How to Get Happier Tattoo Clients | Painful Pleasures Community

How to Get Happier Tattoo Clients

If you want to know how to get more tattoo clients.... this is the secret. Learn more about keeping your client list growing and happy.
by Danny Tress Last Updated: September 19, 2023

If you’re wondering how to get more tattoo clients… one key factor is making sure your existing clients are happy. Happy clients are essential to your livelihood. After all, happy clients can transform into repeat clients. And the more repeat clients you have, the more you’re in demand and booked. In fact, a lot of times, giving your clients a positive experience is more important than being a skilled artist. That’s largely because clients want to have positive memories associated with their tattoos. 

While 100% happy clientele isn’t guaranteed or always possible, you can come pretty damn close. Check out these must-have tips for preventing unhappy clients as best as possible. 


Tattoo artist and tattoo client discussing realistic expectations and taking notes 

Some artists skip this step, particularly if they have a client coming from out of state. But if that’s the case, it’s always worth making time for a Zoom call… particularly if you’re just starting out. If you’re just starting out and don’t have any social clout just yet, it’s even more important that you establish trust with new clients. A consultation is one of the best times to do that. 

If you’ve already got plenty of repeat clients booking up your calendar, a Zoom call can be hard to work in. But with a manager or AI software to handle your appointments, it’s much more convenient to schedule consultations. Check out our blog on using AI for management here. 


The consultation is a great place to start setting realistic expectations. But you can continue to establish clear expectations through the whole process. Setting realistic expectations is all about being honest and upfront. Here are a few ways you can prepare your clients for what they can expect: 

First, be honest about ideas, design elements, or size requests that won’t work. If you agree to a tattoo design that won’t translate well to the skin, you’re setting your client up for disappointment. So, make sure your client knows what’s doable. Work and compromise with them to create a stencil that meets their needs and works dynamically in terms of size, placement, and design. 

Second, showcase a portfolio that shows how your work will heal. You can do this in two ways.


  1. Don’t overly doctor your photos on Instagram. Make sure they’re visible and clear, but don’t Photoshop them so much that they look radically different from the real thing. You should also try to get healed photos of your work whenever possible. Some clients are happy to send you healed shots that you can showcase on your social media. Check out these tips for your best Insta photos with iconic black and gray realism artist Kasey “Gonzo” Gonzalez.  
  2. Make that portfolio ZESTY. By that, we mean… use A Pound of Flesh tattooable canvases. APOF offers plenty of 3D practice skins that you can use to create a 3D portfolio. Moreover, APOF canvases are designed to imitate human skin as much as possible. So, not only will you get an authentic practice experience. You’ll also show your clients what your work looks like on “real skin” firsthand. 


Tattoo artist and tattoo client going over different stencil options 

Setting realistic expectations doesn’t mean you should outright reject every idea your client presents. But if you want to know how to get more tattoo clients… it all begins with being honest. Even if you know an idea or design won’t work, you can find ways to compromise with your client. After all, your work is going to be on their body for life (unless they laser it off, which you don’t want!)

For instance, if your client wants a phoenix tattoo with lots of small details like plumage, small feet, flames, and flourishes… but they also want it to be small, candor can help them change their mind. Tell them how poorly the tattoo will heal if all those design elements are incorporated into too small of a stencil.

From there, you can compromise with them to either: A. reduce the number of details on the phoenix tattoo B. increase the size of the tattoo to make space for all those details or C. achieve a combination of options A and B.  

Oftentimes, if you communicate clearly and professionally without being combative, the client is willing to listen and make compromises. You’re the expert after all. And it’s clearer you’re the expert when you’re an effective communicator.


Tattoo artist being warm and inviting to his tattoo client

This piece of advice is especially important if you’re a shop owner who wants to know how to get more tattoo clients. You call the shots for your shop’s overall aesthetic. Attractive wall colors, eye-catching flash sheets and wall art, and a comfortable waiting area are all crucial to making your client feel welcome and at home. However, if you’re an artist, you still have control over the look of your workstation… which, obviously, is where the client will be spending most of their time. Aside from comfortable seating for the client, a clean, organized workstation that has a little pizazz and personality goes a long way. It makes the client feel like they’re in a homier environment rather than a clinical one. 

However, creating an inviting atmosphere isn’t just about the look of your shop. It’s also about interpersonal communication. If you’re a shop owner, make sure the person(s) at your front desk is charismatic, friendly, professional, and kind. If you’re an artist, be friendly and personable with your clients. If you’re stand-offish or unapproachable, your client is less likely to return for more work. In fact, a personable connection can make a more lasting impression than your work.


Tattoo client happily getting a tattoo wiped on her upper right arm

Ok, obviously tattooing can hurt like hell. Some clients have a high pain tolerance and sit like a champ while others flinch the second your needles touch their skin. 

No matter your client’s reaction, make sure they’re comfy as possible during procedures. We mentioned comfortable seating in the last section, but that’s only part of the equation. Offer regular check-ins, even if your client is sitting like a champ—sometimes, they’re too shy to admit they’re not loving life! If they voice discomfort, allow them to reposition themselves, get up and stretch their legs, or have a drink of water. In particular, offer your clients regular breaks during longer sessions. Give them the chance to walk around, reset, and come back fresh for the remainder of the piece. 

Aside from these courtesies, being kind and attentive contributes a lot to your client’s comfort levels. The more comfortable they are with you, the more likely they are to voice when they need a break. And again, a client who has a comfortable experience with an empathetic artist is much more likely to return. 


Want to make your client happy while also getting more money out of every appointment? Welp, this tip is critical. Be sure to offer and upsell aftercare at the end of every tattoo. 

For clients, this demonstrates that you care about their recovery and aftercare process. They’ll trust your opinion and rely on you as someone who’s there for every step of the process. 

For you, this ensures two things: 1. You’re not sending clients out the door to spend their money on inferior aftercare from CVS or Walgreens. 2. You’re giving clients a quality aftercare experience that yields high-quality healed results.  

If your client has better-healed results, they’ll be happy to come back for more work. Plus, they might send you healed shots of their work for your Insta portfolio. 


Tattoo artist and tattoo client chatting about expectations for a tattoo

Mistakes can happen to the best of us. What’s important is that you address the mistake the second it happens. Then you can work with your client to rectify it. They might not be happy you made a mistake in the first place, but your candor (and your ability to fix the problem) will help your image tremendously. The alternative is tattooing through the mistake and playing it off like it never happened at all. This is risky because the client might very well notice the mistake you tried to silently cover up… which can lead to subsequent complaints about the shop and your skills. You especially don’t want complaints like that on social media or in a Yelp review. 

So, be honest even when it’s tough! Mistakes can always be covered up and fixed.


Put all these tips into practice and you’re sure to start building a repeat-client list for a fuller calendar. Of course, your skills as an artist are also critically important. So stay tuned to our blog page for more tips on bettering your skills with high-quality supplies. 

Comments are closed here.

Follow us @ Instagram