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Running a Business and Being an Artist

So this past weekend my mom, sister, and I went to get tattooed. For my mom and sister it was their 5th tattoo, but only the second for me. We almost ended up not doing it at all. The problem was how the tattoo shops were run. It was ďfirst come first serveĒ for small tattoos and by appointment only for custom tattoos. This sounds fine unless the shop has no system in place to determine who got there first and the person at the front desk doesnít know what the artists schedule is.

The first place we went to on Saturday only had one artist, no front desk person, and a line of around 5 people. We waited a half hour before the artist was even able to give us the paperwork to fill out and to tell us how long our wait would probably be. We decided to come back the next day right when they opened so we could be first in line and not have to wait quite so long. The artist at that shop told us that would be fine, to be there at noon, and to just take the paperwork with us for the next day.

So we show up the next day a little early and wait around outside. Finally someone comes to the door and itís the guy who works out front. He tells us the artist is all booked up with appointments and that if we come back in a few days there will be more artists and we should be able to get in with no problem. Very frustrating, but what are you going to do, if they donít have any openings they donít have any. Unfortunately I was only in town for the weekend so we had to go elsewhere.

We ended up at a place down the street that was very nice, but again had a few issues that almost lost them our business. This time we were the first ones there, actually the second but the first ones left out of frustration at waiting, so we didnít have to wait for others to finish we just had to wait for the artist to be ready. We ended up being there for 3 Ĺ hours. Each tattoo took 20-30 min, so it was the in between time that took so long. I can let go of the time he took to prepare materials, draw the design, and clean up afterward, but it got annoying that he had to keep answering the phone and talking to other customers in the shop about what they wanted and how long they would have to wait.

I understand that it can be hard to run a business and that extra help cuts into the profits, but from a customerís perspective it is very annoying to have to wait around while the only person in the shop takes care of everything. I love being around artists. They have a wonderful perspective on things and can make everyday life a little more enjoyable. But if they donít have a clue how to run a business they are only going to upset their customers and lose out on prospective repeat customers and referrals. It seems like a better idea would be to go into it as a partnership where one person runs the business and on person does the tattoos, and then add people as needed. I for example have little to no artistic ability, but I am great at customer service. I would love to own a tattoo shop, mostly because I could get work done anytime I wanted, but I would never be able to be the artist and the owner and the front desk person etc. And I donít think any one should do all that, unless they want to limit their shopís potential. Both place my family and I visited were doing well enough, but I bet they would benefit from a little more organization and forethought.

About the Author: Scott Jones organizes Tattoos by Design Zine at

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