Tattoo artists reveal their worst mistakes ever – and how the clients reacted

Being a tattoo artist can be a fairly high-pressure job, as being trusted to design the artwork that will sit on someone’s body forever is no small feat.

It is therefore essential that the artist is fully focused on the task at hand and not prone to lapses in concentration.

One small error could tarnish a deeply personal piece of art that a client may have saved money to be able to get, there is little to no margin for error.

However, when a tattoo artist does commit the ultimate sin and make an error with the ink gun in their hand, it can make for quite the story.

Multiple tattoo artists have taken to Reddit to reveal their biggest mistakes when inking another person.

One user said: “I had a client email me asking for a four-letter acronym. I don’t do freehand script so I put the letters into a font generator and sent him back some options.

"He picked the one he liked best and we set an appointment date. On the day of his session, I showed him the acronym again and we chose a size. I placed the stencil and he approved it and I got started. Midway through the tattoo I asked him what the letters stood for and he told me. My heart stopped.

"The letters were in the wrong order. The middle two were swapped. I ran to the shop computer to check my email and sure enough, in his original email he’d sent me, they’d been correct. I had typed them into the font generator wrong.

"But to be fair, he had seen them several times since then and didn’t notice my mistake. I spent the rest of the session covering them up with another design he’d had as a backup tattoo idea and I didn’t charge him. But it was a good learning experience for me to always ask what initials/acronyms stand for ahead of time to make sure I get them in the right order."

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Spelling errors are a common fear for both artist and client alike, as it is such an easy mistake to make.

One user told of the time they were tricked into thinking they had spelt a name wrong: "So, I didn’t mess up but I had a client scare me, I was tattooing his sister’s name on him (she passed away). 'Gabriela' with 1 (L) in it. Past the point of no return, he asks me “there’s 2 L’s, right?” I think I had a heart attack, and he started laughing.”

As is the case with many other things, tattoos and alcohol are never a good mix. Not only can getting inked with alcohol still in your system make you bleed more while under the needle, it can also lead to some pretty bad tattoo ideas.

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But even sober clients can end up regretting their tattoo decisions.

As one user revealed: "A few years ago, I was tattooing a client who had apparently lost a bet, his buddies were allowed to tattoo something behind his shoulder as long as it wasn’t racist or offensive.

"Turns out the guy drew up a design of “a Leprechaun throwing up on a book”. Sure, why not, everyone was sober and they were paying pounds upfront.

"Easy work- the drawing was really simple and the shading was easier than I thought it’d be.

"Turns out everyone liked it… Except the guy with the tattoo of a Leprechaun throwing up on a book. He picked at the scab, trying to get rid of it, completely took it from bad to worse.”

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But wait – the story gets worse; the user goes on:

“He comes in about ten days later, demanding a refund of money HE didn’t pay or the studio, not me, cover it up. Nope, management said you signed for it in your right mind and then damaged it yourself, personally I was yelled at and told NEVER tattoo anyone like that, it only works in television series or film.”

As the old adage goes, everyone makes mistakes; but some errors are costlier than others. Making a slip-up on permanent body art is a gaffe of the highest order.

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