Tattoo Artists Describe The Worst Mistake They've Ever Made While Inking A Client
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Getting a tattoo can be a sensitive and delicate procedure. You have to do significant research to make sure the studio is legit and you have to vet the artist to see if they're producing the kind of work you'd like to display on your own body. And then there's the matter of hoping your artist doesn't mess up...

Okay, let's be fair: Most vetted artists are as professional as can be so the likelihood that you'll end up with a terrible mistake on your body isn't high. But what happens when it does? Tattoo artists are only human after all.

After Redditor Sorceress683 asked the online community, "Tattoo artists, what was your worst mistake and how did the client react?" tattoo artists shared their stories.

"I think I had a heart attack..."

So I didn't mess up but I had a client scare me, I was tattooing his sister's name on him (she passed away). "Gabriela" with 1 (L) in it. Past the point of no return he asks me "there's 2 L's, right?" I think I had a heart attack, and he started laughing. He thought it was hilarious, I died a little and pretended to laugh.



I tattooed Philippines 4:13 instead of Philippians 4:13 on a girl one time. Fortunately I was able fix it though.


"The lesson here..."

A few years ago I was tattooing a client who had apparently lost a bet, his buddies were allowed to tattoo something behind his shoulder as long as it wasn't racist or offensive.

Turns out the guy drew up a design of "A Leprechaun throwing up on a book"... Sure, why not, everyone was sober and they were paying pounds upfront.

Easy work- the drawing was really simple and the shading was easier than I thought it'd be.

Turns out everyone liked it... Except the guy with the tattoo of a Leprechaun throwing up on a book. He picked at the scab, trying to get rid of it, completely took it from bad to worse.

Comes in about ten days later, demanding a refund of money HE didn't pay or the studio, not me, cover it up. Nope, management said you signed for it in your right mind and then damaged it yourself, personally I was yelled at and told NEVER tattoo anyone like that, it only works in television series or film.

Did I make a mistake? Yes and no.

The lesson here is don't get involved in other's drama when permanent body marking is involved.


"He owns a small construction/restoration company..."

I had a client who decided he wanted lettering on his forearms, sayings in Greek and Hebrew. He doesn't speak either language, but he had one of his friends double-check the spelling before he sent the references to me. Came in, we did the tattoos, pretty simple appointment.

Fast forward to a couple weeks later. I get a message from my client about the tattoo that was done in Hebrew. He owns a small construction/restoration company, and has a few Israeli guys who work for him.

Apparently, they were giving him A LOT of s*** for his Hebrew tattoo (he originally thought they were just messing with him), because it was spelled wrong. The font he had chosen off a quick google search essentially changed a couple of the letters (kinda like the difference between an "f" and a "t"), making it a completely different word. We ended up being able to fix it pretty easily and had a good laugh about it, but definitely beware when you're getting tattoos in a language you and your artist don't speak!


"I tell her to make sure..."

My ONLY spelling mistake ever was in Italian. Girl wants a phrase in Italian. She writes it down no less than 5x on a paper. I tell her to make sure it is correct, I don't speak Italian. She insists it is correct. I draw up some nice script, tattoo it with no issues, bandage, pay and she leaves. She comes back in hysterical and tells me I spelled it wrong. I hadn't thrown out the paper. I spelled it exactly how she spelled it. I asked what she wanted to do, and she decided "eh no one I know speaks Italian." That was about 15 years ago, I often wonder if she ended up getting it covered up.


"A guy came in..."

Worked as a piercer in a shop a decade ago. A guy came in and wanted "Murphy's law"...the artist freehanded a design on him, he green lit it after watching in the mirror and they did a beautiful piece with a banner saying "Murphy's law". Seemed fitting. The guy loved the fact that his one messed up tattoo was the Murphy's law one.


"On the last visit..."

I was working at a place when a guy came in for a full back piece of 3 different cars. It took like 4 visits to finish and each visit he'd look at it and say it looks awesome and then he would take off. On the last visit, they call me in to look at it to show me how awesome it turned out. Well, all the steering wheels were on the wrong side and the reason no one caught it was because the dude was looking in a mirror to check his progress so they looked correct. I'm pretty sure the guy was super chill about it when they offered a bunch of free work and they fixed it in another session.


"He picked the one he liked best..."

I had a client email me asking for a four-letter acronym. I don't do freehand script so I put the letters into a font generator and sent him back some options. He picked the one he liked best and we set an appointment date. On the day of his session, I showed him the acronym again and we chose a size. I placed the stencil and he approved it and I got started. Midway through the tattoo, I asked him what the letters stood for and he told me. My heart stopped. The letters were in the wrong order. The middle two were swapped.

I ran to the shop computer to check my email and sure enough, in his original email he'd sent me, they'd been correct. I had typed them into the font generator wrong. But to be fair, he had seen them several times since then and didn't notice my mistake. I spent the rest of the session covering them up with another design he'd had as a backup tattoo idea and I didn't charge him. But it was a good learning experience for me to always ask what initials/acronyms stand for ahead of time to make sure I get them in the right order.


"The guy was surprisingly..."

I was a receptionist at a tattoo shop. One of the artists misspelled "neighborhood" on this guy's neck. He spelled it "neigborhood," leaving out the first "H". Neighborhood was the guy's nickname. It was a pretty large, elaborate tattoo so there was no fixing it. I don't think I have ever cringed so hard in my life. The guy was surprisingly really cool about it. He did see the drawing and approved it before it was tattooed on. He ended up making the artist tattoo a "H" on his palm so if anyone gave him s*** about the misspelling he could smack that person with the missing "H."


"When we got out of segregation..."

I gave a guy a tattoo in prison of his girlfriend's name on his arm. I knew him and his girl on the street and knew it was going nowhere and insisted he change his mind. He didn't, so I made a bet with him that s*** was gonna go belly up within 6 months. When we got out of segregation and back onto the yard a few weeks passed at most and I can see him having a bad conversation on the phone. He called me over to his cell and offered me up a huge sack of commissary without a word. I didn't take it, figured he needed it more than me. Still feel like s*** to this day.


"Spelling lesson"

My ex did a large scarification on the client's abdomen. The client had brought in a piece of paper with the stylized word " preserverence".

I was invited in mid-way to see the progress and had to tap my ex on the shoulder for a spelling lesson.


Have perseverance tattooed on my side...was my first tattoo at 18 and I was almost this person. Artist caught it while we were looking at the stencil.


The release form for my tattoo artist had a giant section for anyone getting a tattoo with words or letters. The whole section stated that any misspellings were not their fault and to put the letters in order EXACTLY how you wanted them tattooed.


Not good

I was working at a shop in NYC, this very heavy set gentlemen came in and wanted a full back piece. No other tattoos. The design was very elaborate and quite good. Once it was all approved the tattoo stencil was applied, and again approved by the client. I wasn't doing the tattoo, but I was occasionally checking in on the process. Once the line work was done as shading had begun... I noticed something horrible... the stencil was applied over his rolls of skin on his lower back. I made a comment to the artist privately. He went back to tattooing, moved the skin apart at one point... and without a doubt several inches of untattooed skin.

The client never noticed. I stopped working there not too long after that, not for this reason.



Once had a client call the shop who was crying hysterically because, according to her, I had done her tattoo backwards. It took a few minutes to get her to calm down to the point where we realized she was looking at it in the mirror. She apologized and hung up.


Cover up 

Tattoo artist here. Best case I ever saw, a guy came into our shop asking about a cover up. The tattoo wasn't done at our place. He had what we call a "belly rocker". One of those lettering tattoos that arcs over the belly. Think Tommy Lee's "mayhem" tattoo. Usually gothic font, gangsta type piece.

He had beautifully executed, bold, black, old English letters across his belly that were supposed to read, "scarred for life". Whoever did the tattoo (as well as the tattooed guy) had forgotten one of the letters. An "r".

This guy came in with "scared for life" on his belly.

We showed him some cover up options, including full torso, Japanese style bodysuit stuff. Someone may have joked about doing the old proofreading trick of just putting a little red arrow and adding the missing letter.

I don't know who did the thing but never saw him again after giving cost estimates for the giant cover up.


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