You’re Only Cool If I Am Too


After a hiatus of nearly a month I am about to plug in my machines and start tattooing again in a new shop.  It was a frustratingly-interesting job search, unlike any other I’ve been on.  Historically, I’ve never been so out of my element when entering prospective employers.

Typically, a new job search is simple one:

  • Prepare a list of qualities and qualifications
  • Find a business that can utilize what I’m convinced I possess
  • Bug the shit out of them until they figure out I won’t stop until I get paid for being there

I found out quickly that this is not a winning strategy for gaining employment in an industry that doesn’t put much emphasis in public opinion or generally accepted business practices.  I’ve worked for a good mixture of large corporations and small businesses and I have been unable to find a common denominator for tattoo shops.  Usually a small business setting is one of great customer service at a higher cost, and a large corporation is one of lower costs with higher control of standards and consistencies that patrons appreciate.  Most people will put up with a long line and an idiot doing the bare minimum to help you to save money at Wal-Mart, flip the coin and most can also justify digging a little deeper to get great service and knowledgeable staff at a local hardware store.  Simple, right?

Well let’s walk into a couple tattoo shops… You’re getting ignored; someone’s half eaten lunch is on display.  Whoever was in charge of cleaning was abducted months ago but has somehow still managed to not have been replaced by another.  The radio must be on the fritz because it’s blaring noise that is reminiscent of a collaboration of sounds produced by misguided instruments.  It’s so damn loud and unchecked that your conclusion it is intentional.  A quick flip through the artists sticky portfolios showcase sought after skills and years of experience.   There is talent in this shop but it is very clear that obtaining your business is not of much concern… In another shop it looks to be clean and sterile with a noticeable difference in the artists’ willingness to be friendly and helpful… This is odd, and by definition not cool… Are they over compensating for something?   A glance at the portfolios shows that they are.  The lack of experience makes it difficult for them to snag new clients despite their effort.

In what environment do I want to sell myself to?  Assuming my work is at the level of the cool kid’s shop, (which it is); I find it hard to adopt a badass, name dropping, non-conformist rock star attitude.   On the other extreme will it hurt me financially to remove myself from the never ending line of future clients that want so bad to be down that it’s only right to be tattooed at the hip spot?  I know, I’m full of extremes among other things, but the extremes are stamped in all our minds with more force than the others.

Thankfully I did find a spot to give a rest to my complaints and our Netflix account.  It feels like a good balance of extremes that I need to be cool, if only in my own mind.

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