It’s the one thing that makes people hesitate to get a tattoo. The fear that the tattooist won’t be able to translate the vision they (you) have for a tattoo, and worse – screws up the design altogether. It’s a fair concern. After all, the work of body art will be with you for life. No one wants to walk around with a mistake inked into their skin. So what should you do when a tattoo artist messes up? To answer the question we must address timing. The problem may be occurring right before your very eyes while sitting in their chair, or after the fact. In both less-than-ideal cases there is something that can be done. Let’s review.
How to React When a Tattooist Is Screwing Up (or has already screwed up) Your Tattoo and How to Proceed
When it’s Happening
The worst thing you can do is sit quietly while the tattooist is perceivably messing up the design you agreed upon. There may still be time to take corrective action. That said, we say “perceivably” because you may think that they’re messing up when in reality what you’re witnessing could simply be a part of the process. For instance, it may appear as if they are using the wrong color, when it fact you may not realize what they ink tone initially looks like upon application versus when it dries and heals.
Whatever the case may be, when in doubt – speak up! Don’t be concerned about being a pest. This is your tattoo, not theirs. If at any point you think something is wrong you are responsible to speak up and the tattooist is responsible to respond, make adjustments, and/or explain what you’re witnessing. Communication is everything between a client and artist – that communication must occur before, during, and after the tattoo.
When it Already Happened
What if you don’t realize the tattooist messed up the design until you’ve stepped up to the mirror from your chair? You must still say something, no matter how uncomfortable it may make the situation. Again, your concern could simply be about color and tone, at which point the artist may be able to explain that what you’re seeing won’t persist upon healing. In having that discussion, you won’t go home angry. Alternatively, if the artist did make an error and they cop to it, you can reschedule an appointment to correct the tattoo once it has healed. They will give you priority so that you can get into see them as soon as viable. If you don’t want to use the same tattooist, that discussion will need to be had with tattoo shop management so that they can rectify the situation. If the issue is clearly due to negligence, you will likely get a refund and be welcomed back for correction at a later date. It’s better to leave with a cool head and corrective plan of action instead of storming out to leave a bad Google/Yelp review.
In a situation where you have not been able to rectify the problem with the tattooist and shop in a satisfactory (to you) manner, you will need to seek out a studio that specializes in laser tattoo removal. Under the careful care of a tattoo removal expert you can undergo a procedure to fade and cover-up the tattoo with the design you really wanted. Or you can have it removed altogether and be done with it. There is absolutely a solution to this unfortunate circumstance.
To Make Sure it Doesn’t Happen Again
Once this unfortunate situation is in your rearview, we encourage you to get back on the horse and get tattooed again. 99.99% of the time it’s a great experience. That is, when you’ve properly researched which are the best tattoo shops and artists in your area. View our guide for how to choose a tattoo studio, and how to choose a tattoo artist.