Friday, August 13, 2010

Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

I have often told Toby he needs to start a blog of his personal experiences of being a tattoo artist. If he were the writer type I'm sure he would.

Every day I hear stories of what his job entails and have on many occasions witnessed him at work. There is no way I could ever tell the tattoo tale for him but I can tell you his job is not one that I would ever want.

Shows like L.A.Ink and Miami Ink have glamorized the tattooist world. There are many people that envy what he does for a living (mostly men) believing that he spends most of his day stretched out over half-naked beautiful women. Granted, this may be the case on occasion but for the most part that's not the reality.

Let me give you the lowdown on being a clean-cut tattoo artist from his wife's point of view.

1. Some customers don't smell to good...body, breath, feet, etc. Being that close in proximity to someone for sometimes hours does not make for a pleasant experience for the artist.

2. Some customers get sick. Unfortunately because of safety and liability issues when someone feels ill they are not allowed to go to the restroom and vomit privately. This leaves the artist having to witness and smell someone elses upchuck in his/her garbage can.

3. Some customers are real sissies. They whine, flinch, move around, or want to take numerous smoke breaks. Flinching is akin to trying to draw in a moving car over a bumpy road...get the picture?? Whining and taking breaks just prolongs the inevitable and also makes the artist unable to manage his time therefore missing out on other potential customers. After all, tattooing is like sales...customers mean money.

4. Some customers are just plain assholes, picky, or wishy washy about what they want. Some even waste hours of an artists time by having them draw something up in the promise they will be back and never return or decide that's not what they wanted after all.

5. Some are drunk or like to talk about crazy stuff that the artist has to endure without an escape.

6. Some bring a whole gang of friends with them and they all want to crowd into the room making an already hot, small room even hotter and smaller...definitely a no-no to make your tattoo artist uncomfortable or cranky.

7. Some come in with $20 and want a $100 dollar tattoo. When the artists tells them it's not possible they claim that Xname shop down the road can do it for that much...the artist always wonders why they don't just go down the road to Xname shop.

8. An artist never knows what's going to happen once the customer walks out of the shop. They don't take care of their tattoo and blame the artist when they get an infection or they claim something happened that really didn't while they were in the artist chair....a very good reason why some shops have cameras in their shops.

9. There are NO fringe benefits like medical or life insurance, vacation days, retirement, or sick days. An artist sets himself up to work his ass off and to do it until he dies, whether he is sick or not.

10. An artist works long, weird hours. They work nine to twelve hour days and you go to work when most folks are at lunch and you get off work when folks are either in bed or already wherever they are going for the night.

11. If we didn't homeschool the hours and life would be hard on Summer and I.

12. Some people have a lack of respect for the artist and his job and don't consider it a "real job".

I'm sure there are a few I missed.

On the flip side I'm sure there must be something about being a tattoo artist that is alluring.....I can never really get a good answer from "Toby the Tattoost."


  1. I don't envy him! But, he probably wouldn't want my job either. We are currently without insurance too. Do you purchase your own? I have a broker looking, but the best we can find is almost $1500 a month, and that is with a really high deductable.

    It is an art and requires talent. People rarely want to pay for talent......

  2. Toby is very talented and people rarely want to pay for real talent. That is something that I have come to learn through doing craft shows-there is a lot of difference between crafts & tattoes, but I do know that it takes a lot of time & effort to do both and most people don't realize exactly what it takes to create something. Though I would not want his job, I do admire Toby and ya'll as a family. It takes a lot to do what ya'll are doing and it takes a family to bring it together as ya'll are doing.
    Love you!

  3. Thank you for this post, Laura...I will be sending to the person in our family who thinks being a Tattoo artist is just like tv...