I don't know where to begin with this, so I'll start from where my mind started to lose itself.
I'm sat in a car park having just left the gym, I can't control my tears and I fear that I'm losing my mind, again. I can hear myself repeating the words I say over and over. "I'm sorry, I'm just finding things hard at the moment". I've lost myself for what feels like the 112th time in the last 2.5 years.
I started tattooing in October 2015, if we are getting technical, I became a "full time" artist in September 2016 which was when I was allowed to call myself a tattoo artist and not an apprentice. Although one could argue that we never stop being apprentices (thanks for that one Az).
From the moment I wanted to tattoo, I have worked hard for it, I have given my life for it you could say. My relationships in all aspects of the word have suffered. My financial situation became less ideal. The order of my life went into a chaotic downward spiral. Everything became a mountain, and some (if not many) questioned if I had the mental stability to do this job. And they were right to question it, being a tattoo artist isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's fucking hard.
But then i ask myself; do i love my job? And there is always just one answer. "I do". At the expense of everything, i wouldn't change a thing. Not one single thing. I am married to tattooing and I'm not ashamed of that. This job, despite it's downfalls can be the most rewarding job you'll ever have. But fuck me, sometimes I cannot handle the weight of everything at once. I am not a top artist, I am just a regular Jane trying to make a living. But top or not, we all suffer the same plight at the hands of tattooing, at one point or another.
The above isn't supposed to be self indulgent, this is just my story. Every artist found their own way in tattooing. Some may have found it easy. For those that did, you are so much stronger than me.
Please don't take this as a passive aggressive "fuck you", because it isn't. The world is more aware than ever that humans suffer from mental instability from time to time.
This post, if anything, is to give a small insight into the mind of your artist. Not all artists of course, I'm sure there are many out there that will lovingly tell me to tuck my vagina in and get on with it; but whilst I'm adsorbed by self doubt, I will continue to let these words flow through my fingers.
To be frank, please be kinder to your tattoo artist. Those who care about what they do, put so much of themselves into making sure that the piece of art that you wear for the remainder of your life, is not only the best they can give you, but is an interpretation of your vision. Artists who care, will do their best for you always. Or at least, that's what I've been taught.
With all that said, please remember that your artist is also talking to several people at once, making sure they have taken in all the information you've given them whilst trying to establish in their own mind if your vision can be put onto paper as well as your skin.
From that first email, to the moment you leave the studio (and quite often thereafter) we are committed to the service we are providing.
Please remember, many of us tattoo several people in a week (me personally, anything between 12-14 most weeks), and when we aren't tattooing we are drawing for those appointments ahead (quite often I'm never ahead and finishing drawings at 5am on the morning of). When we aren't drawing or tattooing, we are answering emails to ensure we have enough work in our diaries to make ends meat. When we aren't doing any of that we are looking at new ideas on how to improve what we are already doing. And then suddenly we have a cancellation (fuck) and we go into overdrive either drawing or posting to fill the space. And then, just maybe, if we get a spare moment, we try to spend time with those we love the most, our spouses, families, friends, or doing simple things like getting groceries, just living, like everyone else. And believe me, those who are most important, often get neglected. And we know it too, we are so aware of that fact.
If tattooing were a supermarket, it would have set hours. You wouldn't turn up at 1am because you wanted a loaf of bread and then get angry because the doors were locked.
In our wildest dreams tattooing would be a supermarket.
Please be a little kinder to us. We try our upmost to get back to you as soon as we can, but sometimes it's just not possible. Our minds need a few moments away from our job, if only for a few short hours to reset, and sometimes that isn't a privilege we get granted too often.
Before you send those notorious "???", please take a moment to think. You have no idea how many of these sorts of messages we receive and it has to be the most irritating message of all.
Whilst we are acknowledging how to send messages; if your artists asks for enquiries via email, then please don't then DM, facebook message, find their phone number, harass them via the shop or turn up at their house. Most artists will have already made it explicitly clear on how to contact them, and the internet is a wealth of information on how to approach them. And the reason we ask that you contact us via one means of contact is we simply cannot keep up with the number of social media platforms there are now. That and we are desperately trying to keep work and our personal lives slightly separate.
Please be patient with us. We will get back to you eventually. You will see your design. I don't know about all artists, but with the exception of a few times, I've always sent a design the day before an appointment, without fail. But don't be surprised if your artist shows you the design on the morning of the appointment either. Please don't chase us, sending multiple messages, we are only one person. Chances are we are referencing your design the day before your appointment, spending hours sketching, working on composition, researching, studying colour theory, the list goes on and on. Please be patient, for our own minds sake.
Hours have now passed, I feel a little better knowing that I've written some of how I feel. There isn't one reason for why my mind is suffering, its lots of them. It isn't one person. Or one particular event that broke me today. It's just sometimes, it gets a little too much. Despite how much I love this job, it wasn't very kind to me today.
But negatives aside, I need to tell you why I love my job. Why most artists love their job. It's the art. It's expression. It's people (despite the above, believe me it's true). It's connection. It's trust. It's social. It's fun.
The good, always outweighs the bad. I am lucky to have had so many kind people walk into the studio to be tattooed by me. To have put their trust in me when I was learning and to proudly show off their tattoos to this day. Being a tattoo artist is a privilege earned, but it also a privilege to have humans who want to be tattooed by you. To have your artwork on their bodies forever. I will always respect that, all I ask is that you give your artist equal respect when asking for a tattoo. We will give you the best of ourselves, just be kind to us.
How to be tattooed; the right way
What your artist doesn't want you to do (no really)