Tattoos are fun but sometimes the clients are less than desirable. These tattoo artists share the brattiest, most entitled clients they’ve ever had to deal with.
Trashy People Getting Tattoos
“I spent the better part of the workday freehanding and outlining a dragon backpiece on a woman in her early twenties. She had several pieces on her back she had received from a kitchen wizard that we were covering as well so that raised the difficulty level a couple of notches. Her boyfriend and a best friend hung out, chatted, and watched movies all evening while we worked. All in all, not a bad time… until it was time to pay.
As we finished up and put the bandage on she turned to me and said, ‘So I get paid next Tuesday… is it ok if I come back then and pay you?’ I laughed because obviously, she was joking. She had to be joking. She better be joking. When I realized she wasn’t I said, ‘No, that’s not how this works. Somebody is going to pay before any of you leave.’
She turned to her boyfriend and asked, ‘You’ve got this, right?’ He laughed and said, ‘You know dang well I don’t have any money!’ She looked to her best friend who conveniently found something interesting on the ceiling so she was no help. The client then turned back to me, puffed up a bit trying to look more serious than I did, and asked ‘Well what are you going to do if we just leave? You can’t keep us here!’ I figured this was going to be her next course of action. She was right, I couldn’t detain them… it gets into a grey area near the border of kidnapping and not something I wanted to change but what I did do was point out to her that I had her release form with all of her information and a photocopy of her ID. I let her know the second they walk out the door I would contact the police and report them for ‘theft of services.’
Thinking it over for a few minutes they sat back down and she started making phone calls trying to scrape together the cash to avoid police involvement. About an hour later, a half-hour past closing, a guy shows up with a fist full of bills for me and that’s when all heck breaks loose! Her last-ditch effort it seems, was to call the guy she was cheating on her boyfriend with…
The guy throws the money on the counter and starts a screaming match with the client and the boyfriend, while the best friend just stands there yelling at everyone! Their use of adjectives was impressive. Somehow I manage to wrangle this herd of cats out the door so I can lock up the shop. By the time I got everything closed down the screaming match had turned into a fistfight in the parking lot and someone at the fast-food joint a few doors down called the cops anyway. Shop locked up, money in hand, I noped the heck out and let the cops do their thing. Thankfully I never saw any of ‘em again.”
Tone Deaf, Much?
“Not the worst but still sticks with me.
In 1995, my client had committed suicide. In the grieving process, his three surviving sisters wanted to get tattooed by me to help connect with their brother who had passed.
It was a weird day, not because of the requests or the fact that I was doing memorial tattoos, but because you could feel the tension between the family. My client’s death had prematurely brought these siblings together and somehow, spending the afternoon together in a tattoo shop, they had started to forgive each other and their underlying resentments had started to wash away.
It was really great to watch these adult children bond again.
So lastly, I tattooed a new boyfriend of one of the sisters. He wasn’t getting a memorial tattoo. He was getting a bullhead. This was the first time he had met the extended family. While I tattooed the boyfriend, the girls returned from shopping at a head shop next door.
They were showing off some shirts they bought while the boyfriend was in the chair. He saw a Nirvana shirt that the girls just purchased and said-
‘Hey! He blew his head off too!’
And I sat for 39 more minutes in complete discomfort.”
No Wonder People Treated Her That Way
“Not a tattoo artist, but this is more of the finished work of a scummy tattoo artist and ‘Hey, I actually read that language.’
Many many many years ago I had been working and traveling around many countries across Asia and since I was in Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand at the time I took a few days off to unwind. Over the next three days, I regularly saw this Danish girl at some of the beach bars. She had a large tattoo that looked fairly new going down the right side of her back and torso. The tattoo was a phrase in Punjabi rather than the typical Asian scripts of Sanskrit, Chinese, or Japanese.
You don’t see a lot of those so it really stuck out. I am originally from this area in India. I finally mustered up enough courage to speak to her and asked her what the tattoo said. According to her, it was an old hippie Sanskrit proverb about bringing peace and love to the world. She had gotten this while traveling across India. She seemed so happy relaying her Indian travel stories, the mysticism, and why she finally got her very first tattoo. I felt so bad for her knowing what it really said. The characters were written so largely I couldn’t see how she could maybe convert it into something else.
The impression I got from her was she had left India earlier than anticipated so I asked about this. Turns out the last few weeks she had been hassled by quite a lot of guys. Even the tattoo artist was gropey and seemed angry when she kept turning his advances down over multiple visits, simply wanting the tattoo to be finished. I finally told her what the tattoo said and she was mortified. Not believing me at first I Skyped a female cousin of mine in India who confirmed what I had said. The girl couldn’t stop crying. She always wore something over her bikini after that.
The tattoo actually read ‘This girl is a floozy. Use her and abuse her.’ I have no idea what happened to her afterward as I had to get back to work, but I’m presuming she had to somehow get the tattoo removed which going by the size would have been very expensive and painful. Poor girl.”
This Guy Was A Psycho!
“This was three years ago and my ex and I were the clients.
My ex already had four tattoos and wanted the Deftones white pony added to his forearm. The shop we went to is reputable and the appointment time he selected was somewhere around three in the afternoon when the artist assured him it wouldn’t be busy. We walk into the shop and he begins asking how much tattoo outlines cost vs. one fully colored in. The artist told him $80 and my ex seemed pleased, turns to me, and announces:
‘Alright! Sit down, we’re getting this done and you’re NOT backing out.’
‘Haha, very funny,’ I replied.
All of a sudden he got in my face and yelled, ‘What makes you think I’m joking? Sit in the chair NOW!’
I backed away and told him, ‘You’re joking if you think I’m getting a tattoo, let alone under these circumstances!’ The tattoo artist stood up when my ex grabbed my wrist and looked like he was going to come from around the counter to intervene or kick us out. My ex turns to the artist and said, ‘DUDE, tell her that there’s nothing to be afraid of!’
The tattoo artist glared and responded, ‘She has to want to get it done, not be forced.’ I stormed out and my ex followed me to make another attempt at getting me back inside. I was angry enough and demanded he took me home because I wasn’t wasting another minute there. As it turns out, he told me every girl he dated he took to get a tattoo and thought it would be a nice gesture. Well, we didn’t stay together after that stunt and I definitely didn’t want the ink to remind me of that day.
I’ve always wanted to go back to that shop to thank that tattoo artist for stepping in – even if it was subtle- if he still worked there.”
What An Absolute Weirdo
“So I was doing some after-hours work for trade on this dude and his wife (half-sleeves for a four-wheeler), so I’ve already got the items and can’t back out. First, sit: the guy is a total whiner – like, constantly moving and complaining, wants to take a smoke break every 15 minutes, etc.
So it’s a little unsurprising when he asks if he can take some Ativan (anti-anxiety medication) for next time… thinking that he meant like one or two pills, and having never heard of anyone abusing them before, I said sure. My mistake. Second sit: wife drops him off and then he takes like six pills… then another six pills right before we start. It’s about this time that I recommend maybe he should go a little lighter.
Nope, the dude just keeps popping pills like candy, until he’s basically a zombie. We take a break and he hobbles/shuffles to the bathroom, comes back with his pants half-off and spattered in stains. Then he goes to take more pills and drops his pill canister scattering tiny pills everywhere and I get to watch while he picks them up in slow motion, slobber-speaking, ‘I’m sorry man, please don’t hate me.’
I’m well past the point where I would have kicked any other client out, but I technically still owe him several hours and just wanted to get it over with, so for some reason, we keep going. Eventually, he passes out and after making sure he was breathing, I just lean down on his arm to keep him still and I plow on for another few hours while he drifts in and out of consciousness, asking me stuff like if I want to go to a rub ‘n tug with him after.
‘You ever been to a rub ‘n tug?’ ‘Uh, no man,’ ‘It’s a massage and they wank you off after’ ‘uh, yeah, I know,’ ‘wanna go right now?’ ‘umm, no thanks,’ ‘but it’s great man, they wank you off!’ ‘Uh, I’ll pass.’) Eventually, his wife comes by to pick him up, she’s mortified and embarrassed, apologizing profusely, etc… Yeah, they aren’t together anymore and I still tattoo her semi-regularly…”
He Was The Entitled Customer All Along!
“I had a tattoo artist that I used for ALL of my ink prior to moving. After I left I had to find a new artist if I wanted more tattoos and did so. I liked my new guy and got several tattoos from him but looked forward to going back to my original artist after I made plans to move back home. Sure enough within the month of moving back, I was interested in new work and of course to say hey to my buddy.
I didn’t plan a specific day to come see him, but the day came one sunny day in April. Like your standard pill head, I had taken an unknown amount of Xanax earlier in the day before I was scheduled to leave for a friend’s party. I was feeling so good, like an inebriated superhero, and wanted to ride around before we left, and convinced a friend to stop at the tattoo shop. My friend did not know I was immensely plastered at the time.
I get into the tattoo shop and my guy isn’t there. Um OK, I barge into this other guy’s booth and ask the tattooist, if he has seen my guy. He’s currently working on a tattoo himself and his client is very ticked off about me storming in. Naturally, the co-owner says he usually comes in at 3 (it was given or take 2:30) so we elected to wait on him and shop for other stuff nearby. 3:30 rolls around so I came back to check for him.. and the tattoo man still is nowhere in sight. My inebriated mind says it’s perfectly appropriate to harass the co-owner about sharing the tattooist’s phone number. He refuses and my belligerent self gets louder.
‘BUT HE NEEDS TO FIX MY TATTOO. IT LOOKS LIKE TRASH,’ I shout. The tattoo I was referencing really did look kinda bad at this point but I’ve also had the tattoo for 10 years so even if the work was never that great I was definitely way late in trying to get it fixed. In short, I was pretty ridiculous in my tactics to get his number. The co-owner basically says I’m not getting his phone number due to privacy but we’re welcome to keep checking back for him.
I came back one more time at 4:30. Equally as belligerent I demand to see my tattoo artist or insist that someone else call him so I at least know when he will be in. At this point, I am definitely the center of attention at the shop but didn’t realize it until my friend told me after I sobered up. Apparently, people are staring and whispering just a bit but I couldn’t be bothered to even notice.
Finally, my friend convinced me to just leave and come back another day. I remember saying ‘Yeah whatever I’m not coming back here,’ before walking out with him to go to the party.
Needless to say, I got sober very shortly after this happened and now I’m WAY too embarrassed to seek out my former tattoo guy. So yeah, I am that client.”
No Pain, No Gain
“Not an artist but I spent a lot of time in shops. This one girl came in one day to get an outline for this absolutely massive back piece (wings or something). The artist who’s doing the piece keeps telling us how hot she is, and how excited he is to do it. She comes in, and she is gorgeous. She takes her shirt completely off and unhooks her bra. The artist shoots us all this creeper grin. Then he starts the first line. This girl starts full-on SCREAMING. I’ve never heard anything like it.
Just a continuous scream the entire time the needle is touching her skin. Then every ten seconds she would decide that she had had enough, and without warning, she would try to wriggle away. Each time the guy would almost mess up his line and freak out. Cut to, she’s crying and topless on the ground with the artist screaming at her about how he’s never going to be able to finish, and if she doesn’t stop he’s kicking her out. He had barely finished a single feather. The girl promises to be better and lays down. The guy starts the needle again and is about to start when she lets out another scream. He hasn’t even touched her yet. He slowly takes off his gloves, packs up his kit, and tells the girl to get the heck out.”
Time To Get The Womping Stick
“I worked in a shop for nearly 10 years and only had to throw out a couple of people.
The dude came in with his girlfriend and 16-year-old daughter. He decides on what he wants and runs to the gas station before getting started.
While the artist was doing his thing the guy would have his girlfriend bring in his drink for him so he could take a couple of sips. He was also talking about soliciting her out after he got his tattoo because he wanted to recoup his costs. This seemed a little awkward with the teen right there but… whatever.
By the way, tattoo artists aren’t therapists and they usually aren’t degenerate hedonists who revel in your debauchery. We judge you just as much as any other stranger you may meet but don’t say anything because you’ve given us money and we want our product to look good.
So he’s working on plans to sell out his girlfriend and keeps sipping on his drink every few minutes. About halfway through he starts saying the tattoo doesn’t look right. Artist explains that that’s because it isn’t finished. He becomes more belligerent and it hits me that he isn’t just drinking soda so I tell her she can’t bring him any more drinks. The artist is ticked off now but just wants to finish the piece and the dude is getting angrier each time I remind him that he isn’t getting any more to drink while he’s in our shop.
Finally, with a half-finished tattoo, he decides to let us know he’s going to knock all our teeth in. I think he went for his drink first because he walked out into the lobby area and was looking around while I grabbed the whomping stick and helped the artist run him out and locked the door. The guy is outside yelling while the artist is on the phone with the cops. The girlfriend is saying she feels like we are kidnapping her and the teen is obviously very embarrassed and occasionally mumbling that everyone is stupid.
Explained to girlfriend that she can leave but the dude isn’t coming back in without getting his wig split so we let her out when guy had wandered around a corner. I apologized to the teen on the way out for her unfortunate home life.
The dude would occasionally call to let us know he was going to come back and shoot us all, but after a few weeks, that stopped.
And that’s my story.”
Sounds Like A Bad Gig
“I apprenticed at a tattoo shop for about two years in college. I ended up leaving (running for the hills) when I finally wised up to the fact that the owner had virtually no intention of advancing me in any way, but liked to harass me and use me to get his take-out and was using the (very lousy) shop mainly as a front to sell his homemade steroids. He once allowed me the privilege of tattooing the head of his Johnson. I actually tattooed it twice. He was satisfied with the first go and I ended up tattooing something on the shaft a little later.
I had pledged to myself when I decided I wanted to seriously pursue tattoos that I would never pass up any opportunity to practice or learn, so I agreed. It was about as awkward as you’d expect, especially because a shlong needs to be hard for you to tattoo it. The tattoo came out good, but in the end it was not worth having to stare at that creep’s dong for 20 minutes while he made awkward comments and my coworkers watched.
I’ll forever be grateful for what I did learn in my last six months there, though. They hired on an experienced older female artist who took a liking to me and ended up teaching me a lot and giving me more and more opportunities to tattoo. The bottom line was that the owner hated seeing me do actual work, and tried really hard to discourage any progress that was being made. It was a really weird and bad dynamic from the beginning, as he was a piercer, not even a tattoo artist, and would basically just force me on whatever unwilling artist he was employed at the time (they never lasted long).”
The Weird Lady With The Annoying Little Tattoos
“I used to have this client. Ugh just thinking about her makes me angry. So we had a minimum price policy at the shop I was at back then. Anything that takes 45 minutes or less is $100. She would come in ever single week and try to fit as many tiny Christian-related things as she could into that time frame. To the point where she just looked like she was covered in a bunch of fridge magnets.
Now I don’t make very much off that $100 price tag. 50 goes to the shop and close to 15 goes towards my materials for doing the tattoo. Also, this woman was just really annoying. She imagined someday we were going to be able to tie in all these completely random images into some cohesive piece. Despite the fact that she refused to do anything longer than the minimum 45-minute session. She would constantly moan in a disturbing half pain/half pleasure way whenever I tattooed her.
She was constantly asking me about my faith and I would try to dodge that since I’m an atheist. She would also try to make unrelated symbols into Christian ones somehow. A really good example of this is when she came in for an anchor tattoo. I asked her how she wanted it colored. She wanted the metal hooks on the bottom to be blue, and the cross to be orange. I asked her what she meant by the cross and she pointed to the eye, stock and shank of the anchor insisting that it was a cross. I politely explained to her that those have nothing to do with Christianity and are simply engineering design functions. She insisted that the anchor is a Christian symbol because christians were the first sailors (What?). I was already at the point where I’d been getting sick of this lady, she’d been coming in for months and generally being more trouble than she was worth every time. I did her tattoos for her anyways because of the money.
Luckily for me, it was at this time I started getting busier with good projects and clients that didn’t want to nitpick every tiny detail of their already really simple tattoos. She would call and I wouldn’t have time because she refused to do anything but walk-ins. Eventually, she started coming in to try and speak to me when I was busy with other clients. Asking me why I couldn’t just get her in between big 3 to 5-hour appointments. As if I don’t need a break to eat lunch or have a smoke. I politely explained this to her and that people who book ahead get preference since they put money down. Not only that but I and almost anyone in the industry prefer to do bigger projects rather than trying to cram as many small things as possible into a 45 minute time period. Sure we make $100 in 45 minutes, but it’s $150 per hour and when people are committing to come in for 3 to 5 hours sometimes more, that’s a lot better for me.
Eventually, I went on a trip to Thailand with my girlfriend for four months. She eventually started going to another artist in the shop who was able to fit her in. It also helped that he was born deaf so he didn’t have to listen to her Christian rambling or the weird noises she would make when getting tattooed.
I have since moved shops and have a much better deal here and a much better commission as well. She came up in conversation once when I first started at this shop. Turns out she had pulled the same sort of thing here years before and they stopped answering the phone when her name came up on call display and everyone was always too busy when she would come in.
I kinda feel bad for her. She always had the appearance of some sort of illness and she quite possibly could have had a mental illness too. The really sad thing is that for the amount of money she spent in a year, she could have had most of her body done in something big and beautiful and still religious in meaning. Instead, she’s got a bunch of lousy albeit well done small tattoos all over her.”