Things to Know While Dating a Tattoo Artist—Five Years In
After Five Years, This Is What I Have to Say . . .
It has now been five years in and let me assure you that not much changes in the way of dating a tattoo artist. After five years together we still erupt in the same battles we had when we first started dating. Like any other couple, we fight about normal things. Money, jealousy, petty crap that should never have come to be an argument in the first place . . . but when you date someone in a field like tattooing, there are other issues that arise and make themselves known.
The biggest that I have found after five years is not something you would expect. It is not the other women, who will come in spades, believe me, and it’s not the long lonely nights, which also will come in spades. The main issue that I have with this man is the way he volunteers himself to be taken advantage of.
Someone is always looking for a free tattoo, or a twenty dollar tattoo, not taking into account the cost of supplies, or the fact that only the owner of a shop gets to take home the full amount he charges you, and even then he has to pay for rent, electric, and all the other things that make a shop run.
People who call themselves true friends to a tattoo artist typically accept the price they are given simply because a true friend knows that the artist is more than likely already cutting him the “friend discount,” but there are people, friends of friends, or even total strangers that will expect a tattoo artist to completely rape himself so they can get a tattoo for the price of a few gallons of gas.
Watching someone you love lower his price to the point of accepting what you know is too low for what they have to offer only to please a customer is enraging. You feel that they are being taken advantage of and that they should have fought to keep the price at what they know their work is worth. It will take everything in you not to shake the customer to try to make them realize the amount of work it takes to make a tattoo beautiful and vibrant, especially if the artist you are dating has real talent, as I have been so lucky to find.
But you cannot do that. You will have to sit idly by and watch as your man or woman constantly gets beaten down by customers, society, and sadly, other artists. Some customers will complain no matter what the cost of the tattoo, some even get rude. But my man, typically, stays strong and professional, and will usually work with people with good attitudes. But even then, you as their support and cheering squad will not feel that they have been done right. You will feel as if they are being taken advantage of even though they truly do have final say-so on their price, and can say no if they chose to.
You have to realize what your man or woman is doing. If he/she is a good tattoo artist, someone that is not only concerned with his/her next dollar, then his/her main goal is to make sure the customer is happy.
When Jesse prices his work he does his best to keep it as low as possible. Not because he thinks his work isn’t worth it but because, in today’s economy, people cannot afford to spend the sort of money on ink that they used to. He also enjoys (too much) the pleasure he gets when he realizes how happy he has made someone. Believe me, when someone cries tears of joy over the work that your significant other just did for them, whether it was a memorial or whatever, you will understand why the good artists are willing to haggle a little bit, and it will fill you with pride in your lover.
But even when he is almost cutting his own throat, there are still people who want to cut him down further. When I see this, my blood boils. Let me go back to the very old saying, “A good tattoo isn't cheap and a cheap tattoo isn't good."
A good artist that is more concerned with your ink than he is his next dollar is a good artist indeed, and instead of taking advantage of that, respect it. Twenty is not acceptable for any tattoo, no matter how small simply due to the cost of supplies. So if you want a tattoo for twenty bucks go to your buddy’s basement and get one, and when you want it fixed come to my man, pay a real price, and have a real tattoo.
Now that that is out of my system, there were a lot of comments on my last article that involved infidelity and a lot of trust issues.
One of the issues that I read was one about a male tattoo artist in a committed relationship that was tattooing another female for free, as a way to “advertise” his work. This is something that I would appreciate comments on.
My opinion was posted clearly in my comment responding to the post, and I will add it here as well. I am not okay with my boyfriend tattooing another female free of cost for any reason other than a close friend or family member’s birthday, holiday, etc.
Even if the man does not feel any sexual attraction to the aforementioned woman, it will still raise too many issues. As a woman, I am going to tell you that if a woman tells you, “No baby, that wouldn’t make me think the worst thoughts ever and I wouldn’t immediately jump to the worst conclusions,” is lying.
My first thought, instantly, was "What did this woman offer him that he was willing to tat her for free when I’m right here ready, willing, and wanting him to put his work on me. Why can’t I advertise for him just as well as she can?"
It was my first thought, and I am telling you, artists, it will be your significant other’s first thoughts as well, no matter how stable a relationship you have.
Even if you truly think of this person solely as a human billboard, or you simply don’t want your love to be covered in ink, you need to take the time to talk about it with them clearly and calmly, and expect that you may need to find a human billboard of the same sex.
I know that most tattoo artists are men; in fact, there is a great shortage in female artists that are truly worth their salt. However, for the men who date female artists, don’t constantly be accusing them of flirting, or cheating with their male co-workers.
I want to address this clearly because I have seen it happen over and over. Men seem to be worse at accepting the terms of dating a tattoo artist than any female I have seen.
Somewhere along the line, men got it into their heads that a woman cannot be hit on without having her big man around to protect her. Men assume that if a man is good-looking and starts coming on to a woman, that the little woman is just not going to be able to resist temptation. Since a tattoo shop consists of mostly men, a sole female in the mix becomes the center of attention, which tends to drive any sort of relationship into the ground.
So to the men who want to date a female artist: Grow a pair, please. Realize that yes, she is going to be hit on just as much as, and sometimes more than, her male counterparts. It does not mean that she is going to be falling for the rugged artist in the next booth, or for one of her clients.
And yes, this does apply to women as well, jealous bitches that we can be, but I wanted to significantly address the fact that I have watched many women who had talent quit this profession to keep a man that wouldn’t support her in it.
If you don’t agree with my opinions on the relationship with someone in this field, please feel free to comment and call me out on it. Tell me your story. But you will not be able to deny that both articles, whether you laughed or took them seriously, have good points.
Being with a tattoo artist can be very lonely, enraging, and may feel like a never ending road of what-ifs, whys, and whatevers.
The road is not an easy one, in fact, it’s harder than most. I have trust that my man is not in his tattoo chair humping some young thing into oblivion. I know when he comes home at 3 am and tells me his back hurts from tattooing that he is telling the truth. I am sure that when I call him and he doesn’t call me back for five hours it’s because his hands are gloved and on someone’s skin, and he cannot use a phone.
If you cannot handle not knowing when you will talk to them or see them next, when they will come home, if they will be there for dinner, or watch “your show” at 9 o’clock, then you should probably move on.
It took me five years. It took five years of fighting at 3 am every time he wasn’t home. It took me crying every time I cooked for hours and no one ate it, and it took many fights over phone calls not returned for us to get to where we are.
Break ups are high in this field because no one does the work for it. As soon as it gets hard, people run. It’s the same in relationships in every way; divorce rates are up for the same reason. People do not believe in “for life” anymore, no one believes in commitment. As soon as the puppy phase is over, and fighting starts people turn and run. We chose to fight for what we knew we had. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and sometimes my understanding is lacking and we fight over something I know we shouldn’t be fighting over, but hey, I’m human and I am still a jealous bitch. :)
But we get over it, we make up, and when it really comes down to it, we know we can trust each other.
Every day I struggle with the issues his job brings, with biting my tongue over ungrateful customers, and with believing stories that would seem ludicrous if it was anyone but him telling them.
Not everyone can live the life I live, and not everyone can handle the style of relationship that a tattoo artist brings to the table. If it breaks you down, get out. If it makes you feel low, run. But if you’re running simply because you don’t believe he was tattooing a fat guy named John at two in the morning, you’re probably running on false fuel.