Well, I don’t think that I am a Bitch…

and if you think that I am such a horrible person, why do you want a tattoo from me in the first place?

There. I have the retaliation end of that out of my system now and we can move forward.

I have been doing battle with this issue for a while. I’m not terribly sure what to do about it and/or how to explain to people without them taking it personally and attacking me. So I am going to try again to explain.

There was a time in my “career” when I was hungry. Literally. Hungry. I didn’t know where the next job was going to come from or how I was going to pay my bills. In addition to doing illustration work I was waitressing and bar-tending to make ends meet. Things were bad.

It didn’t get much better when I first started tattooing. Tattooing was not then what it is now and there would be days when no one would come into the shop or call. (I mean that likes days in a row – not just days here and there.) Being the apprentice I was bottom rung for anything that came in and if I did work I only received a small percentage of the price of the tattoo. The owner of the shop would sometimes pay me to make needles and that was often the only money I would make there that week (at this point I was still waitressing as well).

I won’t bore you with the details of the middle part – but it took a very long time before I was able to quit the bar and the subsequent day job that I had. By then I owned White Tiger and had actually had to quit the day job more because of an employee issue than because I could afford to.

I would talk to artists at other shops. Bare had told me that he was booked up for a week sometimes two ahead and I couldn’t imagine how wonderful that must be. To know each day what you were going to be working on and that there would be money at the end of the week.

Obviously I found out. As the years rolled on I went from being booked up a week or two to a month or two. Eventually it reached the point where if I wanted to – I could be booked for a year or two.

I had to do something differently. I was missing weddings and important events in my friends lives. I was missing my life.

My mother is an accountant and she tells me all the time that it is very simple economics and I need to charge more. A lot more. That would dwindle down the number of clients and I would make more money working less. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

It would if I did this for the money. I don’t. I LOVE tattooing. I am not burned out on it. I do not have physical problems which make it awful for me to tattoo. I do not hate the people that I work on (all of which are common ailments in our industry). I still love the industry and making tattoos for people.

So if I am not going to jack my prices way up and I am going to continue to love what I do… what do I do? I have chosen to limit the tattoos that I will create to things that either only I can do or things that I will love to do.

Period. That’s it. Simple.

Yes. That’s right. It’s for me. I make the tattoos that I enjoy making.

Because I can.

I do not want to be booked for two years doing names and kanji and tribal pieces and missing my life. I have artists who are newer than me and don’t have the client base yet who are willing capable and yes, would like the money as well.

So when you call me up, email me or stop in to the shop and attack me for not wanting to do your tattoo,  it does not help your cause. When you tell me I am a bitch it doesn’t make me want to work on you. When you tell me that you need or want “a TeeJay” as if I am a collectible, I do not get a warm fuzzy feeling. I actually wonder what the hell this has all become. When you try to use one of my family members to get an “in” or bypass the waiting list I wonder what you are thinking.

And when I tell you that I don’t think that I should make your tattoo because you would like it done in a style that I am BAD at and you tell me “No, that’s alright I trust you. I know that you will do a great job with it.” I want to scream. I am telling you I am BAD at what you want done. I can refer you to someone who is GOOD at what you want done. You are telling me that you trust me…. but you aren’t listening to what I am telling you.

I have these conversations every day. I get attacked. I get yelled at. I see people barely containing how pissed off they are at me. I understand you are disappointed. I understand that it wasn’t what you wanted to hear.

Please keep in mind that it isn’t what I would like to tell you either. I would love it if I could make all the tattoos that came my way. I would love it if I had more time in my day. I do wish that I was exceptionally talented in every single aspect of tattooing.

In the really real world I have to set some limits. So if that means that you wind up on the wrong side of that division and I can’t or won’t do your tattoo, please keep in mind that it isn’t personal. It isn’t a judgement on you or the tattoo that you would like. There is no reason why you shouldn’t find someone who can make your vision a reality for you. If you choose to hate me for that decision I will have to live with that as well.

So I will try to remember that you are mostly disappointed and (hopefully) don’t just hate me as a person. If you could please try to keep in mind that I am NOT trying to hurt or attack you – just to try and take care of me and my family. That would be really great.

If not, if one of us winds up pissed off at the other – than, well… we get an opportunity to practice patience, compassion and forgiveness.

In the end, it all goes the way it is supposed to go – even if that isn’t the way that we WANT for it to go.

~ by justteejay on February 9, 2011.

2 Responses to “Well, I don’t think that I am a Bitch…”

  1. I respect strong confident people who set boundaries, know their limitations, and put themselves and their families first. I find it a sign of strength and inspiration. Those are the people I want in my life; be it artists, friends or co-workers.

  2. Agreed w/ Gretchen. Also, PEOPLE! Trust TeeJay, and tattoo artists like her. Listen to their advice. They know of which they speak. This artwork (and if you are lucky enough to be tattooed by a GOOD artist, yes, it is ARTWORK) will be part of you forever. If she recommends you see someone else for a particular style, she’s spot on. If she tells you that you will regret having “LOSER” tattooed across your forehead, yeah, LISTEN TO HER! Ahem. Off my soapbox.

    Teej, I only will be tattooed by you, because going to anyone else would feel like cheating 🙂

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