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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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Saturday, October 20, 2012 @1:10 p.m.
All I have to say is I am getting a sleeve done by karrie right now. Yesterday was my first session. I am extremely happy with her work. She is super quick and zero flaws in the line work. Like the sign in her bathroom says "lighten the fuck up"
Saturday, October 20, 2012 @5:57 p.m.
I got tattooed by Karrie last weekend for the first time in Calgary. I drove eight hours...(as if that matters) due to the fact that I love her work. What she had already drawn up was not exactly what I had in mind, so I told her that and with out complaint she changed it to something I absolutely loved. She was not overly heavy handed at all, compared to the other 8 artist I have work from, including Chris David, Jamer and Ryan Halter. It was actually just what you would expect from a great, experienced tattooer. Its a week old at this point with no shaky lines, blowouts or even minor mistakes and healing perfectly. I was completely shocked at how little she charged for my beautiful tattoo, I would not have blinked if she had asked double what I paid. All and all I can not wait to get another piece from Karrie. My experience with Karrie, and Blackbird in general was a super positive one. Thanks again Karrie. See you soon.
Saturday, October 20, 2012 @7:47 p.m.
To see the initial pic taken of her tattoo after the first session please visit my blog www.karriearthurs.blogspot.ca. It's under the post titled "in times of need we ask for help". Sorry I haven't be able to figure out how to post the pic here. This was the suggestion of BME editors who said ",you should submit it and then people could make their own conclusions based on your photo versus what she said. Neither of us understands what her problem is with the tattoo based on the photo."
Saturday, October 20, 2012 @10:30 p.m.
Karrie is a fantastic artist! I even signed up for an account here just to defend her work. I was first tattooed by her in Toronto at a convention. She finished a large piece on my thigh in under two hours. It turned out amazing. I was so pleased with my tattoo that I travelled all the way from Toronto to Calgary to get tattooed by her again. The two pieces that I got from her are my absolute favourites. My experiences have always been nothing but pleasant. I highly recommend her to anyone. She is not heavy handed at all, I was in such little discomfort I could have taken a nap. She is a super sweet, and even remembered me (a year after the fact) and asked me how my apprenticeship was going. I feel that this story was written out of spite and is overly exaggerated. There are too many holes in her story and the fact that she failed to post pictures of her "horrible" tattoo leave me very skeptical. After all if you are warning people, a picture is worth a thousand words. Also, if you failed to do your research, allowed yourself to get a tattoo of something you didn't like, didn't say anything while it was happening, then it's your fault you have a tattoo you are unhappy with. You shouldn't post a "sad" little story about how you were victimized with a horrible tattoo. Especially since the tattoo fundamentally/artistically is done very well. I can understand if you didn't like the style, but then again you would of had ample opportunity to make changes to the design if you weren't happy with it before it was etched permanently into your skin. It seems to me like this is just a case of someone who regrets a decision they've made and needed to place the blame on someone else. It's unfair for Karrie's reputation to be tarnished in such a way. Her work speaks for itself and is nothing but amazing.
heather mclean
Sunday, October 21, 2012 @12:29 a.m.
Hey Temperance. I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I know sometimes when we are mad it's all too easy to get it out online in a public forum instead of having a more humane discussion face to face. Now its turned into a war and that's a shame. I think anyone would feel defensive with how hostile your post (and response here) comes across. You said you didn't tell Karrie your thoughts on the tattoo because you didn't want to hurt her feelings, but then you go on a public forum and call it "horrid artwork" "ruined" skin, "a piece of shit" and a "shitty tattoo"? That's not sparing someone's feelings, that is cowardice and just plain mean. I just wanted to say a few things here to aid in any misinformation. BLOWOUTS. Blowouts can absolutely be caused by flinching. Know what else they are caused by? Nothing. I have been tattooing for 13 years and I still get blowouts, they just happen. I have tattoos by some amazing artists that have blow outs in them. Not a big deal. When you are working on a variable and biological canvas that moves, it just happens sometimes, and is not necessarily an indication of an artists' skill or lack thereof. I have seen the photo of your tattoo, and those lines look as slick as a greased beaver, baby. Karrie saying that any blowouts would be covered up and unnoticeable is totally legit, because by the time the tattoo is finished you don't see them anymore. And for the record, I have been tattooed by Karrie, and she wasn't any harder a tattooer than anyone else I've been tattooed by. I'm getting tattooed by her again soon and can't wait. We worked together for 2 years and she was very hardworking and always on time. Again, I'm sorry you came away from this with a bad taste in your mouth and a tattoo you don't love. Just go easy, eh? Reacting in rage and with hurtful words never got anyone too far. Thanks for hearing me. h

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