Don’t be that guy.

As much as we all love getting new modifications done, there are a few things to keep in mind when visiting the shop. This applies to new customers as well as old, and are just things to keep in mind when visiting a shop. Some may be stricter and some may be more lax about things, but in general, these behaviors won’t offend anyone, which is my ultimate intent of this post.

The first thing to know when going into a shop is to remember that this is a place of business. This is not a hang out joint, not a restaurant, not a club. These people are professionals, in a professional business setting, so treat it like one. Don’t be loud or obnoxious, don’t bounce around or run, don’t make a scene. Don’t bring in outside food or beverages that may spill and make a mess. Don’t touch and leave fingerprints on any glass cases or counters. Don’t touch any jewelry they offer to show you, look with your eyes, not with your hands.

There are usually portfolio books on counters, magazines in racks, that kinda thing. Make sure you leave the portfolio books on the counters and leave them nice and straight, don’t take the pictures out. Put magazines back in the rack, or stack where you found them. Try to leave the place as good as you found it, or better.

Be polite and respectful to anyone who greets you at the door or counter. Say please and thank you. If you have any questions before you get started, ask them politely. Don’t interrupt when they answer you, wait until they finish before you ask for clarification or further questions. Don’t argue with advice you’re given just because it’s not what you wanted to hear. If you go in at 17 with your aunt and ask if she can sign for you, and the piercer or tattoo artist tells you no, that means no. In most states, it is illegal to get tattooed under the age of 18, even with parental or legal guardian consent. Do not get upset if the piercer tells you that you are physically unable to get a certain piercing, this happens more often than you might think. They’re not telling you these things because they don’t like you, or because your money isn’t good enough, none of that. They’re telling you this because it is their professional advice and opinions. They may offer you alternatives as well.

Your artist will tell you how to take care of your piercing or tattoo once the procedure is complete, sometimes even a few pointers or warnings beforehand. LISTEN TO THEM. I know you’re excited about the finished product, but you honestly have to sit quietly and listen to what the artist has to tell you, it’s very important to the health and healing of your new modification. Many will also send you home with a brochure of aftercare methods, but you also need to listen to what they tell you.

I know it’s always more fun to get modified with a friend, or sometimes you need them for support, but don’t bring your entire family, circle of friends, or entourage to the shop. Most shops are fairly small, and piercing rooms and tattoo stations tend to be even smaller still. The general rule, in my book anyway, is not more than 2 other people with you. If everyone is going in for some kind of modification, even better, because at least then everyone is a paying customer, not just taking up valuable space. Do not bring your kids, do not bring babies, and for God’s sake DO NOT bring pets! I saw a woman try to bring in her little dog when she wanted to get pierced and watched as she was told to put the dog in the car, and then come back, which she never did. So leave the kids with a sitter, leave the dog at home. They’re totally not necessary.

Don’t talk on your phone, text, or surf the internet on your phone while the tattoo artist is working on you, or while getting pierced. Pay attention, talk to them, sit back and relax, or turn off the phone, put it on silent, just put the phone away. It’s just common courtesy. Your Facebook status, your Twitter update, all of that can wait until you’re done in the shop.

One thing that many people don’t think about is taking pictures or videos of the artist, their work, or them working. It’s actually very rude to do this to an artist if you don’t have their permission first. So ask. Some are okay with it, but some are not. Would you like someone taking pictures and video of you working? It’s the same thing with body mod artists. If they say no, then put the camera away.

Another thing you might not think about before going into the shop is what you should have done to your body ahead of time. Bear with me here. Say you’re going in for a calf tattoo. You know you’re going to get it that day. So shave your legs beforehand! This applies to guys as well. If you go in for a piercing, don’t wear makeup in that area. It is true that most artists will shave the area to be tattooed, and piercers will clean the area to be pierced, but I know I would be pleased if I went to tattoo some guys leg and he was already shaved. It’s not recommended you wax the area beforehand, though. If you do, wait at least three days after the wax before you get tattooed. Waxing is hard on the skin and can cause reactions, irritation and sensitivity. So if you want to wax the area to be tattooed, make sure you do so at least three days before the tattoo.

A sensitive subject to brave is the tipping etiquette. Yes, it is customary to tip your artist or piercer. There is no set amount, but just like tipping in a restaurant, 10-15% is a good range to start with. If you loved your experience, your artist, the work they did, then tip more. It doesn’t even have to be cash. I brought my tattoo artist a snack the last time I saw him. It was all fully wrapped, not messy, and I knew he would have taken a break before getting started on me anyway. He was really appreciative. Most people are a little wary of homemade food, though, so if you want to bring your artist a snack, make sure it’s store bought and fully wrapped.

Like most other things in life, and in this industry in general, common courtesy and common sense are going to rule. Treat the artists the way you’d like to be treated, talk to them they way you’d like other people to talk to you. Try being in their position, are you really going to want to perform a service for someone who’s rude, obnoxious, not paying attention, not listening, or is just plain not a pleasure to be around? Be that one awesome person who makes their day. Make them laugh, make them remember you in a good way. Be the person so that when you walk out, the artist says “Man, they were awesome.” Don’t we all want to be that person, anyway?

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