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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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Sunday, October 21, 2012 @12:30 p.m.
hey temperance.....in your original story you said that the outline took a little over two hours...then in one of your sidebar comments you said you left early after an hour and fifteen mins....maybe you should fact check and get your story straight before you slander someone on the internet from the safety of your computer...you are a coward...Im sure your "apprenticeship" consisted of reruns of miami ink and tlc's tattoo school
Sunday, October 21, 2012 @7:28 p.m.
Temperance: As has already been said, it's really a shame you've chosen to react in such a petty way and as a result, most likely having an unfinished tattoo for the rest of your life. An even bigger shame is how you've chosen to express your distaste with the IN PROGRESS tattoo, by slandering and lashing out at one of western Canada's best artists. I could say a million things that have already been said by those who have posted in defense of Karrie's art, character, and professionalism, but you've clearly already chosen your stance and methods. I've now seen the picture of the piece in question, and I'm my mind is now even more boggled by this post. Anyone out there would be more than fortunate to wear a piece half as good as the finished product would've been. I've been tattooed twice by Karrie and both times were a genuine pleasure. I wouldn't be planning more work with her in the future if that weren't the case. The phrase "you give a little, you get a little" definitely rings true with her. Give a shit about the art, the process, about VOICING YOUR CONCERNS (if any) AND ADDING TO THE PROCESS, and I'm sure you'll find the end result to be that much more fulfilling to both yourself and the artist. Best of luck with any future pieces, and the slandering of those undeserving of it.
Monday, October 22, 2012 @2:49 a.m.
should we record an applause for your outstanding effort to contact all your friends to comment here? my backpiece is PHENOMINAL, my armpit to my knee I had done a couple months ago and the linework is FLAWLESS, and the color stunning. just started a piece from my hip to my ankle and there isnt a single out of place or blown out line. I had a bad experience and I shared it, thats the beauty of freedom of speech. the fact that this has really bothered you this bad just proves my point more. go ahead and show people the pictures you took with your phone since you didn't have your camera that day, it wont show anything of what i am talking about and you know that because thats how artists hide mistakes. showing the BIG picture and not looking at individual piece of the tattoo. I didn't get to continue because of a car accident, you know, the one i have mentioned more than once(in your chair and in these comments), but that doesn't affect my attention to detail or my love of art... or all my post secondary education in fine arts. time to get over your ego and focus on the clientele you have and not the ones you've lost. I have made MANY FRIENDS by sharing this experience, and have now seen some of your work up close :) just wish i had seen them BEFORE getting under your needle. everyone has a bad day here and there... most artists dont let it get under their skin like you....
Monday, October 22, 2012 @2:57 a.m.
I'm not claiming to be a tattooing expert in any way, shape, or form. Nor am I calling the artist out on her tattoo, as frankly how the hell would I know anything about her work? I stated in my post that I certainly hope Temperance learned a lesson from this. My only issue with the artist is her response. I do think the original post was pretty harsh, but I do not, and never will, think that this kind of response from a professional is okay. She clearly has some kind of credibility amongst her peers and customers. To me, responding in the manner she did takes away a good amount of that credibility, and just makes her sound defensive. Yeah, of course you react a certain way when you read such harsh and defamatory statements about your work -- but you wait, until you can respond in a civil manner. Not only does that get the message across better, it preserves the integrity of your business. Like I said, as off-putting as the original post was to me, the way I saw the artist and her friends reacting was equally off-putting. If she really wanted to make Temperance look like a particularly insane customer, she would have been better off responding in a different way.
Monday, October 22, 2012 @3 a.m.
Guess I should clarify a previous statement: when I said in my first comment that you're left with a "pissed off customer walking around with a permanent ad for how terrible you are", i'm not necessarily saying the tattoo is terrible per se. I'm saying that you have someone who is upset, who is gonna be letting everyone know loud and clear just how unhappy she is about the tattoo...regardless of whether it is "bad" or not.

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