We wanted to talk a bit about “Guest Artists”. It occurred to us that many people may not know what this term means or why a shop would bring a guest artist in.
Guest artists are, just as the name says, tattooers who come to work in a shop for a short period upon the request of the shop. They usually guest at a shop for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
So why would a shop ask an artist to come and work with them for such a short time? Don’t they have artists of their own that need the business? Can I get tattooed by these people or do they only work on specific people? How can I trust them if they are new to my area? Does it cost more because they are from out of town?
Let me start by saying that a guest artist may be coming to a shop for many different reasons. They may have been asked to visit because they offer something special due to their skill or artistic style. Maybe they are friends with one of the tattooers at the shop, they may just be passing through town and contacted the shop to ask if they could work with them for a few days on their way through town. They may also have asked to guest at the shop because they want to study in the environment or study a particular style from artists that are on staff. Whatever the reason may be guest artists are often a misunderstood thing.
Speaking from our own perspective, most guest artists you will see coming through our shop are people we admire that bring a different style of art to our area. We bring them in because we want to give our clients the option to be tattooed by people who offer something unique.. At the same time we want our artists to be able to have outside influences that provide inspiration and practical tips to help us develop our skills. We see guest artists as a unique opportunity for our clients, friends, and employees to have new experiences and grow in their relationship with tattooing and what is available to them here in the Cincinnati area. So yes we all have artists who work with us on a daily basis that could certainly use the business. However, in our shop, our artists are always willing to sacrifice a little business for the opportunity to learn different techniques or even to just be able to tattoo with artists they admire.
Usually when a guest is coming into a shop, the shop will post advanced notice on their social media with examples of the artist’s work. You can book appointments ahead of time and converse with the guest tattooer through email or social media and discuss the piece you want. They may require a deposit to book an appointment or to start artwork for you. This is no different than how things would be handled in the shop where you normally get tattooed. If they have immediate openings after they arrive or if they have a cancellation, both the shop and tattooer will post this on their social media to try to fill the time for them.
When it comes to trust you can approach this the same as you would any other time you are considering a tattoo artist. Check portfolios, view their body of work and decide if they do the work that you want on you for the rest of your life. If they are being brought in by a shop that does work that you like then chances are they don’t suck.
Cost is always totally up to the artist. This is not something to be negotiated.. If you contact an artist that is being hosted at a shop near you and the rate that they give you is higher than you want to pay, please be respectful of them and their craft. DO NOT say things like “Woah you’re expensive” or “My normal dude could do that for $40” or “Shit I got my half sleeve done for $50 per hour”. If their rate is higher than you want to pay, simply tell them that you cannot afford that amount right now and that you appreciate their time. It’s never in good taste to be disrespectful to anyone in any profession. You could always lead in with the budget you have for a tattoo and see what they could make work within that budget. Keep in mind that a standard hourly rate for most tattooers sits between $100 to $150 per hour. It is not limited to that amount because many artists work at $200, $220, $250 and up. It simply depends upon what they believe their art and skill is worth.
Guest artists are a great way for your local shop to bring new and different talent to your area. The busier a guest is while at a shop, the more likely they are to want to come back. If you see a shop bringing an artist that you like, don’t be afraid to contact them and discuss a piece you want to have done. Even if you can’t afford it at the time, you may be able to set something up with them for a future guest spot.
Thanks for listening Y’all.
Get Up Tattoo Society