One of my favorite things about running a tattoo shop is the observations I’m able to make while at work. As someone who has always been fascinated by the practice, who has reveled in the history of the practice and made a career out of writing about it, I enjoy seeing the trends, the habits, and the clients on a first-hand, up-close basis.
Running the front-end of the business allows me to have closer interaction with the clients as they come in. I get to talk about their intended piece with them, find out if it holds any meaning. I am able to meet their friends and family as they pop in to see the work in progress or offer moral support. I have the chance to chat with any children or spouses as the process goes underway.
Overall, I get to observe the relationships and interactions each client has with those around them.
One thing I have noticed during my career is that there are two different forms of clients—the type that brings companions and the type who avoids contact throughout the ordeal.
There are many reasons why someone would bring a friend/loved one to a tattoo appointment with them. We’ve heard them all. In some cases, those who are coming to get their first tattoo are nervous about being in a tattoo shop alone. Others are worried about how the tattoo will feel. In some cases, particularly those where the person has been inked previously, bring someone for conversation so that they can keep their mind off the process and focuses on the banter with their friend.
Others are looking to simply pass the time and want company in the process.
Either way, whether they know it or not, the tattoo shop friend is a form of moral support. They are a way to get through the feelings, the pain, of getting the tattoo. They are a reason to remain strong, to not cry out or squirm or cuss out the artist. They are a means of distraction, a form of entertainment.
Sometimes they are a mother, a daughter, or a sister. Sometimes they are a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife. Other times, they are the best friend or a co-worker.
We’ve seen every form of tattoo shop friend imaginable. And, they’re great. We love to see you sharing your experience. We love to see you preparing for the process, understanding how to get through the ordeal without too much uncomfortableness.
We get it.
Bringing a friend to your tattoo appointment can be a great idea, and is widely accepted. However, there is something you need to consider before selecting a tattoo shop friend. Don’t bring someone who is going to critique you, make you feel guilty, or second-guess your design. Don’t bring anyone who you think might not understand boundaries and get in the way of the artist. It’s your day… your ink.
Just remember that.