A Change To The Minimum - Quality over Quantity
It’s been 3 years since we’ve opened the tattoo shop on West Chestnut in Downtown Louisville. We’ve had many, many changes, and many stories that could take hours to tell. This wasn’t our first endevour in the tattoo industry, but we still had (and have) a lot to learn from opening our own location. We’ve been forced to make decisions we didn’t like, and because of those rough decisisons, we’ve had the freedom to make our own path. Whether you choose to read this lengthy blog post is entiriely up to you, hopefully you do, because we will be making changes to the shop that are explained as you read on.
I like to write about experiences that’ve taught me something. It makes it easier to create factual and informed blog posts, as opposed to creating content about random interests. Hopefully, all of these blog posts have a purpose which can be informative to you in some way. These experiences working at the tattoo shop has changed our state of mind, which is becoming more focused on quality than quantity.
This brings me to the topic of this particular post: We are raising the minimum of our tattoos, and the quality of art you recieve from us. We are doing that in multiple forms, such as continuelly educating ourselves in the skills that benefit our profession(s); not settling for the easy way; and continueing to be true to who we are.
In a way, it’s taken me 3 years to write this blog post. I’ve always felt like I wanted to say: Hey, I deserve more for the amount of work I’ve put into this product. But Mark and I, have never had as much experience and education on the topics we care about, as we do now. That puts us in a unique position to almost demand certain things, and put a criteria on what we expect and wish to achieve.
We Want To Share
We want to share quality tattoos, products and experiences. By quality, you may be asking what does that even mean or look like? We always strive to create tattoos like the ones in magazines and famous Instagram accounts, but in reality those are individuals who have created an identity that suits them as an independent artists. They are attempting to become ‘Ink Master’. We are a tattoo shop. We are focused on client, craft, and environment, while holding a small portion of the tattoo industry on our shoulders. We have many, many more elements to take into consideration with tattoos than an individual would by themselves.
As a shop, we are striving for a different outcome. We want to help better the industry; we want to better ourselves as artists working in a shop professionally; and we want to better the tattoo experience for our clients as much as we can. This is very hard to explain to a client who wants a spontaneous tattoo, or to a person who may work at our shop for a short time. It may seem unessecary to explain, but somehow the need finds its way to the surface of all interactions within the shop. Over and over and over…
The Current Standard
I’m going to take a short detour to explain what the standard is right now in the tattoo industry. Its very common to start your career as a tattoo Apprentice and move up (when your mentor approves), into an Artist, and over the course of your entire life, eventually becoming a Master (or Sailor, back in the day, i.e: Sailor Jerry). This path takes decades, like any craft or skill, you have to hone this ability for many, many years. That takes dedication in learning more about other artists in your field; researching all the time; working all the time; and educating others.
We’ve taken on many people at our shop as apprentices and working artists. Within a very short amount of time they’ve come and gone, mostly because they were striving for the things that ultimately seemed to benefit themselves. Whether that meant they needing money for bills; or they wanted a place to get free supplies or quick crash course in tattooing; or because they think tattooing looks cool and makes them feel cooler (a.k.a they were there for the ladies). Whatever the case, in the end, it didn’t suit what we were aiming to accomplish as a tattoo shop. Tattooing has a weird way of showing a persons true self. If you let life continue on its normal path, a lot can be revealed to you, and naturally handled. Naturally, and conviently these people tend to fade away and follow their own paths. Occasionally, we’re forced to change paths on them, because we can see that their goals aren’t in the same place.
As far as customers, there are tons of examples to explain the current standard. The times have changed tremedously since Sailors and bikers were getting all the tattoos. Now, we have very young college students; middle to upper class mothers and fathers; professional doctors and what have you. The range of clients has increased, but so has the indisutries artistry. These new comers to the tattoo world (including myself, but I have a different prespective from the inside out), have yet to catch up to whats considered art in the tattoo world. Thanks to the internet, this mysterious world of ink and skin has been exposed to those who would never have step foot in a tattoo shop a generation ago. But unfortunately with the internet’s open doors, comes mediocrcy, and you really have to search and sift through all the mundane to get to the juicy bits. Sadly, many customers do not take that time, even for something that’s going to be on their body forever. We can’t get mad at that, as this is a world thats pretty unfamiliar.
It’s important to say, this has nothing to do with the individual, but more with what they desire for a tattoo. Often these tattoos are chosen off of Pinterest under whats trending or ‘cute’ for a small tattoo idea, or Googled and chosen within the first few images. I love asking what the tattoo means to a person, not to be an asshole, but to genuiely do some market research. Alot of the time, I feel the tattoo has been justified to mean something, but at the same time, anything can be given justification. Just like I can tell myself drinking coffee everyday could possibly prevent cancer, maybe.
My point is, do you ever go to the Apple store to buy a prepaid flip phone? Probably not! Would you ever go to a jewelry store to get a wooden wedding ring? What about stepping into a Gucci store and asking for a pack of $2 t-shirts? Seems kind of rediculous, right? As much as we love doing tattoos, there is a standard and once you’ve raised that standard through hard work, dedication and years of progression, you start to demand a little more. It’s like swimming in the kiddy pool for 10 years. That sounds miserable, eventually you move to the 10ft side, and graduate to some choppy waves in the ocean. Anyway, I think I’ve explained myself a little too much. Here’s what our standard is becoming.
Our New Standard
In the past, we’ve attempted to do every tattoo that’s come into our shop. It’s not because we’ve absolutely loved every single tattoo design that people can create, or find online. It’s because we were a new location on the block, and we had plenty of new artists that were hungry to learn and do more tattoos. Since then we’ve changed our mentatlity quite a bit and the type of artists we allow to work in our shop. We’ve had to say some tough goodbyes and have had to see a few people leave our shop whom we considered friends. We’ve learned two really important things in this industry: Business doesn’t have friends, and you must always move forward.
That being said, we’re not ashamed to improve our shop in ways that benefit our brand and our current working artists. We’re going to make some changes that will hopefully enhance the quality of work we put out, while maintaining our calm and respectful reputation. How we plan to do this may, or may not, affect you as a client. We hope that it would make you feel more comfortable and loyal to our shop.
- We will no longer be taking tattoos as they come, we are focused only on custom designs. If you want the tattoo as it is exactly in the picture you provide, you will not be able to get that tattoo in our shop. We have years of experience in creating, and work on paintings, drawings and designs on a daily basis. As tattoo artists with years of creative experience and education, we would hope that you can understand we have more knowledge on what looks good on your body as a tattoo and what doesn’t.
- We recommend an appointment first. To draw something with care and consideration of your body, we need time to prepare and design. If you want a spontaneous tattoo that you deicded to get that day, and refuse to set an appointment for another time, we will politely decline your tattoo. We are focused on original art, not copying designs off the internet.
- Our minimum will increase. Originally it was set to fit a price that would be fair for a reletiviely small tattoo with little to no re-designing. Since we are fully designing custom tattoos, typically half a palm-size and up, we are demanding a slightly higher minimum. Not only does designing take time and focus, we also have to set up and prepare for the tattoo session. This is something you do not want to rush, it also creates a way for the artist to clear his/her mind before sitting down to do your tattoo. All of these factors are important and work together cohesively. They require us to raise the lowest level even higher.
- We are no longer doing small words, or letter tattoos unless you respect and understand that our current apprentice will be doing your tattoo for you. As for finger/side palm/side foot tattoos, you must understand that your tattoo will not hold the ink. It will fade. I repeat, any tattoo in the rough parts of your body, meaning the hand, finger or foot, will fade over time. The amount of time that takes depends on how frequently you use, or moisturize that area. If you’re getting a tattoo in this area you will most likely be declined, unless you absolutely understand these factors. Touch ups are not free in these areas.
Things To Keep In Mind
We are speaking from the prespective of a Downtown tattoo shop. We are not speaking as individuals, we are a collective of artists moving under the same roof, working towards similar goals. We are always striving to become better at our craft.
In the end, these changes ultimately benefit the client! You recieve better work from artists that you can respect and feel comfortable with, within a shop that doesn’t judge or create negativity. We are artists first and formost, the last thing we want is to become detached; or be treated with disrepect, because we expect respect, we also give respect. We hope that you can see the changes we’re making in a positive way, and continue to support us.
For any questions or concerns, please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
We do not see Facebook messages or DMs as quickly as an email or phone call.
Stay posted on our blog for more information on changes around the shop, or any deals on aftercare or tattoos.
Doree x DORK