A no-good very-bad tattoo experience.

Pity the artist was such a dick, I do like this tattoo

Before I begin, a few caveats.
Perhaps the artist & I just didn’t get along.
I haven’t heard anyone else complain about him. The studio is still excellent, this was a guest artist. I’m not sure I want to name either of them.

I’d seen the artist’s work on Instagram & as soon, literally as soon, as I saw that he was booked to do a guest spot in NZ I was sold.

I sent an email asking if he could tattoo me, if he had any time on the Friday or Saturday of his visit as I would be flying up to Auckland, not the easiest or cheapest thing.
I also asked if he was keen to do the kind of tattoo I was after, a symmetrical flower similar to ones I had seen in his portfolio but in bright “feminine” colours like pink and purple. I told him I was looking to get it done on the back of my neck.

He seemed to have no queries as he emailed me back and set up an appointment.

I arrived at the studio 10 minutes before our appointment time (I am punctual to a fault). The first thing he asked me was where I was getting the tattoo again. He seemed annoyed the back of my neck was so small.

He huffed about the place shrinking it down – telling me about how he would have to simplify what he’d shown me, and that if he made it too small it would look “shit.”

From the outset I told him that I would trust his instincts as he was the artist and if he had any other idea about placement, I was open to it.

After trying to put the stencil on a few times, barely saying anything or telling me what he was doing, pushing my head this way and that, we had the following conversation:

Him: I can’t make it fit. I’ve already shrunk it about 20%. If I do it any smaller it’s going to look shit. I’m not sure what you want to do …
Me: Oh.
Him: Yea. This won’t work on your neck. I’m not sure what you want to do.
Me: Uh. Well I don’t want to just leave it, I flew all this way …
Him: ………..
Me: Ummm. Would it work as a shoulder cap?
Him: uh yea, I suppose.

So we did it as a shoulder cap and halfway through the tattoo he disappeared.


He’d just finished the outline when he put down his tattoo machine, took of his gloves, and left the room. He didn’t say anything to me or to either of the two artists in the room and just left me there. He came back, eventually.

He asked me what colours I wanted I told him “like I said in my email, girly colours, pinks, purples, turquoise, yellow, unexpected colours.” His petulant response?
“Oh. So all the colours I don’t do.”
He stormed around the studio making a big show of borrowing colours from the other artists. I was such an imposition.

It was at this point I wanted to tell him to just forget it, that I would get someone else to finish it, but I’ve never done that before. I’m pretty sure that’s something that’s just not done. I was also pretty sure I would burst into tears if I tried to talk, and I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction.

If I had any kind of hint when I’d emailed him that he would be anything other than pleased to do this tattoo? I wouldn’t have flown to Auckland. I wouldn’t have done all of this. I could have avoided this whole stinking mess.
I could have a tattoo that I just like, not one where I’m reminded of a jerk.

When he was finished he didn’t even take a photo, he barely let me look at it, wrapped my arm, told me about after-care, and I got out of there as quick as humanly possible. On the street I called Craig and sobbed.
Shortly thereafter I unfollowed him on instagram.

Post-tattoo, post-crying jag

There’s no moral to this story, I haven’t really learnt any kind of lesson.
I guess some people are just jerks.



  1. Simonne · August 4, 2013

    I hope that in time, sooner rather than later, the artist fades to nothing and you are left only with good feeling about a very beautiful piece of work that you get to look at forever. And that you look at that work and think of yourself x It’s really amazing. The colours are amazeballs.

  2. tara (@tarasutherland) · August 4, 2013

    What an A_Hole!

    I know you went all that way but I would have told him quite loudly to f’ing shove his bad attitude. If he didn’t want to do what you had discussed then I would have paid him a deposit and walked out.
    For what its worth, I really like the placement.

  3. Danelle Bourgeois (@danelle_b) · August 4, 2013

    Good lord, this guy sounds like a total d-bag. I don’t understand why he would have been so taken aback by your requests (especially after you having already told him prior to the booking). It’s like he just fell apart when he found out the colour red wasn’t involved like in all his other tattoos and couldn’t process it. At least the end result actually looks amazing!! And I like the placement of it too – as a shoulder cap instead of the back of the neck. Hopefully one day it won’t remind you of him and all you’ll see is the beauty of it. It looks great! 🙂

  4. Kowhai · August 4, 2013

    What a jerk. This is the moral of the story: jerks be jerking.

    I love the colours and the placement. Your choices are what makes it awesome and why it is on your body, so own that I reckon.

  5. katinedinburgh · August 5, 2013

    What a jerk jerk jerk. He could have just replied and said about the colours, and he didn’t have to make you feel like that.

    I’m glad it turned out so beautifully though. xx

  6. novaisawesomeful · August 6, 2013

    This is a tough one for me to comment on because I can see both sides of the coin here actually. Sort of. I’m still on your side haha but I have seen bad miscommunications happen plenty of times like this before, so let me give you my two cents.

    The size thing is a legitimate concern, you cannot do certain things too small or they’ll really look bad in a few years. BUT that being said, he really could have communicated with you much much much better about that, not just said “It’ll look shit”, you know? I think he assumed you knew as much about tattoos as he did. He also could have drawn it to the size you wrote originally in the email or said “hey, that spot may be too small but I’ll see what I can do” or something.

    I have worked with many different tattoo artists and a lot of them are really bad at people skills. It’s not an excuse for him to act that way, just something I noticed. It’s not anything you did.

    OR another thing it could have been is that somebody else was fucking up his bookings (like maybe the shop is run differently than he’s used to or they have a new counter person or his girlfriend is taking his emailed appointments down for him and doing a bad job of getting all the info down) and he was over-scheduled and under-informed and didn’t have time to go back and double check what every client wanted. Sometimes that happens too. But still, he shouldn’t have taken it out on you in that way.

    And I’m not sure about the color thing…he doesn’t “DO” those colors? It sounds like he has a very specific traditional style and only wanted to do things in that style?? He should have told you in the email.

    Some guys really have the traditional tattoo artist mindset as well, basically “fuck the customer service, take their money and do what you do, smoke a cigarette while you’re tattooing” but I doubt somebody that popular could have gotten that far with that mindset. I can’t stand hearing that shit, guys like that thinking they’re better than their clients. Not cool.

    Making people who are spending loads of money getting a permanent thing feel like an imposition is a terrible way to treat your clients. I’m sorry you had that experience. At least in the end the tattoo is beautiful. I’ve been lucky to never have had a crappy time with a tattoo artist but unfortunately my boyfriend has, so I know second hand how bad it makes you feel.

  7. novaisawesomeful · August 6, 2013

    Well, that was a long comment! haha sorry!

  8. Melissa · August 6, 2013

    That sucks! I would have been exactly the same way, gotten myself so wound up internally that I would cry if I tried to get angry out loud! At least it is pretty, I really like it.

  9. Venom de Plume (@Hell_Skate) · January 27, 2014

    It is really pretty. You remind me of me. I have a similar tattoo that isn’t exactly what I was after, but I have learned to like it in its own right. I find communicating with tattoo artists quite hard… some are communicators, some just arent. Seems like you got one from the ‘arent’ category, with a side serving of douchebag! I reallllly realllly weant to know who it was though??

    • Sarah-Rose · January 28, 2014

      Hahaha. I’m sorry, I don’t feel like he deserves to be ‘named and shamed’ as maybe it was just a really bad day!

  10. LibLib · June 21, 2014

    All will be well, tomorrow! Have fun!

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