putting into their body art (even before they actually come into the shop) is worth the money.
(Larry can be found at Tattoo City Skin Art Studio in Lockport, IL.)