Anyone who’s tattooed or been tattooed knows the experience is painful. To what degree depends on both personal pain tolerance and of course tattoo placement.
So before you grab the machine and get to work on customer’s skin, how do you make them feel comfortable?
Ease Their Expectations
If your customer has no prior tattoos and requests a design on a more tender area, a reputable tattoo artist should always advise first on the pain level, to better inform their customer of the potential experience.
You may instead suggest a first tattoo in a less painful spot.
Once your customer knows and understands that you’re preparing them for pain management, they’ll feel much more at ease, even if they go for the gusto and opt for a foot tattoo despite your fair warning.
Making Small Talk
When you’re tattooing, are you talking, listening to music, or shooting the conversation with the other guys in the shop?
It really helps if you can learn to read people and better understand their needs.
Some customers love to talk as a means of distraction from the process while others like to zone out and find constant babble annoying.
If you don’t have the intuitive ability to read your customers and analyze their communication needs, you’d be better off helping them find comfort in an uncomfortable situation by straight up asking them if they prefer silence or conversation.
Then you’ll have to remember to listen to understand, rather than to reply.
So many people engage in conversations merely to hear themselves talk and it can be very easy to get on a soapbox.
You should use this time to listen to your client’s stories and get to know a little about them. First it will help add potential value to the tattoo as you become more focused on their individuality, second it will help those seeking comfort during a hardship or memorial tattoo experience.
I don’t mean smoke breaks; although your customer may request one. Whether it is using the restroom, grabbing a phone call, or stepping outside for a breather, your customer may request you stop for just a few moments.
This can tighten up your schedule, so make sure you factor in any of these situations while booking your appointments that way you won’t run late with your next guest, yet can still provide the time out your client may need.
Explain the Steps
Some people like to watch and see what’s going on, and that could very well be their means of making an uncomfortable situation bearable.
If she’s asking lots of nervous questions, or you find him turning his head to see where your hands move to next, you may just want to start explaining the process, sort of like a dentist before he goes in with the drill.
Have you ever noticed how calm, thorough and reassuring dentists can be? There’s a reason for that. They need YOU to be still, so they let you know exactly what’s coming.
Ask How She's Doing
Last, be friendly. You shouldn’t really enjoy inflicting this artful pain on people, after all.
It’s wise to ask your customer throughout the process how they are doing. They may lie, toughen up and say things are all good, or they’ll be honest and explain they just can’t take it.
From there you can take a break, explain the steps, or reschedule the session for a later date.
Not everyone is going to take to the pain easily, but once they understand that YOU, their tattoo artist, has a genuine care and concern for their comfort they’ll be BACK…because oddly enough, pain becomes pleasurable.
(Especially when you wear that twisted smile.)