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Warning: Unprofessional Artist!

I guess this experience started when I decided I wanted a female artist to begin a new piece on me. this piece was very large and very important for reasons I don't exactly like to talk about. I have another artist I work with that is amazing but I really wanted to work with a female artist on this piece.

It was the very first time I had researched artists online without getting personal references from people I know (No one I know gets tattooed in Calgary). There are a lot of tattoo shops in Calgary but when I came upon K. and found a Stunning blackbird sketch in her artwork it seemed perfect that she do the piece (it contained blackbirds). She didn't have many pieces on her web page but they looked well done, so I emailed her.

Well K doesn't work weekends and I have trouble booking weekdays off so we made the appointment for the first day of my holidays and I dropped off a deposit with her apprentice that following Saturday when i made it to Calgary.

I started to chicken out after considering the fact that I had never seen any of her work in person and had never worked with her before, and this piece was significant to me so I gave her an excuse and asked her to do another piece on my left upper arm almost 2 weeks in advance of our appointment. We discussed what I wanted and I sent references of what I was looking for and she said she was excited to do the piece.

The day of the tattoo came and I woke up at 6 o'clock to get ready to leave at 7:30 for the three hour drive to Calgary. we arrived at the shop at 10:40, 20 minutes early and her apprentice opened up, I told him I was there for K. and he said "Have a seat, she's usually late". we sat in the shop waiting for a little over an hour and my boyfriend went out for a smoke, i waited alone for another 15 minutes and then joined him outside, livid that I had been left to wait for this long. we stood outside for about another fifteen minutes and nobody came out to say anything, I told my boyfriend I would wait another 10 minutes and then we were leaving.

As I went back inside I could hear a female voice and prayed that that was her! (after the appointment we had another 3 hour drive to the mountains to enjoy my first vacation in 4 years) As i sat she peered over the upper balcony "Kiersten, can you come up here for a second?" I went up and she showed me the sketch. It was nice, nothing like the idea of what I had in my head but I liked the drawing. we sized it and she sent me back downstairs while she made the stencil.

After finally applying the stencil at 10 minutes to 1pm, I asked her to add a little more hair and then we were on our way. This woman had the heaviest hand of every tattoo artist I have ever worked with, it felt as if she was dragging the tip of a steak knife sideways over each line. I peered over the tattoo quite a bit and I could both see and feel her go over some lines again after doing a few others. I could feel myself flinching here and there and it was a foreign feeling, I never even flinched when I had the palm of my hand tattooed!

Each time she paused I would take a minute to look, many of the lines looked crooked, but I was swelling alot so I figured once the swelling went down they would look okay. She finally finished the outline (only 2 hours and a few minutes to complete a lot of lines, seemed rushed to me) and had me look in the mirror. there were even more lines added to the hair AFTER the ones i asked for and it now went farther onto the back of my arm, although the front of my arm has a blank looking spot. I wasn't happy with it and told her I would continue until my boyfriend arrived.

We sat back down to start the shading and he walked in the doors, as he walked over he looked me in the eye and furrowed his eyebrows, I lightly shook my head implying "nothing" and sat a few more minutes before telling her i couldn't take the pain anymore. A sad excuse, I have a high pain tolerance and have sat for 8 hours before on my backpiece.

"I think I'm a little harder on you than your previous artists" she admitted. I didnt deny it, my first tattoo was done by a 58 year old man who completely butchered my leg and this session was more painful. She bandaged my arm with a puppy pee pad, charged me $350 and we left.

The second we got back in the truck my boyfriend confronted me "what's wrong?" i told him my concerns about the tattoo and he asked why i didnt say anything to her. I am horrible with confrontation and wanted to see how it looked once the swelling went down.

I began peeling really quickly and it healed without any real problems. once done flaking I sat down and looked at it noticing many of the lines were blown out or a little crooked. Some lines were crossed over others into areas they didn't belong. Unhappy with this, I found actual pieces of the tattoo that didn't make sense... the sleeves of her shirt look more like bra straps, her top lip extends across while the bottom curls under, the clock is supposed to be 3D and just looks weird, her ear is tiny in proportion to her face and the fishnet gloves (which aren't very nice fishnet) have double lines over her fingers (I am guessing to look like sheer finger holes).

Finally I took the chance to email her my concerns, hoping there was some way we could fix it. K. immediately took offence stating "nobody has ever said those kinds of things in my 11 years in the industry, blowouts just happen sometimes." going on to say "I am a hard tattooer, I don't fine line" and refusing to fix or finish the tattoo because it "Just leaves me in a position where I am not stoked on continuing on with it" and when I asked her to return my deposit she refused.

To me this was unprofessional, if you can't work with your clients then why do you work in an industry where working with people is imperative? If your ego can't handle a few critiques from someone who is STUCK with your artwork for the rest of their lives... why do you do it? K. proved to me she was only in it for the money when she refused to return my deposit. I'm hoping by posting this I can save a few people from being subjected to unprofessional tattoo artists like this one! Thankfully I didn't get the piece I had originally contacted her for in the beginning or I would feel ashamed of a very important memory.

[Editor's Note: Name removed due to artist's complaints to BME.]


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 28 July 2012
in Pinup Tattoos

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Comments (5)

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Monday, July 30, 2012 @4:39 p.m.
Damn, so sorry that happened to you. I totally understand about not wanting to be confrontational, after all you want to believe they know what they are doing as artists, but some can have really poor bedside manner so to speak and that can make it really difficult to communicate any issues you are having with them. Im sure you will find another artist who will be more than happy to fix her mistakes. And Im sure next time you wont pick an artist without seeing their work first! Live and Learn, right?
Thursday, September 13, 2012 @12:02 a.m.
Ya I used to cry about pain too, but I think I was 3 and fell off my tricycle. When I get tatooed by "hard" artists I usually fall asleep. Of couse my tattoo looks weird when it's not completed.. I never call the artist and complain about an unfinished piece, what the f**k do I know? If I knew anything I would be the one with the tattoo shop. I know a couple people with unfinished work on them. There is usually a very good reason why. Now I'm just guessing... But how many more unfinished tattoos do you have?
Thursday, September 13, 2012 @12:18 a.m.
Are you fucking serious? You don't like confrontation, so you let someone tattoo something you don't like on you? That's the most retarded thing I've ever heard. You saw a drawing previous, right? I'm sure she used a stencil of that drawing, so you clearly approved of the artwork beforehand. Good job turning into an art critic afterwards. People like you drive me crazy, blaming others for your mistakes. If you didn't like the drawing, grow some balls and say something, instead of passive agressively slandering a single moms reputation from the comfort of your couch. And before you say the obvious; yes, I know Karrie, and I have tattoos from her. I am very heavily tattooed, and a tattooer myself, and I can confidently say that she is not what people who don't know shit about tattooing would call "heavy handed". She tattoos in a traditional manner, meaning fat outlines and whip shading, and she doesn't hold you hand while she does it. Is she perfect? No one is. The fact that you were 'butchered' by a 58 year old scratcher indicates to me that you are not much for research and wise decisions. But hey, good job attacking people on the Internet. I hope you feel better. Oh, PS. What the fuck does 'nice' fishnet look like?
Thursday, September 13, 2012 @12:24 a.m.
Ps; guess what happens when someone with a "high pain tolerance" flinches while you are making a line? BLOWOUTS. That's what. How's that palm tattoo looking these days? If it didn't hurt like a motherfucker, they didn't do it right, and I bet it looks like shit.
Thursday, September 13, 2012 @1:06 a.m.
You did fail to mention that you were initially thrilled with the results of the first session, thus stated in the email you sent to me. It was a day or two later your "former tattoo apprentice" expert eye critiqued the piece and resulted in a list of so called mistakes I was to correct on your unfinished tattoo. This expert eye of yours also describes medical bandages purchased from Stat Healthcare as puppy pee pads. But hey, you're the expert! You also failed to mention that your boyfriend asked me to have work done and expressed interest in booking an appointment. You also failed to mention how I don't refund deposits because that 100 is a small compensation for the time and effort I put into your drawing. Time that is after my shop hours away from my family. You also didn't mention that you changed your mind on the placement and the piece (which initially you wanted me to rework an Ozzie Perez original tattoo), because you had gained excess weight and didn't want your ribs tattooed. You also failed to mention how you had harassed me over email and told me if I didn't comply to your wishes you'd seek legal action, and I'd be sorry. You did a good job editing a few quotes I may have made over 10 or more emails into a couple sentences. Bottom line is I feel sorry for you that you won't have your tattoo finished. I feel sorry for you that you don't know the difference in speed and quality in tattooers work. I feel sorry for you that you can't read a drawing properly in its line stages and understand perspective. Which clearly your "apprentiship" should have afforded you. I believe the proper quote is "I smell a rat". That my dear is you.

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