Being tattooed is a vulnerable experience with an inherent amount of trust needed between artist and client. The industry has a long and intolerable history of people (primarily men) breaking that trust, and although we’ve come a long way in creating safer spaces and ejecting problematic people, there will always be a risk of exploitation within the client/artist relationship.
An important part of protecting yourself (and others) from abuse and harassment in the tattoo environment is understanding what is and what is not necessary during the tattoo process.
It is normal for your artist:
- To ask you to remove clothing and jewelry directly around the area that will be tattooed.
- To touch the skin around the area that will be tattooed.
- To lean or support themselves on you within reason (ie: resting their forearm against you).
- To ask you to change positions in order to better reach the area being tattooed.
- To ask to take photos of your new tattoo during the procedure and/or when it's done.
- To let you know what will and won't work with your tattoo design (including minimum size and placement).
- To make pleasant conversation and get to know you.
It is NEVER acceptable for your artist:
- To watch you undress or ask you to remove clothing that is not near the tattoo area. (Coverings are always an option and can be made from paper drapes, tape, stickers, etc. where clothes might be in the way.)
- To touch your body anywhere that is not directly around the area being tattooed.
- To lean or support themselves on you in a way that does not assist with the tattoo (ie: resting their hip against you).
- To have you positioned in a way that is exposing or uncomfortable.
- To take photos that do not pertain to the tattoo or that you have not agreed to.
- To pressure you to accept a tattoo that you do not like, refuse reasonable changes, or place the tattoo someone other than where you agreed.
- To flirt, make inappropriate comments, or ask invasive questions.
- To ask you to do anything with no clear reason.
(Note: Chaperones are a great safety net, but many shops' policies changed over Covid and may not allow additional people in the shop. Consider having a friend on voice or video call, or text them during your appointment. You never have to be unsupported.)
- I have the right to a safe and clean procedure.
- I have the right to a private area to change my clothing.
- I have the right to breaks when I need them.
- I have the right to a clean bathroom.
- I have the right to ask questions and have them answered.
- I have the right not to be touched in any way that I do not approve.
- I have the right to modesty at my discretion.
- I have the right to refuse photography, or the public sharing of my photo.
- I have the right to have my chosen name and pronouns respected.
- I have the right to freedom from harassment, discrimination, erasure, and intolerance.
- I have the right to end my appointment early and leave for any reason.
Only the beginning...
Together, we can build and uphold better standards to ensure that tattoo shops are safe places for everyone. But the things discussed in this article are your BASIC RIGHTS and the bar upon which we can build a stronger industry.
Through my mission and values, I strive to redefine the standards of service and care in the tattoo industry, offering not only beautiful tattoos, but also exceptional experiences.
I discussed these new standards of care in an interview over at The Body and Bliss Podcast:
Episode 155: The Art of Respectful Tattooing
What if getting a tattoo was more then an exercise in pain tolerance, but an empowering experience steeped in respect, care, and deep connection?
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