As a tattoo artist, your work is a lifetime calling card that when well conceived and executed can bring you accolades, recognition and most importantly, more business. While some would argue that having a particularly recognizable style is what separates the all stars of the tattoo world from the working stiffs, the reality is that the stylized visions of a specific artist belong to only the artist, not the public at large. That's not to say that every artist should be out to please everyone, simply that being able to reproduce accurately is as integral a part of being a successful tattoo artist as any level of creativity.
After all, the customer will ultimately decide what he or she wants to live with and it is your job to make it happen. Being able to deliver with the gun isn't where the responsibility ends, however. No matter how skilled the artist or how striking the design, a tattoo that is devoid of aftercare won't be a pleasing sight for long. For those who want clients to be satisfied with their work, below are some tips on improving the aftercare process. Tip #1. First, ask questions.
All too often, artists take it for granted that the client will volunteer information about their knowledge of tattoos and many times erroneously assume that they know more than they do. Clients getting their first tattoo or those who haven't been tattooed in a long time likely need to have the importance of aftercare stressed to them prior to the work being done. Unless a client is a regular, tip #2 should be mandatory. Tip #2. Stress the importance of aftercare. Most people will take aftercare more seriously if the artist working on them makes a point of stressing the importance of it.
Of course, you can't follow them home, but you can make it clear that aftercare is essential if they want the tattoo to stay vivid and avoid the loss of color. Artists should also make sure their clients understand the importance of aftercare from a health perspective as well. Tip #3.
Give written instructions. This shouldn't even need to be mentioned, but believe it or not, there are still some shops and artists out there who don't offer an aftercare sheet with detailed instructions and contact numbers in case of an emergency. Not only are you opening yourself and your business up to liability (and no, that waiver they signed may not exclude you from it), you are failing to provide aftercare instruction in a format they can refer to later. Aftercare isn't the most complicated thing in the world, but it still deserves written instruction.
Tip #4. Provide options on aftercare products or sell them yourself. It seems every artist on the planet has a preferred ointment or lotion and many insist that their customers use only what they recommend. The problem with this approach is twofold. First, there are multiple products that offer effective aftercare and second, not all products are available to everyone.
If there are specific products or ingredients you feel should be avoided, state it clearly. Likewise, offer alternatives for when your clients are unable to locate your first recommendation, or offer them at your business and keep them in stock. The rational is simple.
If you only give customers one choice and they can't find it, which happens often, they are still better off with your second choice than listening to a drug store clerk or friend who was last tattooed in 1983. Tip #5. Offer a follow up visit.
Most artists will tell a client that if they have any problems, they can call or come in. Unfortunately, few actually suggest that their clients come in after a few days (post ointment) so that they can check the tattoo over. With some clients who are from out of town or live far away, it's inconvenient or impossible.
Other's, however, can benefit from an expert's eye. Visits such as these don't need to be scheduled, nor should they take more than a minute or two. Setting aside an hour a week to allow clients to come back in to be checked out can be accomplished while cleaning or restocking, and more importantly, lets your clients know that you are proud enough of your work to want to make sure they are caring for it properly.
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