Tattoo Artists Share Their Funniest 'Tattoo Virgin' Stories
Image by ilovetattoos from Pixabay

Getting a tattoo can be a nerve-wracking experience. It's a big decision to get something permanently tattooed onto your body. So many thing can go wrong, especially if this is your first tattoo.

Tattoo artists put up with a lot. A lot of people are nervous and not ready to handle the pain of getting a tattoo. There's a high chance of fainting because of it. Then there are the indecisive clients who don't even know what they want in the first place.

Tattoo artists on Reddit shared their hilarious and cringe worthy stories about their worst clients.

Redditor ArthurThyKing asked:

"Tattoo Artists of Reddit, who was your worst 'tattoo virgin'?"

If you're looking to get a tattoo, take some notes.

Mirrors can be deceiving.

"I'll take this one. I had a client who got a Jesus fish with Greek letters on his chest. I put the stencil on, he looks down says "looks good" and we do the tattoo. Guy sits like a CHAMP through his entire first tattoo. I finish up after about 45 minutes, he checks it out in the mirror and immediately goes pale, starts to sweat and sits down."

"Dude looks at me and says 'it's BACKWARDS!' All shook. I look at his tattoo, look at him on the floor, look at the mirror and tell the guy 'I'm gonna take a photo of it for you to see, because you don't know how mirrors work.' A couple minutes go by as I'm handing the dude paper towels, The guy stands up all quick and try's to play it off like he was just messing with me even though for a minute there, there was a corpse on my studio floor...."

- tattoosbyjerad

"Okay no lie, that is exactly what happened to one of the football players at my old high school. Our school logo was a capital F between two offset parentheses (it was supposed to look like a hurricane, yes it was stupid) and the moron got the tattoo done so that it looked correct in the mirror. He has yet to live it down, and that was ten years ago."

- ArchaicGeek

"Getting your high school logo tattooed really screams 'I peaked in high school' But getting it backwards?? That screams 'I haven't peaked and probably never will.'"

- luckyveggie

Couples tattoo.

"One shop I worked at we had a couple come in on the day we did $100 two inch by two inch tattoos, they both were getting these small triceratops outline tattoos behind their ears, nothing too crazy or detailed so maybe about 15 minutes each in the chair at most."

"The guy is losing his mind, he's hyperventilating, laughing, jumping up and down and yelling questions at all of us, visually very nervous. He tells one of our apprentices that this is his first tattoo and keeps asking them how bad it hurts over and over again, the owner went into the back and grabbed an ammonia packet, worried the guy would pass out the second needle touched skin."

"Turns out it was this couples first date, he had told her he was impulsive and she tried to call his bluff and suggested they get matching tattoos. To his credit he got the tattoo and didn't pass out, paid for them both too!"

- Hellcathowl

"They later got married due to a series of escalating dares."

- MC_Hale

"I feel like if it didn't work out and that was like one of the last dates that would be fine assuming they both like the tattoo on its own merits. Totally fun story. Also if they get married that would be fine obviously. But there's a whole lot of room in between those poles..."

- transitionalities

"She continues to push him to more extremes that he isn't comfortable with, they move in together, get engaged, but she grows bored of him and eventually cheats. He finds out and is shattered, struggles to cope and becomes depressed."

"One day he sees the tattoo he got on his first date and returns to the same place to ask about changing it to a less painful memory. The artist is cute, sketches up something that fits him so perfectly it brings tears to his eyes. He isn't even nervous as she works, her smile is so calming and peaceful."

"When it's done she asks why he wanted it changed, and he breaks down and tells her everything. She asks if he wants to get coffee."

- iruleatants

Just be honest about how you're feeling.

"It's not the worst, but I love this one. At the expense of my very good client, I generally use this story to help newbs ease in to my chair more comfortably. So it was his first and I'm getting my stencil prepped. He was so nervous, he was basically white. Kept asking if he was good. Yeh he was ok..I guess."

"Place the stencil on him and ask him to take a look. He looks at his arm and immediately passes out in the chair lol. He's sliding out of the chair, we get him back up and he comes to. He got over it, eventually and has his sleeve."


"I am physically laughing out loud at this because unconscious people are such big bags of heavy jello, I can fully picture him, just knees buckled and slowly making his descent to the floor before somebody bodily hoists him back into the chair and proceeds as normal."

- Neurotic_Bakeder

"I was getting lettering and dude finally got to my spine. He asked me how I was doing. I said a little light headed, but keep going. He said nope we are stopping for 15 minutes. I guess he's had a bunch of people pass out on him."

- DaggerMoth

"I had the same deal. Got the crook of my elbow done. I was feeling real sh*t but I didn't want to stop because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to start again. The artist noticed me sweating, getting dizzy, and breathing hard. He handed me a glucose tablet and some water then got me a cool towel until I could handle it again."

- smaugismyhomeboy

Know what you want before consulting the artist.

"Not a tattoo artist, just heavily tattooed and have a lot of friends who are artists. Allow me to tell you the story of Danny the Dummy."

"Danny at the time of the story was a 21 year old oil field worker who had more money than sense, he wanted to get an entire sleeve tattoo done but couldn't decide what he wanted, he would come in for a consult, the artist (my friend) would take everything he said and draw up what he wanted, then he would come back and completely change his mind."

"That's not the reason why he's called Danny the Dummy though, he's called that because, among other things, he never once could remember the name of the animal he wanted to get. He first asked for a lion 'pack' in on a mountain with the moon above them and them roaring into it. My artist friend said 'oh you mean like the end of lion king?' and Danny said yes. The next time he came in he said the animal was wrong and when he showed the picture it was a wolf pack, so my artist friend drew that. Danny comes back and decides he doesn't want that, he instead wants an 'eagle in flight,' so my artist friend draws that, and if you guessed the animal was wrong you're keeping up, he in fact wanted an owl in flight.

"After this my artist friend was basically done with Danny, he was going to do this last drawing and if Danny changed his mind again he was going to fire him as a customer and blacklist him in his shop. Well he drew an amazing owl in flight and Danny said he loved it, so finally a date was selected and Danny was going to come in and get it. Well Danny never showed, about half an hour past his appointment time my artist friend calls him and Danny says 'oh damn man, I'm sorry, I'm out of the country today, I'm in North Dakota'.....the artist is based in Arizona, Danny thought that different states were different countries. Never saw or heard from him again and my friend ended up putting that owl on a coworker of his that loved the drawing."

- amalgamas

"I hope your friend charged him for each drawing. That's a lot of time and effort. Most artist I've been too usually ask for money down to draw up the concept. One, it means you won't get a no show because they already got money into it. And two, if they no show well you didn't waste your time drawing the art."

- Metal-Butterfly


- amalgamas

The irony.

"Not the worst client. But just an unfortunate event. The apprentice at my shop who had only been tattooing for a little under a year was tattooing this girls wrist recently, her first tattoo the word 'undefeated.' Gets the tattoo, it goes smoothly, she likes it, walks to the lobby, shows her dad, he likes it. Walks back to get bandaged up, gets bandaged, they walk back to the counter as he's explaining aftercare she blacks out."

"Falls back hits her head on a giant painting hanging on the wall (an Ed Hardy original) the painting falls, glass breaks. He runs over picks her up and is checking the back of her head. Realizes a giant piece of glass had punctured her shoulder/trap. EMT comes, tell her she needs stitches, they end up having to take her to the emergency room where she got 6 stitches. The next week the girl brought him a giant tub of cookies. She wasn't the worst, but it was an incredibly unfortunate experience for the both of them. His first time having someone pass out and her being 'defeated.'"

- tattoocaleb

"She can claim the tattoo is undefeated. It took her out."

- GloInTheDarkUnicorn

"Hey, she only fainted after leaving the ring. She's still the champ."

- ActuallySatanAMA

"I mean, she lived though! Falling backwards onto glass and only needing 6 stitches? Could have been waaaay worse, that's undefeated to me!"

- jumpsteadeh

Strangest Things Seen In A Contract's Terms And Conditions | George Takei’s Oh Myyy

Don't haggle with your tattoo artist.

"There's a few different ways you can go with worst. Is worst most reactive? Is worst most picky and unreasonable?"

"I've been pretty lucky in the grand scheme of things. My worst most reactive / annoying client was this dude who was very clearly a drug addict. He came in, wanted a simple tribal tattoo on his stomach, I saw sure no problem but he starts haggling me about the price, at first it was $400, then he said no more than $200, we finally settled on $300 after about 20 minutes of back and forth."

"I get all setup, we start the tattoo, within a minute he says he needs to stand up, that's he's in too much pain and needs to walk around. He walks around for about 2 or 3 minutes, then lays back down, gets tattooed for another couple minutes and then same thing. He does this constantly throughout the entire tattoo. During this time he was constantly scratching his head, twitching all over and complaining loudly. But the worst part wasn't the fact that this 2 hour tattoo turned into almost 4 hours. The worst was that he kept going out for smoke breaks, but kept only taking 2 or 3 puffs, putting the cherry out and then putting the smoke back in his pocket. So all I could smell the entire time was musty cigs, it was disgusting. (The cigarettes smelled old, if you've ever smelled old cigs you know what I'm talking about. He also kept putting it in the pocket that was right beside my face)"


"No chance I'm haggling with somebody who's about to permanently mark my body."

- Barbarossa7070

"Best tattoo artist I ever had was when I got my first tattoo. I underestimated how much it would hurt, especially since I decided to get it on my ribs. I asked about half way through if I could take a break and have a smoke. She said, 'I understand, but do you really want to prolong it? I'm half way done. If you can stand to wait 10 more minutes, it'll be done. I think you can power through.' So I waited 10 minutes. Then, she said, 'I think you can wait another 10 minutes.' Really taught me to just sit and just let the artist do their work. Tattoo came out to be more beautiful than I imagined."

- sillybanana2012

"I am not a tattoo artist, but I am a barber and there are some distinct similarities in our work. I wasn't prepared to share this story, but I read your response and needed to share it. My worst haircut ever was a drug addict that was clearly high when he got in my chair. I have cut this individuals hair half a dozen times sometimes he was fine, sometimes on the edge…. This time… oh boy. Granted, as a barber I am only with this client ideally less than 30 minutes."

"Literally every 2 minutes this guy repeated what he wanted. "Fade on the side, a little off the top, you know what you're doing, I'll give you a good tip." This guy went to the bathroom no more, no less, 6 times during my haircut. What would have been a 15 minute haircut tops ended up being almost 40 minutes of constantly hearing that statement. Him taking off the cape and telling me he had to go to the bathroom."

"Now, I am a VERY patient barber. Kids screaming in my chair doesn't phase me in the least. Grumpy old dude just looking to hassle someone… doesn't phase me. I was just about ready to beat the snot out of this guy."

"This is the client I just cannot stand. He gave me a $40 tip, but oh man… It was frustrating. I am happy to say that the last two times he came in he was clean, adopted a dog and has a girlfriend and seems completely happy and normal now. I hope he continues to better himself and stay away from whatever was after him."

- Vendetta5885

The Hello Kitty Lady.

"Not your usual tattoo virgin story more of a rant on my behalf, but I've been tattooing for almost 8 years now. The worst experience I have had with a client, was a lady who my work mates and I would call 'the hello kitty lady' 30 something year old tattoo virgin."

So essentially the design we were working on was Hello Kitty riding a pink Dragon, Half sleeve (shoulder to elbow) now I specialize in Japanese tattoos which for the initial consultation she expressed how much she loved my style of Japanese Dragons, so here's me thinking 'sick, I can smash this dragon out the park and just put a hello kitty on the dragon' easy peasy, booked her in for a full 8hr day."

"So we begin tattooing, we start talking about how much we both loooove art and she's heavily praising the tattoos i do and my tattoo style, suuuper friendly and we're hitting it off. She's talking kinda loud, which I take its because she's understandably nervous, meaning my work mates can easily hear her speaking as well. Fast forward to our 20 min lunch break, I finish eating and so I walk out to front reception where one of my work mates tells me. 'Hey, man I was outside having a smoke with your client, not too sure if she knew I was an artist as well, but she was real upset with how the tattoos going, she says it isn't hurting as much, that you're not doing the tattoo properly because her skins not red (irritated).'

"And she said, 'There's no way I'm paying all that money for a tattoo that isn't done properly,' completely caught me off guard and went against eeeeverything we were talking about. So when we came back to tattooing I made sure to be overly reassuring, letting her know exactly what I was doing and why I was using certain inks which she'd insist were 'too light of a shade of pink' but I knew this pink was going to heal exactly the way she wanted it."

"Anyways we finish up and I get home, check my emails and there are 2 huuuuuuuuuge paragraphs on how much of a sh*t job I've done and that I never did what she asked for (we both clearly agreed to the design before hand, I do this with every one of my clients where I get them to check the design) I reply reassuring her that the tattoo will heal as planned that the colours will settle and that it is easily fixable (I put paw prints on hello kitty to show it was the underside of her paws and not just 2 lil random clouds poking out. But she didn't want them, even though they were in the original design she approved. No worries, I graylined them so they'd be super easy to fix). She replies with another long paragraph on how I should tattoo and listen to my clients wishes which I don't reply to because at this point I know she is overreacting and its her first tattoo."

"2 weeks later she emails saying how much she loves her tattoo, it healed perfectly, the pink was the right shade and that she wants to book in to finish it up."

- XavYoung

"Jesus. Did she apologize for freaking out at you?"

- casseroled

"So I didn't end up finishing I palmed her off to another artist. Basically told her I felt uncomfortable that I wasn't going to meet her expectations (purposely worded it that way) in reality I wanted nothing to do with her lol I was wondering whether I was being a dick for doing so but I even felt uncomfortable emailing her so I did the right thing. She also never apologized didn't even acknowledge her behaviour. Since then I take even more precautions before booking in clients."

- XavYoung

Putting up quite the fuss.

"I was still a tattoo apprentice at the time, and I think I had only done about thirty tattoos or so at the time. All my clients so far had been friends, or friends of friends - very low-pressure situations. This girl was someone I knew casually from college, and she was getting just a little quarter-sized outline of something on her ankle. (A chibi-Totoro, actually.)"

"It was the most nerve-wracking experience. She okay'd the drawing (I'm being generous calling it that; it was literally an outline), I had the stencil, everything is set up. I place it with no issue. She lays down on the bed, and as soon as my foot touches the pedal and my machine starts, she screams. Not a little yelp of surprise, or a little gasp. A full-on scream. I immediately stop the machine, ask her if she's okay."

"'Yeah, I'm fine, it's just a scary noise!'"

"Okay, I understand -- it's loud, it's intense. I try to soothe her and say that she won't have to hear it for more than ten minutes. But as soon as I turn on the machine again, she screams - again. My nerves are shot, my heart is pounding, and at this point I'm telling her that maybe she shouldn't get tattooed today. (Or possibly ever.)"

"'No, it's fine -- just tattoo me through it!' Alrighty then. I turn on the machine - cue a small shriek - and go to make one line. She immediately squirms across the table, yanking her foot away."

"This back and forth ensued for another twenty minutes. I go to tattoo her, she's screaming, she's writhing on the bed, she keeps physically wrenching her body away from me. The needle hasn't even made contact with the skin yet. But she's still arguing with me: just do it, I can handle it, I don't want to leave without a tattoo. At one point, after half-standing to physically hold down her foot, I make a little line."

"This line is literally the size of a sewing stitch in a jacket. It's 1cm long. But she bursts into tears. I entirely give up on the whole tattoo. I told her she clearly wasn't ready, it's not a big deal, and she can just come back to finish it another time. So I bandage it up (it's still a wound, after all), and she goes on her way."

"Getting tattooed (even a little one) can be terrifying, and I don't want to diminish anyone's anxiety or worry about it. A permanent change to your body is always a big deal. However, in this case, she seemed to be playing it up for the friend she brought with her. He had stepped into the front room to check his phone or something, and she started to really act up -- and then would look over to see if he noticed."

"My mentor was with me during this whole process, and she was trying to let me handle it on my own but she actually stepped in towards the end to tell my client that I could not tattoo her with her behaving this way. I was so new that it didn't occur to me I could refuse to keep going. I also suspect that that's why she came back and got it with no big deal; I insisted that she come alone."

"The whole thing was excruciating. Ironically, she did come back and get it finished a few weeks later with minimal fuss."

- deadwittingly

If you've never gotten a tattoo before, take these tales as helpful tips when getting your first tattoo.

If you've gotten a tattoo before, but you've done something similar to your artist before, take this as a wake up call because they remember their bad clients.

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