Today’s question is a very subjective one, but a common one nonetheless. When a recently (within the last couple of years) inked person is ready for another tattoo, they sometimes wonder if there is some unwritten obligation to return to the same artist. There certainly isn’t, and you should do exactly what you feel most comfortable with. That said, you asked, so we’re here to help provide insight. Below is a breakdown of some things to consider.
4 Questions to Ask Yourself When Deciding Whether or Not to Return to the Same Artist for Your Next Tattoo
I. Are You Happy with the Last Tattoo They Did?
This may seem like an obvious determining factor, but there’s more to consider. For starters, if you are indeed happy with the last tattoo they did for you, then you certainly have a strong case for returning to them. However, if you’re not happy with the design – why is that the case? Did they not do a good job OR was the design they were provided poor to begin with? Do you feel as if you adequately communicated to them what you wanted? While they are talented artists, they are not mind-readers, so the onus does land on the person getting tattooed to fully communicate exactly what they want – if the artist creates that sort of atmosphere (more on that below). If they encouraged communication, but you were not comfortable the first time around, you’ve now established a rapport. In this case you will feel more welcome to be more specific in your desires. Lastly, if the quality (shading, lines, etc.) of the tattoo lacking, consider whether or not you followed their aftercare advice to the tee. If not, the fault may not be with the artist after all.
Self-reflection is important when it comes to this determining question. If you feel that you did do all that you could do and are still not happy with their work, then absolutely find another tattooist.
II. Were You Encouraged to Ask Questions and Express Concerns?
A client should always be encouraged to pose questions and express any concerns that they may have. You’re getting permanent art on your body – it’s insane for any tattooist to not make you feel comfortable to do so. Unfortunately, some tattoo shops/studios have created a culture that infers that “the tattooist is always right” which is the wrong way to do business. Some of the public has bought into this. If you’re among them, you may have accepted that this is just the way it is. As a result, you may return to the same artist even though you didn’t feel as if they were patient with your initial queries/concerns regarding your tattoo design. You should never feel this way. If that was the case, by all means find a new tattooist. Aside from the requisite pain and some physical discomfort, getting a tattoo should be a pleasant experience!
III. Did They Clearly Follow Health & Safety Protocols?
Health and safety have always been a top priority in the professional tattoo industry, but the last couple of years has ramped up requirements. In Greater Vancouver BC a tattoo artist must abide by and maintain safety standards laid out through HealthLink BC. In Toronto ON there are detailed guidelines in place for how an artist must address infection prevention and control. If at any point during your most recent session you felt as if the artist’s station was unclean, or they did not appear to follow protocols in any way, you have cause to go elsewhere.
IV. Were They Helpful with Followup?
Getting a tattoo is a life altering experience for many people. It can be an important right of passage and mark a major milestone in one’s life. At the very least, the act of getting tattooed is an intimate exchange between a client and artist. So how did they treat you after the tattoo was completed? Did it feel as if it was a “one and done” experience for them? Did you feel as if you were just another slab on the assembly line? Did you feel as if you were on the walk of shame after leaving the studio? If so, we assume it’s because the artist did little in the way of providing insightful aftercare advice, nor did they encourage you to come in for a checkup to make sure your ink was healing properly. If you felt no “bond” with the artist, it’s most likely because they made little effort to build a connection via followup. If this is the case, then you certainly don’t have to feel guilty about seeing another artist next time – even if their station is in the very same shop. Perhaps they’ll learn from it.
Is it time to see another artist for your next tattoo? If located in Vancouver or Toronto we encourage you to review our tattooist profiles and book your consultation accordingly. If you have any questions whatsoever, feel free to ask. We’re here for YOU.