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Allow Your Artist to Tell You No

Now I can’t speak for all tattoo artists, but what I can guarantee is that the artists at Lucky Bamboo Tattoo are invested in your tattoo. They strive to provide the best artwork for every tattoo. Because of this, they have the unfortunate task of telling people ‘No’ from time to time. Typically, they aren’t simply saying no, but rather explaining why an idea might not work well as a tattoo. This may be due to the level of detail the artwork calls for or for many other reasons. This can be an uncomfortable conversation, but usually leads to the evolution of the tattoo. Something that may be similar but will result in a much better tattoo. And often, clients leave thanking their artist for being honest with them, and thanking them for providing a much better option, one the client may not have even thought of. 

Nobody likes to hear no or feel like something they are passionate about is met with negativity. Our artists will not lead you astray, or “give in” to someone’s demands, with the knowledge that they will learn the hard way, that the tattoo just doesn’t work. 

Take a moment to examine the image above. This is a tattoo I received roughly 3 years ago. The artist I worked with is NOT a part of the LBT team. I believe he did an excellent job, and I’ve been happy with the result. But as I learn more about tattoos and the world of tattooing, I wish this artist would have given it to me straight. This tattoo would have been better off, much bigger, and done in a different location. The design is highly detailed, and as time goes by, the clarity of the tattoo inevitably decreases. Meaning, the lines, and shading and tiny details are slowly blurring into one another.

When this artist asked about the tattoo I wanted, I let him know I would like a gothic cathedral and planned on putting it somewhere on my arms. He did not provide a quote, so I wasn’t even sure what I would be spending. When I arrived at the shop, we started discussing the final details. He asked what space I had left, I showed him my arms and he suggested the lower arm. He asked how big I was wanting it, I told him I really didn’t know, but was open to however big or however small he suggested. His response was “well, you’ll have to decide”. So, I held my fingers up and he said “ooooookay”. At that moment I felt like my answer was wrong, but he had already started the stencil, and I opted to just sit in silence until the tattoo was done. After he cleaned and bandaged me, it was time to pay. I paid and offered him a generous tip. After he accepted payment, he decided it was the right time to tell me, “So those details are tiny, and your tattoo will not look like that forever” I expressed understanding and thought well that’s life.

But it isn’t. If you find an artist that really truly cares, they will tell you the unfortunate truths. This won’t’ work, these details will blur, this tattoo would be better located elsewhere, have you thought about trying this instead, etc. All of these statements aren’t meant to hurt anyone’s feelings or make someone feel silly for wanting something. But rather, they are steppingstones toward a better and more beautiful tattoo.

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