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Surprise tattoos, and friend inquiries

If recent months I have had a few situations where I have had a husband who is inquiring for their wife, or a friend trying to set up another appointment as a surprise for their friend.

Now while in theory, this is a pretty good idea, it is a very difficult thing to try and orchestrate. There are a lot of things that go into planning a tattoo.

The biggest issue is that, if you are trying to surprise someone, it is really hard for me to ask them the important questions pertaining to themselves (the client) and the tattoo idea. This stage in the process is where we attempt to ‘connect’ and the artist is in a primary stage of understand a clients needs. If we aren't connecting with them directly, we will always be missing the mark.

It's like trying to shoot for a goal post, but instead of the client telling you where the goal post is, there is an extra person on a balcony miles away trying to tell you where to shoot over the phone, while they are looking at the goal through binoculars. They won't know how far 50 yards is, because they have only a rough approximation of the distance from their point of view.

It all turns into a bad game of telephone very quickly.

More often than not, I have seen this kind of execution of a project, leave a tattoo collector less satisfied than I feel they could be. This is my primary concern with these kinds of bookings for friends and loved ones.

My ultimate goal is that my collectors enjoy their artwork. Their access to the best of my art is always the goal.

This can be a difficult goal to achieve, especially because art can be so subjective.

*(I would like to cover this topic more thoroughly, but I struggle finding the correct terms for this issue)


I wanted to suggest a few ways to go about surprising a partner or friend, that might not put so much pressure on the Artist, and still give the friend the best kind of surprise.

If you want to do something special that you can wrap, and give a physical gift, make them a piggy bank or savings box. You can even buy and decorate a shadow box from Michael’s for super cheap and still make it look pretty. If you can’t be with them in person during the tattoo session, building them something physical also gives them the control to book the tattoo wherever and with whoever they like.

If you want something less flashy, set aside a savings for them, and save up to pay for a portion of the tattoo. I’ve even seen friends come to the tattoo session and pay for their friend’s tattoo while they were finishing up, or in the rest room after the session is complete.

This is the best way to give your friend or spouse the gift you want to give them, without running any risks of them not being happy with their experience.

These suggestions give the client and the artist freedom to work together in a more appropriate way.

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