I got a phone call from a guy with a thick, Eastern European accent. He told me I had done a tribal tattoo on his friend that he really liked and asked if I could do one for him. I told him I sure could, and he asked how much it would cost.
"Well," I said, "that depends on what you're getting. If you're getting something small, it's cheaper than something big, but I can't give you a price until I see for sure what you're getting."
He thought for a second. "Well, how I can get some design?"
I told him, "Come into the shop, we have some stuff here, or you can go online and find something. Bring it in and then I can see what it is and how big, and then I can tell you how much."
"Can I give to you my cell number, and you can send some design to my smart phone?"
I was flabbergasted. Usually I have a smart-ass answer to everything, but this time I had nothing. There were a couple of seconds of me making some weird squeaking noise but no words were coming out at all. Finally I managed, "Dude, I'm not spending all day searching the internet for your tattoo and then sending you ideas. Take a look yourself. You just said you have a smart phone, go on Google and find something."
He sighed heavily. Apparently I had, once again, failed to deliver the stellar customer service that was expected of me by someone who wants their hand held and their ass wiped. "Okay," he grumbled. "I'll look myself."
A few weeks later he came in and mentioned the phone call. I recognized his voice immediately. He pulled up an image of a tribal on his phone and asked for a price. I told him it was gonna be about 400 bucks. He made an astonished face and quickly pulled up a second image. This one was even bigger, covering the upper arm, part of the chest and the back.
"Well, that one's bigger, that's gonna be even more than that other one," I cautioned, and he made the astonished face again. He flipped back to the first image and said, "So, this one is 400?"
"Yeah, that's gonna be 400."
"I talked to the girl in _________, and she said she could do this one for 250."
"Well, good luck with that," I said. He made astonished face for the third time. Many potential customers assume that if they threaten to go somewhere else, we'll fling ourselves at their feet, sobbing and begging them not to go, and that we'll do the tattoo for the same price or less than they got quoted elsewhere. I don't have a problem giving people a little break, but I'm not going to be held hostage by someone elses' flea market prices. Our answer to the bargain hunters is some variation of 'Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.' They can never understand that, they don't get why we're not pleading with them to stay and agreeing to work as cheap as the scratchers. Besides, I've been in this game for a while, and I learned very quickly that most people are bluffing anyhow. More often than not, they didn't even go to said shop, they're just fishing for bargains to see if we'll bite. I found this out when I'd have people saying they talked to So-And-So at Such-And-Such shop, when in fact I knew So-And-So, and I knew Such-And-Such shop would never do big work for peanuts. I think people don't realize that it is possible for people at 'competing' shops to still be friends, or for an artist to have worked at said 'competing' shop at one point and to be well aware of how the place operates. The funny thing is that this particular guy who said he got this bargain-basement price mentioned the name of the town, not the actual name of the shop, and I'm almost positive that town has no shops in it whatsoever.
So, he stared me down for a second, waiting for my tearful collapse on the carpet where I would beg him not to go. When he didn't get anything other than a smirk and a raised eyebrow, he tried again.
"I really don't want to pay that much."
"Cool, man, see ya, have a good night." I sat down at the computer and opened up my Facebook page.
Defeated, he left, and I was glad. That's the last thing I need, some lazy motherfucker who can't even be arsed to do a Google search for his own tattoo, then expects me to bust my ass tattooing half his torso for peanuts. I know, technology is making people lazy and stupid, I'm guilty myself. However, I wouldn't dream of calling up Amazon and telling them to find me some books and send them to my Kindle for me. For crying out loud, how is some kid at the service center supposed to know what I'd like? For all he knows, I'd really want Wuthering Heights but he'd send War And Peace and then I'd have to get all huffy about why he's not sending me 'what I want'. Really, people, technology is presenting us with a dizzying array of choices in just about all areas. It's overwhelming and it can be hard to make a choice. But at the end of the day, what you put on your body is YOUR choice. I can suggest and guide, but the idea has to start with you. I might not love your idea, but as long as it's going to heal well and the actual tattoo will not reflect poorly on me and/or the shop, then fuck it, I'll do it. It's my job, and that's my end of the bargain. Your end of the bargain is to know what you want and to do a little bit of homework. There's nothing in my job description about delivering your options to you. They're right there in your pocket, you don't even have to go home and sit down at a computer anymore to find something.
I was stunned that that dude actually made the trip down here and allegedly went to a second shop after acting like scrolling through images on his phone was a back-breaking ordeal. Good lord, his thumbs must be incredibly weak. I'm actually surpised he didn't ask on the phone if I'd come to his house and tattoo him instead of coming to the shop. Either way, he'd probably want help wiping his ass as well.