TOWARDS A CLIENT CENTRIC PRACTICE
In a world dominated by unhinged capitalism, characterized by cut throat competition, production and profits over people and the planet, unlimited and unsustainable growth patterns, rampant and unnecessary consumerism, it's no wonder so many people seem to share some sense of depravity within certain aspects of their lives. Largely reduced to wage slaves and consumers, we only seem to matter insofar as our consent and consumption habits can be manipulated and manufactured through a constant onslaught of advertising gimmicks and the appeal of scarcity by companies of which the only bottom line is profits.
At times the globalized crises we face seems so disempowering that all hope for a better future seems lost. Sometimes, to say it simply, it seems all too obvious that we're fucked, and in no small way. Yet, despite everything, life is so exhilarating and full of potential at this junction of history in the making, this liminal we seem to exist within. In an unstable world where nothing is guaranteed, possibility awaits us with open arms.
In the face of this triumph of tragedy I ask myself daily what I can do to change the world for the better. How I can inspire within the sphere of my influence, and how I might navigate the inner workings of a capitalist system while maintaining as much integrity as possible in conjunction with my ideals without succumbing to the ideology of lifestylism. I've come to understand that every small act has the potential for an expansive impact far beyond the reaches of its initial intention. One method I've found useful is working towards the creation and maintenance of a client centric practice within my tattooing career.
I love tattooing, and I don't say that lightly. This love is genuine and heartfelt. I ache and yearn for it when I am away and feel a rekindled fire when I'm back at it. Tattooing fulfills many desires I've retained throughout my life and I cherish and adore it beyond what mere words are capable of communicating. I am also very aware that none of it is possible without the support of my clients. My clients allow me to pursue this dream, and without them I have nothing. I owe each and every client the debt of my gratitude for helping me to make this dream a reality. Thank you so very much.
Fortunately with tattooing I am blessed with the ability to enter into relationships with many people from all walks of life. As a social being I absolutely love this aspect of my work. This, coupled with my perspective of the world, presents many opportunities to offer and gain insight towards revolving my work around the people I am working in collaboration with to create a piece of art adorned on their skin. My intention is to elevate us both above the stale producer/consumer roles and to instead find common ground, mutuality, and connection where there is one to be made.
I pay attention to a clients story behind their tattoo idea, not just the idea itself. I try to pick up on subtleties and ask the right questions so that I have a better understanding of the meaning behind their tattoo. I then attempt to create a piece of art that doesn't just show off my abilities, or style, or signature moves, or whatever else puts the focus on myself, but rather exemplifies to the utmost extent possible the story my client is trying to tell the world. It's their tattoo after all, and while I am both flattered and honored when a client gives me complete creative control and just simply wants my art, it is heartwarming to be able to offer a piece of art the represents the client and their story first and foremost.
This also extends to the atmosphere in which the work is done. I want my clients to feel comfortable in the environment in which they are getting tattooed. Their experience is what matters above all else, and while I can't please everyone all of the time, I do my best to make concessions where possible. From the moment they enter the shop I want them to feel welcomed, to sense that they are in a safe place and to feel good about being there. From checking in with the front desk staff, to interacting with the other artists, to hanging out in my booth for a few hours, I want them to cherish the experience and to want to come back.
I welcome suggestions and look for hints as to how one might feel more relaxed and comfortable. I try to balance the needs of my clients with the reality that I also need to feel content in my work environment. I do what I can to create a space that is accommodating, from the privacy and color scheme of my booth, to its decor, to the gentle and patient approach I take during the tattoo process. It might be as simple as using a softer paper towel during the procedure, or playing less jarring music. Maybe it's warming my green soap wash while tattooing more sensitive areas of the body, or touching the area I am about to tattoo with my stretching hand first, then easing the needles back into the skin rather than just going at it full force without warning. Sometimes it's a game of twenty questions to get to know someone, or maybe it's silence if they prefer. At times I play the role of a therapist and other times I seek a little guidance myself. It might look like checking in occasionally to see if they need a break for anything, or maybe offering to buy lunch or take them out to dinner on those full day sessions. Whatever it takes, within my abilities, to show my clients that they are not just an avenue to generate income.
Tattooing is more than just branding, catchy marketing quips, fancy technical abilities, fame and fortune. It's more than the latest trending design fads and who's who on the TV networks. It doesn't matter how many awards you've won, who you know on the inside, the places you've travelled to or the industry big shots you've met. It's largely about respect. Respect for the history of tattooing which has paved the way towards the current manifestation of it all, respect for yourself so that you can be your best with every procedure, respect for your co-workers, fellow tattooers and the industry at large, and most of all a respect for your clientele who make it all possible. Without that respect, all we have is a hollowed and degraded ghost of a facade posing as success. Unfulfilling, unappreciated, and without merit. I won't allow myself to succumb to such depravity. My tattooing and my clients are worth so much more than this and I intend to make every effort towards a client centric practice. Care to join me?