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    Tattoo Artists Are Sharing Stories About Their Worst “Tattoo Virgins,” And I’m Simultaneously Cringing And Cracking Up

    "On the third line, I hear a weird little low-pitched moan and look up. His head flipped back as the rest of him followed."

    There's a difference in wanting a tattoo and being ready for a tattoo. And no one knows that better than tattoo artists.

    Recently, u/ArthurThyKing asked, "Tattoo Artists, who was your worst 'tattoo virgin?'" They got so many responses, and, somehow, they're even worse than you'd imagine. Just take a look for yourself:

    1. "I had a 19-year-old lad in the studio. He wanted 'Laura' in large letters on his forearm. I took my time to quiz him, and it turns out Laura was his sweetheart. I also spent a LONG time explaining that tattoos are for life, and girlfriends come and go. He remained adamant and explained that if I didn't do it, he had a friend with a 'tattoo gun' who would. So I did it, wrapped it up, and explained aftercare. As he left I checked the time, and I had 22 minutes until my next client. My next client turned up on time, followed less than a minute later by Mr. Lover Boy. Apparently, he'd met Laura, who instantly dumped him for being so fucking stupid."

    "It would appear she wasn't as in love with him as he assumed. Twenty-two minutes from tattoo to requesting a cover-up." —u/AcanthocephalaOk3991

    2. "I had a customer who wanted a little watermelon slice on his thigh. Cool, it'd take five to 10 minutes — nice and easy for a first tattoo. Nope. On the third line, I hear a weird, little low-pitched moan. I looked up, and his head flipped back as the rest of him followed. When he woke up on the floor to three guys trying to pull him back up, he said something along the lines of, 'WTF? Why are you touching me? That’s gay.'"

    "It's been like three to four years since then, and he still hasn’t come back to get it finished." —u/Eastern-Meringue9570

    3. "I had a client who got a Jesus fish with Greek letters on his chest. I put the stencil on, and the guy looks down and says, 'Looks good.' He sits like a CHAMP through his entire first tattoo. I finish up after about 45 minutes, and he checks it out in the mirror. Immediately, he goes pale, starts to sweat, and sits down. The dude looks at me, all shook, and says, 'It’s BACKWARDS!' I look at his tattoo and him on the floor, look at the mirror, and tell the guy, 'I’m going to take a photo of it for you to see because you don’t know how mirrors work.'"

    "A couple of minutes go by as I’m handing the dude paper towels. He then stands up all quick and tries to play it off like he was just messing with me — even though, for a minute there, there was a corpse on my studio floor." —u/tattoosbyjerad

    4. "It's this girl’s first tattoo and my first paying customer (after my apprenticeship.) She wants a star outline on the side of her heel below the ankle. She’s a bit nervous, so I allow two of her friends to come into the room with us. I start the tattoo and, immediately, she jerks away super hard. I warn her not to do that and try to relax. We start again and she jerks her foot. The two lines I’ve done now look like SHIT, and I’m already pissed and freaking out inside. I get her two friends to help hold down her foot and she continues to jerk around and at one point kicks me right in the jaw."

    "Needless to say, her tattoo looked like shit, and I was crestfallen. I called my mentor after work, crying that I ruined my first tattoo on a client and she kicked me in the face. He said, 'Wait, what? Nah, fuck that, it’s not your fault. I’ll see you tomorrow at work.' 

    I've been tattooing for 13 years now and still love every minute! I've got way crazier stories under my belt since that kick in the face." —u/ginger_wahine

    5. "We had a couple come in on the day we did $100 two-by-two-inch tattoos. They both were getting these small triceratops outline tattoos behind their ears. It was nothing too crazy or detailed, so it'd take maybe 15 minutes each in the chair at most. The guy is losing his mind. He's hyperventilating, laughing, jumping up and down, and yelling questions at all of us — visually very nervous. He tells one of our apprentices that this is his first tattoo and keeps asking them how badly it hurts. Turns out, it was this couple's first date. He had told her he was impulsive, and she tried to call his bluff by suggesting they get matching tattoos."

    "The owner had even gone into the back and grabbed an ammonia packet, worried the guy would pass out the second needle touched skin. To his credit he got the tattoo and didn't pass out. Paid for them both, too!" —u/Hellcathowl

    6. "I had a 30-something-year-old tattoo virgin who wanted a half-sleeve of Hello Kitty riding a dragon. When I began tattooing, she heavily praised my tattoos and style. But during a break, my workmate told me that they'd had a smoke with her outside, and she was upset. She'd complained it wasn't hurting and that her skin wasn't irritated, and she didn't want to pay since it wasn't being done properly. So when we came back, I was overly reassuring, letting her know why I was using certain inks that she'd insisted were 'too light' as they'd heal exactly how she wanted. That night, I got a two-paragraph email about how much of a shit job I did. I replied that the tattoo would heal as planned. She sent another paragraph on how I should listen to my clients' wishes. I didn't reply. Two weeks later, she emailed me saying she loves her tattoo, it healed perfectly, the pink was the right shade, and that she wants to finish it up."

    "My workmates and I call her 'the Hello Kitty lady.' I specialize in Japanese tattoos, and during the initial consultation, she expressed how much she loved my style of Japanese dragons. So I thought, 'Sick, I can smash this dragon out the park and just put a Hello Kitty on it.' Easy peasy.

    While I did the tattoo, she was talking loudly — which I took as her being understandably nervous — so my workmates could easily hear her. We began by talking about how much we both love art. She was super friendly, and we had been hitting it off. So my workmate's conversation with her caught me off-guard.

    In my email back to her, I added that the changes she wanted — like Hello Kitty's paw prints, which were part of the original design she approved — were easily fixable since I gray-lined them.

    Anyway, I didn't end up finishing it up for her. I basically told her I felt uncomfortable that I wasn’t going to meet her expectations — and purposely worded it that way. In reality, I wanted nothing to do with her. I was wondering whether I was being a dick, but I even felt uncomfortable emailing her. She also never apologized or acknowledged her behavior." —u/XavYoung

    7. "At the expense of my very good client, I generally use this story to help newbs ease into my chair more comfortably. So, it was his first tattoo. I was getting my stencil prepped, and he was so nervous that he was basically white. I kept asking if he was good. Yeah, he tells me, he's okay. When I placed the stencil on him, I asked him to take a look. He looked at his arm and immediately passed out. He was sliding out of the chair. We got him back up, and he came to."

    "He got over it, eventually, and has his sleeve. 👌" —u/THE_ENDR-

    8. "My friend was an artist at the shop we worked at and had a girl come in, no ink. She wanted to get (no joke) 'Daddy's Girl' as a tramp stamp. She was in tears moments into the tattoo — like hysterical shit. She suffered through, all together, probably 25 minutes and walked out with 'Girl' right above her waistline."

    "Ten out of ten, hilarious." —u/GhostAnon

    9. "This isn't the worst client but an unfortunate event. The apprentice at my shop — who had only been tattooing for a little under a year — was tattooing this girl's wrist. It was her first tattoo, the word 'undefeated.' The tattoo goes smoothly and she likes it. Then she walks to the lobby to show her dad, and he likes it. She comes back to get bandaged up, and, as as the apprentice is explaining aftercare, she blacks out. She falls back, hits her head on a giant painting hanging on the wall, causing it to fall, and glass breaks. He runs over, picks her up, and checks the back of her head only to realize a giant piece of glass had punctured her shoulder. An EMT comes and tells her she needs stitches. She wasn’t the worst, but it was an incredibly unfortunate experience for both of them — it was his first time having someone pass out and her being 'defeated.'"

    "The EMT ended up taking her to the ER, where she got six stitches. The next week, the girl brought the apprentice a giant tub of cookies." —u/tattoocaleb

    10. "I'm a receptionist at a pretty popular tattoo shop in my town. I've seen quite a few people who had no business getting tattooed, but, by far, my favorite was this one guy who wanted to get some script tattooed behind his ear. He had come in before to get priced out but absolutely refused to make an appointment and drop a deposit. He came back a few days later as a walk-in, so we squeezed him in that day. He was a mess getting done — shaking, sweating, and basically crying in the chair. The tattoo itself took maybe 15 minutes. Well, the reason this dude refused to put a deposit down was that he planned on leaving without paying. As soon as the artist put Saniderm on his tattoo, he jumped out of the chair and bolted for the front door. He promptly passed out as he ran through the lobby. He ended up breaking his nose as he hit the ground, and we called the cops."

    "The best part was watching this dude cry like a baby because he was just a few days from getting out of the military, and local PD notified his command. Best shift ever." —u/pieceoffabric

    11. "My tattoo artist had a woman come in with her boyfriend to get her first tattoo. The lady screamed after the needle first came down and told her boyfriend that she was going to have to bite him to cope with the pain. She chomped on his arm the whole time while moaning and screaming."

    "My artist told me she thinks it was some weird kink thing that she did not consent to participate in." —u/Val1795

    12. "In ‘99-00, I'd been tattooing for a year. A lady in her forties comes in for her first tattoo, a butterfly on her shoulder blade. She was pretty haggard and had her 16-year-old son with her. We get about 20 minutes into what should be a 45-minute tattoo, and she says she needs a break. I was pretty green, so I stepped out for a smoke. When I came back, she was standing up, bent 90° forward at the waist, with her face on my workstation. She’s standing in a puddle of her own urine, passed out — leaning forward with enough weight on her face to keep her from falling. Fortunately, she’s wearing a skirt, so her clothes weren't soaked. She comes to and goes to the bathroom to clean up. During those 20 minutes, I mopped my floor. She then comes out and says, 'Don’t worry, I cleaned the bathroom.' What would require cleaning? She wants to finish the tattoo, so I start again. Five minutes in, I notice something on the outside of her knee. It’s a little chunk of shit."

    "I’m thinking, 'How does that even happen?' As I look away, I see her 16-year-old son just noticed it, too. He looked at me and then at the floor for the remainder of the tattoo. I decide not to say anything, partially to save her kid more embarrassment. He was already frozen in his chair and didn't say a word after she passed out. 

    Anyway, I wrap it up, get paid, get her out of there, and proceed to the bathroom to see what she did to it. The bathroom had a urinal and two separate stalls. There were circular shit smears over the entire floor, and shitty toilet paper in both toilets — like she blew up right inside the door and got down on her knees in a desperate attempt to clean it up. That must’ve been how she got the turd on the knee.

    I’m still curious how it ended up on the outside of the knee. I’m still curious if she ever noticed it there. And I’m still amazed that I didn’t quit tattooing right then and there. Now, I'd just tell her to come back another day, but I was pretty new and wanted to finish, get paid, and get her the hell out." —u/willieyobslayer

    13. "A young lady wanted a semicolon tattoo on her wrist — about 1x2 inches, black ink. I had the stencil ready to go before she even came in. I was expecting a 15-minute job, so I gave her a cheap quote. She turns up, very nervous, for her appointment. I do my 'It's about as painful as a cat scratch, nothing to panic about!' speech, and she informs me that she's already taken a strong painkiller and would like the specialist numbing spray. Okay, that's an extra £30. She agrees. The spray goes on, stencil goes on — we're ready. I don't even make contact with her skin before she starts making a very loud, high-pitched whine. I try to calm her down and tell her to take a few minutes but 99% of the time, the anxiety of getting a tattoo is usually worse than getting one. After an hour, I told her I was expecting another client and she could reschedule if she wanted. She just bolts out the door — didn't even pay for the numbing spray."

    "Bear in mind, the parlour at the time had four other artists, all with customers, all staring at her. She just kept putting it off. She'd say okay, I'd turn on the gun, and she'd freak out again. To this day, I can't quite believe how dramatic she made the whole thing." —u/CrazySnekGirl

    14. "I was a tattoo apprentice, and this girl was getting a quarter-sized outline on her ankle. She lays down on the bed, and as soon as my machine starts, she screams — not a little yelp of surprise or gasp but a full-on scream. I immediately stop the machine and ask if she's okay. 'Yeah, I'm fine, it's just a scary noise!' Okay, I understand, it's loud and intense. As soon as I turn it on again, she screams. My nerves are shot, my heart's pounding, and I'm now telling her that she shouldn't get tattooed today. 'No, it's fine, just tattoo me through it!' Alright. I turn on the machine (cue a small shriek) and go to make one line. She immediately squirms across the table, yanking her foot away. This back and forth ensued for another 20 minutes. After half-standing to hold down her foot, I make a little line, the size of a sewing stitch in a jacket. She bursts into tears, and I entirely give up on the whole tattoo."

    "I'd go to tattoo her, and she'd scream and writhe on the bed, physically wrenching her body away from me. But she'd argue with me, 'Just do it,' 'I can handle it,' 'I don't want to leave without a tattoo.'

    I told her she clearly wasn't ready, it's not a big deal, and she can just come back to finish it another time. So I bandage it up (it's still a wound, after all), and she goes on her way. The whole thing was excruciating.  Ironically, she did come back and get it finished a few weeks later with minimal fuss.

    Getting tattooed (even a little one) can be terrifying, and I don't want to diminish anyone's anxiety. A permanent change to your body is always a big deal. However, in this case, she seemed to be playing it up for the friend she brought with her. He'd step into the front room to check his phone, then she'd start to really act up and look over to see if he noticed.

    My mentor was with me during this whole process, and she was trying to let me handle it on my own, but she actually stepped in towards the end to tell my client that I could not tattoo her with her behaving this way. I was so new that it didn't occur to me I could refuse to keep going. I also suspect that that's why she came back and got it with no big deal; I insisted that she come alone." —u/deadwittingly

    15. "A friend who had never had a tattoo before wanted one on her ankle and was adamant about that. I told her several times that the ankle is a very not-fun location and asked her if maybe she’d prefer the shoulder instead. She insisted on the ankle. Okay, then. The moment the needle touched her, she hollered. I asked, 'You sure you want to keep going?' She said yes. That was the loudest appointment I ever had."

    "To her credit, she made it through." —u/Odeiminmukwa

    16. "Danny was a 21-year-old oil field worker. He wanted an entire sleeve tattoo but couldn't decide what he wanted. He'd come in for a consult, the artist would draw what he wanted, and then he'd change his mind. He also couldn't remember the names of the animal he wanted. He first asked for a lion 'pack' roaring on a mountain under the moon. 'Like the end of Lion King?' 'Yes.' The next time he came in, he said the animal was wrong. When he showed a picture, it was a wolf pack. The artist drew that, but then Danny came back and wanted an 'eagle in flight.' The artist drew that, but Danny, in fact, wanted an owl. The artist was basically done with Danny, but he drew an amazing owl in flight. Danny loved it. A date was selected, but Danny never showed. A half an hour past his appointment, the artist called Danny, who said, 'Sorry, I'm out of the country today. I'm in North Dakota.' The artist is based in Arizona."

    "The artist, my friend, never saw or heard from him again. My friend ended up putting that owl on a coworker of his that loved the drawing." —u/amalgamas

    17. "When I was apprenticing in a college town, this girl came in with her boyfriend for a traditional butterfly above her elbow. I lay her down on her stomach with her arm bent at her side. Within 10 minutes, she starts getting a string of texts from her friends, telling her they’re essentially ousting her from their group and not to contact them again. Obviously, she’s upset. As she’s relating all this to her BF, she starts crying, then full-on sobbing. I asked if she wanted to stop but she insisted on continuing, and I felt too awkward to counter. She sobbed for another hour while I just kept plugging away. She cried so much that her tears had gathered where her arm was pressed against the table and started to spill into my lap. Now, I’m uncomfortable and damp. THEN, within 30 minutes of finishing, she begins whimpering and moaning loudly. She proceeds to tell her BF, 'This is more intense than anal,' and I wanted to die."

    "I was still super new, so it took me way longer than it should have — maybe two hours. As soon as I finished and checked her out, my coworkers (who had all been waiting on me to close) were like, 'What the actual fuck was going on, and why did you keep going?' In the moment, all I could think was to finish the tattoo ASAP.

    To her credit, she came back (a year later!) and told me she had been too embarrassed to come back but loved the butterfly and wanted another tattoo from me. Her second session was pleasant and without incident." —u/More-Presentation-52

    18. "This girl comes in to get her ex-boyfriend's name tattooed as a tramp stamp. She brings her friends and proceeds to scream throughout the process of doing the outline, then she leaves with a half outline of her ex's name."


    19. "When we still had flash all over the walls, this 18-year-old kid and his dad came in. The kid was the one getting tattooed and settled on this hideous, ICP-esque creepy clown. The moment needle touched skin, it was like tattooing a bucking bronco. The kid didn't have the best hygiene, so when he started sweating, it stunk up the whole shop. Not to mention, the kid was moaning like he was getting fucked. It was terrible. The tattoo was supposed to be full color, but two minutes in, I knew he'd never make it. I finished the outline and told him we'd do the color another day. He agreed, and I wrapped him up, half-expecting him to never come back. Surprisingly, he did and sat so much better that time. We took a break about halfway through, and he said he was going to grab a soda. He never came back."

    "The weirdest thing was that he'd already paid in full, so it's not like he ripped me off or anything. I always wondered about that, it was so strange. The flash he picked was also spectacularly gnarly, we're talking that old, cherry creek flash. I redrew it to at least correct some things I felt needed correcting and stenciled it onto his stomach.  

    As for his stench, that takes some doing since the smell of green soap and weed are not easily overpowered. The apprentice ran the sink, poured bleach down the drain, and opened the windows to tame the smell. 

    But right off the bat, they were definitely weird. The dad was looking through the flash and giggling. My coworker asked if he can help him, and he said, 'There are drawings of naked ladies here!' Imagine my joy when the dad lit up when I said I'd be tattooing his kid and creepily said, 'Oh! A female tattooist!'" —u/IrozI

    20. "This guy had a few small tats on his arms — nothing crazy — and wanted a pretty large tribal chest piece, collarbone to collarbone. He was also one of the 'I watch UFC and wear Tapout, don't fuck with me' types. He was told that we recommended a couple of sessions because it was going to hurt. This is A LOT of outline and A LOT of shading. He insisted no, he could sit. He ended up fainting toward the end of his outline."

    "I worked there for roughly a year after and he never came back to get it finished." —u/GhostAnon

    21. "I had a 16-year-old girl come in. She wanted a tattoo of a rose on the side of her neck. Now, I'm not going to even entertain a neck tattoo for a teenager, but she didn't even bother to bring a parent with her to sign. She got upset and made a scene, and I told her to leave. After a lot of arguing, she made some idle threats and left. The following week, an incredibly angry, middle-aged woman comes barging into the shop, screaming that she's going to have us shut down and sent to jail. Apparently, her daughter had gone out and gotten a neck tattoo without her knowledge. It was around then that I recognized the girl from the week before peaking in our front windows. It all clicked. She'd found some sketchy artist in a kitchen to tattoo the rose on her neck that I said no to. I told the mother to call her daughter in, and her daughter pointed to me and told her I did it."

    "The tattoo was terribly done, to say the least, so the mom definitely had several reasons to be so livid. She started getting upset again and yelling again. I let her yell until she had calmed down enough to listen. Then, I explained to her how, the week before, I had told her daughter outright that I wouldn't give her a neck tattoo. Her daughter screamed that I was a liar and Mom started up with another round of yelling, this time about how I was calling her daughter a liar.

    It was around this time that I just decided to point to our CCTV camera in the front area. I told her if she would like to, she could review the footage of me denying her daughter, the temper tantrum, and then her daughter leaving the shop. Her daughter started looking pretty nervous around this time, but she didn't say anything. Meanwhile, I find the footage from the day, and Mom watches the entire interaction that I described go down.

    Then with the coldest look of anger, betrayal, and disappointment, she turns to her daughter. She takes her outside of the shop quietly and then screams at her for everything that has just happened and how humiliating it all has been. After a bit, the daughter comes in and gives me a very sarcastic apology, and then leaves. Aside from one or two exceptions, I haven't tattooed any minors for the last 13 years now." —u/Ghonaherpasiphilaids

    Did you cringe or laugh more? And, do you have your own worst "tattoo virgin" story to tell? Let us know in the comments below!