Because direct interaction with a client is central to service work, this relationship is, as discussed above, a major source of satisfaction and. as will be emphasized further in the following chapter, a generator of occupational problems. A variety of studies of client work involVing the sale of artistic skills or products with artistic features demonstrate that arts/crafts workers frequently have a rather negative view of their clientele/
The problems tattooists experience in their interaction with clients stem
from a variety of sources.
Tattooists. as we will see, simply attempt to do the best they can. They try to provide the best service possible by working around these problems or by being prepared to deal directly with them should they arise. The client problems that are most troublesome for and annoying to tattooists are those over which the customers can exercise overt control. Clients who choose to be disrespectful of the tattooist's expertise, refuse to abide by the rules of the house, are obviously intoxicated or high on drugs. or who do not display a minimal level of care for their personal hygiene are the source of the major problems tattooists encounter in their occupational lives.
Like many workers who provide an expert service, tattooists chafe under the
problem of haVing to deal with clients who are ignorant but demanding and who
evidence little respect for their
You have these morons who have absolutely no idea of
what is artistic
to have them sitting there telling you how things ought to
. Nothing galls me more than to be putting a piece on and have them
look at it and say, «That's enough shading:' I've done years in art school. If
it shouldn't really be that way I wouldn't have been doing it that way. One kid
came in last weekend and wanted a Tasmanian devil.
Another tattooist expressed his annoyance for problematic customers who displayed disrespect for his other clients, as well as the physical setting, and his own authority.
(I have problems with) people who come in and are really
belligerent. They don't respect. first of all. the situation
being the front of the studio. being the open area where people can move in and
out freely. The books areavailable to them
it's a public area. But that
public area should also be respected. So that putting your cigarettes out on
the rug, coming in and eating a sandwich and throwing your shit on the floor,
Don't be hassling the other customers. Sometimes I have guys and there will be a girl in there and they will be all over her. Hey baby, you going to get a tattoo on your tits? Then I have to go out there and lay down the law. The law is that this is an opportunity for you to express yourself in terms of a visual form. I would be glad to help you do that. But if you want to come in here and hassle people and don't know how to behave socially in this context, then you are going to have to leave. That's it. So then if they come up to me and they say, Well, I want you to do this. I say, Look at the designs, take your time, think about what you want to do. Well, I don't care, man. Get this guy out of here and take care of me. That kind of belligerent stuff. I just tell them, Look, I'm not going to tattoo you. I don't have to deal with you. Go someplace else. So I just nix it off before it even gets started. Although I have been caught up in situations where people have gotten to the next stage which is getting through (the next) door. I have thrown people out of here for not stopping at that door. That's the portal; the territorial limit.
Clients who enter the tattoo establishment while intOXicated or stoned also violate the practical rules imposed by the tattooist and are defined as problematic. Not only do these customers tend to be belligerent and disrespectful, but they also are difficult to tattoo because of their inab1l1ty to maintain the appropriate receiving demeanor demanded by tattooists. They move about, talk incessantly, jerk away in reaction to pain, spew vomit on the tattooist and his or her eqUipment, and generally make the tattooist's work more difficult and unpleasant.
There is a common perception among the general public that many
of the people who receive tattoos do so because they are drunk and pressured
into it by similarly intoxicated associates. Actually, most tattooists are
extremely careful to avoid working on people who are obViously under the
influence of alcohol (or other drugs). Drunken clients tend to generate
conflict in the shop, and tattooists are aware that tattooing someone who is
not entirely free to choose the procedure has the potential for causing
trouble. In a business that continues to labor under the reputation of being on
the margins of respectability, at best, this is to be avoided. Most shops have
a prominently located sign that states the cardinal rules of the
[Quote from fieldnotesl the artists get into talking about
how hard it is to work on drunks.
Some clients are defined as troublesome because they do not exercise an acceptable level of care over their personal hygiene. Working in close physical proximity with the client's body, the tattooist demands a certain minimal degree of cleanliness. Finally, customers who shop for tattoos solely on the basis of price (What can I get for $25?), complain about the cost of the piece they select, or attempt to bargain with the tattooist for a lower price are also negatively defined. These clients are seen as not being respectful of the tattooist's expertise or as not displaying sufficient commitment to tattooing