Tattoo Artists Reveal The Customers They Turned Away

We all have to draw the line somewhere.

Tattoos are both expensive to get and slightly dangerous. I mean, you're literally coloring on somebody's skin with a needle. And that tattoo is going to stay on that person's skin for the rest of their lives, presumably. So you want to make sure that you aren't doing something too crazy.

Still, people will demand crazy. And it's up to you in those moments to set your personal tattoo boundaries.

u/staychel asked:

Tattoo artists of reddit, who and what have you refused to do?

Here were some of those answers:

Ain't Gonna Happen


I once refused to tattoo a girl and her father complained to me by yelling at me from about 2 feet away.

She was 14 (legal age where I live is 18) and she wanted her boyfriends name above her eye.

She was willing to compromise to her hand though.



Paranormal Gang Activity

Got a funny story actually. I once tattooed a Queen of hearts symbol on this girl (It was just a red Q written with classic card font) and a crown with a heart in it. Two weeks later she came back and had a black eye. I was new to the area so I wasn't aware of gang symbols as much, but I realized it was a Latin King/Queen symbol (A famous Chicago Gang). I covered it up with a slightly bigger design for free. Refused any card symbols afterwards.


A Sloshed Inking

A lot of people get drunk beforehand because they think it will ease the pain. Not only it will bleed more, but the tattoo artist won't trust that you'll not regret that tattoo in the morning.

I turned drunk people away several times. Plus people wanting to tattoo their SO's names. Nope. Won't do it.


It Only Took A Few Weeks To Realize Your Mistake

Couple times that stick out--refused to tattoo a young guy's entire face blue ( I was actually the counter person at the time, not the tattooer. But I spoke with the client.) he was maybe early mid 20s and thought his parents would 'like him better that color' - several weeks later we got a thank you letter from him.

  • I refuse to do any Nazi, gang, white pride, etc tattoos.
  • I will refuse someone if they make me uncomfortable
  • I will refuse to tattoo someone if they can't give 'enthusiastic' consent- basically meaning I'm not gonna let someone husband tell me the tattoo their wife is getting, while she hangs back and doesn't say a word.

Haha, Tricked Ya

Not a tattoo artist but I was getting a 7 hr session done and me and my artist were about 4 hours in and these drunk girls came in and were demanding that he stop tattooing me so one of their friends could get a tattoo on a dare. They dared her to get a Hitler mustache tattooed on her upper lip.

They kept yelling at my artist to do it and were telling me to go home because I was done. I wasn't done.

He told them to come back in a few minutes and they left and he locked the front door so they couldn't come back inside. Lol


A Diagram Of Limits

The guy I go to won't do certain things. He won't go above the collarbone or past the wrists, onto your hands, unless you have a significant amount of visible tattoos or he knows you really well (shop regular or something). He won't do anything on feet at all because people don't take care of them, then they show it to someone and they're like "that looks like garbage, who did that to you?" He's got a reputation to protect! He is also very wary about doing anything where a bra strap would rub it while it's healing.


Grief Does Not Good Decisions Make

The guy who walked in, placed his beer down in front of me and proclaimed "my mum died today, I need a tattoo" did not in fact get tattooed.


No Wind, No Names

An artist I used to go to regularly before I moved outright refuses to do names. She said "I don't wanna do a tattoo of a boyfriend's name or whatever and then go through the hassle of trying to cover it up a few months later" lol.


Bad Judgement

Not a tattoo artist, but I once met a guy who had his receding hairline filled in with tattoo ink. Like, with stippling to look like a buzz cut to make it look like he didn't have a receding hairline. He kept his actual hair cropped really short to try to make it blend in. It didn't work. That's the only time I've ever seen that, but wow was that a terrible idea.


Good Judgement


I'm not an artist, but I was getting a consultation for the tattoo I got for my late step-dad several years ago, and while I was waiting my artist was turning a girl down because she wanted to get "Jeff's S*ut" tattooed on her hip.. she got pissed and left, and I thought "excellent, I can trust this guy"..


Woman scratching head
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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