So when someone says, ‘I want to get tattooed - Jeff Gogue

Submitted 04.01.24

Starting with What "IS" in the Tattoo

[30:51] “So when someone says, ‘I want to get tattooed’, I just say, I need to see what you got, and I look at their whole body. Do you have any tattoos you like? Yeah? And then I'm like, ‘Okay, we're going to start there’. And as soon as we can clear the road, then we're all in.”

— Jeff Gogue

As Jeff says in the interview, sometimes “what is” is a blank slate and those moments and situations are cherished for some tattooers because of the rarity. But most times, in life and in tattooing itself, “what is” is often a mix of other things; previous tattoos, body shapes, times of hardship, or difficult situations — that you’re going to have to deal with the moment they arrive.

Let’s shift from mindset to tattooing for a brief moment. Most often when a client comes to you for a large piece; arm sleeve, full leg, backpiece etc. — they will probably already have some tattoos on their body. 

Now, you have some options here. You can try to stake your claim as an individual on their body by trying to fit and force a design around all these other tattoos they have. If you’re good at composition It may turn out well and be a nice looking piece. BUT, what Jeff is positing is instead look at those existing tattoos and see if there are some things you can build off of. Look at the person's existing work and find the one or two tattoos that you can CONNECT with your design and create a cohesive body suit for that individual. This should take a lot of pressure off of you as the designer because now you aren’t trying to shorthand yourself trying to force things next to each other, and it benefits the client because now they wont see any breaks in the design and they can feel more confident about the way their tattoos flow together. Working with “what is” and developing a holistic approach.

Jeff gogue tattoo, peony arm sleeve, lightning snake, reaper

But these things can only be achieved with true preparation. ‘Wait wait, what are you saying? I thought we we’re talking about improvising and reacting?’ We are! The only way to become truly improvisational as an artist or tattooer is through studying fundamentals and understanding basics, taking the time to learn and doing some prep work before that situation ever comes to you. In doing these things you’re essentially already well acclimated to whatever might come through your door.

There are many moments in your own life where these ideas can be applied. Be it art and tattooing, business and management, mindset and life. Being proactive in life is important, so that when your ‘opportunity’ to react shows up you’re prepared to act without deliberation.

Watch the full episode: 

Business and Mindset: Learning to Surrender Jeff Gogue Ep 165

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