What kind of tattooed person are you: collector or loyal client?
What kind of tattooed person are you: collector or loyal client? A tattoo collector is generally someone who seeks out many different styles of tattoos and so ultimately seeks out different artists who do those styles well. A loyal client is someone who just refuses to get tattooed by anyone but “their” tattoo artist. Whichever you choose to be, is your choice. Your skin belongs to ONLY YOU! You decide what to put on it and you decide who puts it on you.
There are a lot of egos in the tattoo world. Old school attitude would tell you not to dare “cheat” on your tattoo artist. However, the industry has changed a lot and there is so much talent out there now. There are celebrity tattoo artists with huge followings and wait lists and there are a lot of unknown up and comers who do work just as great! Ultimately, the decision to be loyal or collect is really up to how you view the art form.
Artists and clients can form tight bonds. Hours are spent in the chair together, getting to know one another and inking your skin forever. You share life stories and build a friendship. It’s an intimate process. If you find an artist you connect with, it’s easy to feel like it would be cheating to let someone else mark your skin.
Most established and professional tattoo artists won’t be offended if you decide to get a tattoo by another artist. In some shops, it’s even encouraged! At our studio, Zulu Tattoo, our artists work as a team. If one of our clients are talking about their next tattoo and it’s something that another artist in the studio does better than they do, they will refer that client to another artist. Ultimately, it’s about finding an artist with the integrity to let you know that there might be someone else who excels at whatever style you are looking for more than they do. The reality is that there are plenty of clients out there for everyone.
If you do become a collector, be respectful. If an artist starts a piece, it’s best to let that artist finish it! Each artist has their own style or vision. If a piece is started by one artist and then brought to another, it puts that second artist in a compromising position. They don’t have a clean start and might have to compromise their own artistic vision to complete the task, thus not giving you their absolute best work. There are some exceptions to this, however. If the piece was partly done and not to your satisfaction, then it might make sense to seek out another artist. Just be mindful and respectful of what you are asking someone to do and of the feelings of all those involved.
In the end, you could find yourself falling into one or both of these categories. Your skin is YOURS and you will be the one who has to live with and admire each tattoo that you put on it. So, find someone who you trust, connect with and who can ultimately help you realize your artistic vision for the art you put on your body. The process should be an overall positive one!