Are tattoo TV shows making customers more demanding?

If you’ve got something to say about tattooing today, here on Inkluded is the place to say it!

This week I was contacted by tattooist Will Gee who has been experiencing some challenges in relation to some of his potential customers. This is not the first time I’ve heard this story, meaning it must be one worth telling!

I’ll let Will do the talking…

Tattoo TV Shows

Watercolour rose tattoo by Will Gee

I’ve recently had a huge influx of tattoo customers who expect the process to work a certain, rather bizarre, way.

This is how things normally work with regards to booking a tattoo with me, and no doubt most other artists:

  • We chat about what the client would like – ideas, styles, placement, etc.
  • We check that we’re both going in the right direction
  • They then book an appointment and leave a deposit
  • I subsequently create a concept for the piece and materialise it into some form of artwork (digital, paper, freehand)
Kamila Burzymowska

Are tattoo TV shows influencing the attitudes of customers? Photography of an artist at work, from an international tattoo convention, courtesy of Kamila Burzymowska

Tattoo TV Shows

Harry Potter tattoo by Will Gee

A changing clientele

Over the few months, I’m finding more and more people expecting the artwork to be created up-front, before they can commit to booking an appointment with me. Quite often I hear, “well… you create the artwork, and if I like it, I’ll book in to have it tattooed.”

On one hand, I do understand this mentality, but as an artist, it can’t really work in this way. I could spend hours creating a design – gathering reference, drawing something, refining it – and if at the end of that process the customer says “no, I don’t fancy it actually!” there’s no compensation for my time.

I think as artists we find this frustrating as it doesn’t often happen in other professions. It would be like a chef creating a dish for you and him only getting paid if you can taste it first and then decide if you like it. It’s cost him time and money to create buy viagra at store it.

Tattoo TV Shows

Photographic reference material, by Will Gee

The influence of the media

I personally feel like this attitude has started to emerge due to reality tattoo TV shows. Often clients are pictured as walking into a studio and having an artist create one or more designs for them on the spot to choose from.

For those new to all this – what you see on tattoo TV shows is rarely an accurate representation of how studios actually work. If you’ve not had a tattoo experience in real life before, it’s easy for you to get the wrong impression.

Don’t get me wrong, each tattoo artist works completely differently. Some may create artwork in this way but in my experience it is rare.

The other huge worry when it comes to giving out artwork to customers without any prior commitment is that often the individual will take it somewhere else to try and get it cheaper. Some “tattooists” will accept designs in this way as it has then saved them 4-5 hours prep work. Sadly, there are many who don’t respect our creative processes and it’s really common for this to happen.

Tattoo TV Shows

Will Gee’s tattoo studio in Tavistock, Devon

Tips for booking an appointment

Every artist in this industry brings something unique to the table. The possibilities blow my mind and clients have so much amazing work to choose from!

When picking the artist right for you, ask yourself:

  • Do I like their previous artworks? Am I happy with the quality of it?
  • Does this tattooist specialise in the style that I want tattooed?
  • Can I afford their work or do I need to save-up first before I book?

If you do this research beforehand and have a proper consultation with your tattooist, you should feel confident in securing an appointment with a deposit and not be disappointed with the custom design they create for you.

Read Inkluded’s guide to booking a tattoo appointment.

Tattoo TV Show

Watercolour tattoo by Will Gee

Tattoo TV Show

Watercolour tattoo by Will Gee


  1. Loved this post, I think you’re right that people expect there to be three or four designs and you get to pick the nicest one. It’s so important to pick the right tattooist and I’m in the process at the moment!


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