Consent and Client Rights

What is Normal?

An important part of protecting clients from abuse and harassment is providing information on what is and 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. 
  • 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, or place it 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' Covid policies do not allow additional people in the shop at this time. Consider having a friend on voice or video call, or text them during your appointment. You never have to be unsupported.)


Consent

 

In tattooing, consent is an ongoing, voluntary, and informed agreement to participate in the tattoo procedure. Consent is required by both artist and client for the tattoo to continue. Consent can be revoked at any time, for any number of reasons. Coercion or pressure to comply voids consent; neither party can force the other to continue with the tattoo.    

 

Focus on: Communication, Collaboration, and Choice 

 

Communication:

Artists and clients have a duty to provide all information necessary to make informed decisions about the tattoo. This could look like;

  • The artist/shop providing information on their website.  
  • The artist explaining the tattoo process and pausing for questions. 
  • The artist letting the client know how to ask for a break, like creating a hand signal. 
  • The client disclosing medical details that could impact their ability to heal the tattoo safely. 

 

Collaboration:

Although the artist is providing a service and must be a good leader to provide a safe and successful tattoo, the client's participation in decision making is needed. This could look like;

  • The client expressing their preferences and styles they are interested in either verbally or through a form they fill out. 
  • The artist asking the client their opinion on tattoo stencil size and placement, and having them look in the mirror before starting. 

 

Choice:

The ability to make choices is critical to ongoing consent. This could look like;

  • The artist providing modesty options for the client (private changing area, room dividers, covering, etc). 
  • The artist checking in with the client to see how they are doing and if they need a break or water. 
  • The artist and the client being able to stop the tattoo at anytime if they require a break, feel unsafe, are in too much pain, are uncomfortable, or for any reason they see fit.   

Client Bill of Rights

As a client, you always have the right to: 

  • A safe and clean procedure. 
  • A private area to change your clothing. 
  • Breaks when you need them. 
  • A clean bathroom. 
  • Ask questions and have them answered. 
  • Not be touched in anyway that you do not approve. 
  • Modesty at your discretion (only the area around your tattoo needs to be exposed, and only to your artist.) 
  • Refuse photography, or public sharing of your photo. 
  • Have your chosen name and pronouns respected.  
  • Freedom from harassment, discrimination, erasure, and intolerance. 

This document will continue to evolve. If you have questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you. Additional resources: Change tattooing.