Tattoo Artists Share Their Craziest 'Yeah, That's A Hard No' Career Experiences
Image by ilovetattoos from Pixabay

I've been waffling for years as to whether I should get some body art. I keep chickening out. Getting inked isn't for everyone. And I still have night terrors from the time I held a friend's hand as she shook through a six-hour sit down for a massive thigh portrait. So much blood. Yuck. But I do have a few artistic ideas...

Redditor u/Paintingrefinish wanted to hear from the tat community about the times they had to weigh art over conscience by asking... Tattoo Artists of Reddit What was the most "Hard NO" moment of your career?

I've seen too many friends have to do cover up art. The older you get the more you realize... how stupid young you was. And now that pot leaf has to be turned into shamrock or a rose, because what do you tell your kids? That's why it's good to know that there are tattoo artists out there with a conscience, and a brain to think for you when your's malfunctions.

Bad Idea

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18 year old girl wanted her considerably older bf's name just above her vagina for her first tattoo. Hard no, and had to explain why it wasn't a good decision.


That's a Limp Idea...

I was asked to put a full-fledged erect penis on someone's back, right above his butt crack. Veins and all. I would have considered it but there was some heavy breathing involved and... yeah, no, I do not want to spend hours and hours lovingly doing that, thanks very much.


Think Ahead!

I had a conversation with my tattoo artist about this. He said he wouldn't do any "instant tough guy" tattoos, mainly face, neck or hand tattoos, unless the person already had a good deal of coverage on other parts of their body.


Had an artist make an exception for my wife and I. Our wedding rings are tattooed on and (at the time) it was our only ink. He had the same rules generally, but was super nice and made an exception for that reason.


Not for Cash

My dad was a tattoo artist in the 80's/90's he was REALLY passionate about doing good artwork, especially mythological creatures (dragons & pegasus were both specialties of his) he refused to do partners names, when we needed cash he would do a bit of work in a bigger shop where he would have to basically ink whatever the customer wanted, he used to affectionately call it "wh*ring himself out."


Bless You

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Severed Jesus Christ head on the butt cheek.


I don't know if I'm allowed to laugh as a Christian.


Seriously... what are people thinking? This ink is for LIFE. There is no body white out or eraser. Thank the Lord for the people willing to... just say no.

People Break Down The Best Loophole They've Ever Exploited

The Sting

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I asked a scorpion in my hand, when I was 19. Had a hard no from tattoo artist. I thank him forever!


No Removals

It's not the whole shops policy, but my friend won't do names unless it's their children. They could have it tattooed over, but they'd still forever know what's underneath it. And the shop doesn't do removals.


This is a good policy. The guy who taught me to tattoo would refuse to do names unless it was of children's or parent's.

When he was planning to move to another country, he decided to not turn down any work as he needed as much money as he could make in a few months.

A young guy got his girlfriend's name tattooed on his arm, despite being warned not to and advised to think about it, he insisted so, that's what he got.

Three weeks later he wanted a cover up. It wasn't even healed yet. Six large black Olde English letters running down his forearm.

The only suggestion he was given was to find another girl called Nadine.


Bobby & Becky!

Story time!

I was in the shop shooting the crap and looking through the books, while my buddy was in the chair getting some new ink. Young couple walks in.

They're maybe 19-20 years old and pawing each other to the point that I thought they were going to fall down and have sex right there on the floor.

Girl says "We need matching Bobby and Becky Forever tattoos with hearts and flowers!"

Artist (also a friend) doesn't even look up "No, go away. You been together what? One month? Two? Come back in five years"

The girl argued for about a minute and then they left

Artist "I hate doing coverups of my own work".


Keep the $60

I wanted a tattoo on my finger back when those were popular. Went in for a consult, front desk quoted me $60. I get to my appointment, my artist looks me in the eye and told me no way in hell would he tattoo my hand, he would do an arm or I could go elsewhere. I agreed and said he was the expert and I'd do what he thought was best. He still honored the $60. I wish I remembered literally anything about him (that was a messed up year for me in general and my memories are fuzzy at best) so I could thank him, because he was right.


No Hate Here!


My dad owned a tattoo shop despite not being an artist (his buddy was and my dad basically provided funding while his buddy ran the shop in the partnership) and their rule was that the only hate symbol they would do was a swastika, but it would have to be on your forehead so everyone could see what a sh*tty person you were.


Forget Her

My dad has mine and my brother's tattooed on his shoulder. When the artist asked if he wanted to add his wife's name my dad said "only if it's somewhere that can be cut off." He's been married three times and has a sense of humor about it.


I once considered getting my SO's initials as a tattoo. Since we share the same initials, I would simply end up with my own initials (though of course I'd know better). Didn't do it though.


Please Leave

I was a tattoo artist and I was asked to draw a dog with a human head, shark fins, cat legs, and a lizard tail, at first I went along with it but i asked to make sure that was what he wanted. He then said "give it a d***" i just asked him to leave. This was a few years ago and still remember it very clearly.


Bad Author

I was asked by a maniac to tattoo 4 years worth of his dead girlfriend's essays all over him until there isn't a spot with his skin color left.


That is sad, disturbing and stupid at the same time.


No Refunds

When I got my first tattoo I complimented my artist's collection of Virgin Mary designs. He laughed and said people were shocked that he was Jewish when they saw them. I asked if that was ever a problem. He said, "Nope. I always take payment first anytime someone wants a swastika or something, then halfway through I tell them. If they still want it, it's just a job. But if they don't, they leave with half a hate symbol and I don't give refunds." I always loved that story.



Anybody who wanted swastikas or hate symbols. Anybody clearly messed up. Anybody who couldn't pay.


One tat artist here, on another askreddit thread, said they love doing that since it means they are installing a warning label on the person who clearly needs a warning label.

Not saying you should do that I am saying I laughed at the mental image of a guy excited to slap a "threat. Threat. This one is a threat" label on someone.


Oh Hell No!

This was about 30 years ago. I was getting a tattoo and all of the sudden from another chair erupted a "get the freak out of here" and a lot of arguing about a tattoo being halfway done. Dude was getting a name tattooed with a date. Artist assumed it was a birthdate or something. The dude told the artist halfway through that it was the name of someone he killed and the date he killed her.


Space Needed

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I know a tattoo artist who has a very firm rule about not tattooing hands or neck unless there's no more room left on the person. Always thought that was fair lol.


That Girl

Not a tattoo artist, but my friends are. The one that sticks out in mind was this cashmeousside type of 18 year old white girl went into his shop and asked him to tattoo her knuckles, neck, and do a full sleeve. The reason he denied it upfront is because he knew she was basically attempting to ruin her social life and be denied jobs forever just because of it.


I think I've decided, I want some ink on my back, or right shoulder blade. I'm thinking... Madonna, Adele, Buffy walking hand in hand as they walk Scooby-Doo. Who can draw that for me? Who will paint me? Send DMs... ;)

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