By Dawn Cooke
This blog is about the intricacies of the client/artist relationship. It's sort of like any other relationship, only usually interactions happen in relatively short bursts and there are just so many of them. I try to always value this relationship and interaction. I think it is a valuable life experience for both parties, usually...
As a tattoo artists you come in contact with so many different kinds of people and if you don't take that opportunity to learn something, I think you are missing out. As a client I know that sometimes we have a tendency to think we have had a deeper bonding experience that we have with an artist but you have to try to keep in mind that while you may have had an impact on an artist so have potentially hundreds of other clients. While you are special, you are not totally exclusive. You may be reading this and say to yourself... "Really? Dawn, do you think we don't know this already?" Some people don't know this or they do and they just ignore the fact.
As a tattoo artist we have a tendency to forget the impact that we have had on individuals. We forget that the moment for getting a tattoo can be an intimate moment and sometimes the mark made serves as a permanent memento of that moment. You spend time in close physical proximity with individuals, sometimes strangers, while inflicting pain on them for sometimes hours. For us as artists it happens every day and we get used to it. But for our clients this is something very special and maybe not often does this kind of interaction occur.
Two stories off-hand I can relate to this topic. First, I wrote a small book something like a memoir of my experiences with clients in my last year of my undergrad. I wrote about my interactions and my thoughts about those interactions. I tried to bring a sense of humanity to those stories, but after some years of not seeing a few of those clients I have come to assume that perhaps they didn't appreciate me writing about their intimate moment in such a way. I didn't realize that this would be potentially damaging to my relationship with them. I tried to keep those individuals identities anonymous as much as possible and I told them that I was doing this project. But I think maybe in retrospect they didn't appreciate the brutal honesty with which I proceeded with my memoir. I also recognized, in retrospect, that told from my perspective somethings could have been easily misunderstood.
My next story relates to how a client took me for granted. Let's call her "Brittany" even though that isn't her name. It was the last session of a sleeve that had taken a long time to complete to the tune of two years. I had just got back from an out-of-town trip. I had been working all weekend. I had a previous appointment that took me 20 minutes into Brittany's appointment and when I spoke with her I apologized for the delay and explained that I needed to get a quick snack and reference for the pattern on the kimono for her tattoo. Twenty minutes later when I returned she was nowhere to be found. She had just left and when I called her she very snidely remarked that she wasn't going to wait for me because she simply didn't have time. She walked out on her very last tattoo session.
So my point is that is can be easy to take our clients and artists for granted. We have to remember that everyone is human. Everyone has to eat and everyone has emotions. Artists have to remember that for some people the interaction and experience of getting tattooed is very important and impacting. Clients have to remember that artists actually work very hard for the money that they get paid for that tattoo and they see hundreds of clients, that is if they are sought after. If your artist is a sought after individual you might have to wait on occasion and they may be very booked up. That's good news, that means you will very likely get a great tattoo! But you might not stand out in the mind of that artist, and not because you aren't wonderful, But because there are so many wonderful and not so wonderful people they encounter every day!
But if an artist has remembered you enough to write and think about you even though they deal with hundreds of people. That means you have had an impact on them and that maybe should be flattering to you in some way. Or ask not to be included at all if they are doing a project other than your tattoo. If your artist is running behind, be patient and if you can't stay just ask to reschedule your appointment! A tattoo shouldn't be something you need to rush in any way. Don't get angry if it doesn't happen your way right away. This isn't a Whopper! Let your artist eat and feel comfortable doing this work for you that you will cherish for your lifetime!
Artists should also remember how lucky they are to be sought after and appreciate every client who is gracious enough to commission a permanent mark on their bodies and their memories. It's something that should be a good experience for everyone. As artists we should try our best to facilitate it and expect to be treated fairly at the same time.
Read more articles from Dawn here: http://tattooartistmagazineblog.com/?s=dawn+cooke
(Dawn Cooke is a contributing blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine can be found at Depot Town Tattoo, 33 East Cross St. Ypsilanti, MI 48197 www.dawncooke.net and www.dawncookeart.com) Dawn Cooke is featured in Tattoo Artist Magazine #21:Digital copy of TAM #21 available here: http://tattooartistmagazine.myshopify.com/password