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Tattoo Artists Are Sharing Their Worst ‘Tattoo Virgin’ Stories (15 Stories)

Tattoos can be beautiful works of art on the body, but sometimes the customer is a little difficult to deal with. If you’re getting your first tattoo, you might not be prepared for the pain — or your body might react in ways you don’t expect. Fainting? Vomiting? Sweating? Screaming uncontrollably?

Tattoo artists on Reddit are sharing the most harrowing experiences they’ve had tattooing newbies.

And I was honestly not aware there are so many people with unfinished tattoos running around.


1. Watermelon Slice

“Had a customer that wanted a little water melon slice on his thigh. Cool, 5-10 minutes nice and easy for a first tattoo. Nope. On the third line I hear a weird little low pitched moan, looked up and his head flipped back and the rest of him followed. When he woke up on the floor to three guys trying to pull him back up he said something along the lines of, ‘wtf why are you touching me that’s gay’ been like 3-4 years since then and he still hasn’t come back to get it finished lmao.” — Eastern-Meringue9570

2. Ex-Boyfriend

“Girl comes in to get her ex-boyfriends name tattooed as a tramp stamp….Comes in with friends and proceeds to scream throughout the process of doing the outline and she leaves with a half outline of her ex’s name.” — bobjones136

3. Throwing Up

“Kid who wanted to get a full sleeve as his first ever tattoo. Convinced him to get a smaller tattoo for his first ever. He proceeded to throw up after, now this sounds like an exaggeration, five seconds.” — pinetree57

4. Screaming The Whole Time

“A friend who had never had a tattoo before wanted one on her ankle and was adamant about that. I told her several times that the ankle is a very not fun location, and asked her if maybe she’d prefer the shoulder instead. She insisted on the ankle. Okay then. The moment the needle touched her she hollered. You sure you want to keep going I asked? She said yes. That was the loudest appointment I ever had but to her credit she made it through.” — Odeiminmukwa

5. Kicked In The Jaw

“This girl’s first tattoo, and my first paying customer (I tattooed people for free during my apprenticeship.) She wants a star outline on the side of her heel below the ankle. She’s a bit nervous, so I allow two of her friends to come in the room with us. I start the tattoo and immediately she jerks away super hard. I warn her not to do that and try to relax. We start again and she jerks her foot. The two lines I’ve done now look like SHIT and I’m already pissed/freaking out inside. I get her two friends to help hold down her foot and she continues to jerk around and at one point KICKS ME RIGHT IN THE JAW. Needless to say her tattoo looked like shit and I was crestfallen. I called my mentor after work crying that I ruined my first tattoo on a client and she kicked me in the face to which he said ‘Wait, what?? Nah fuck that, it’s not your fault. I’ll see you tomorrow at work.’ Been tattooing 13 years now and still love every minute! Got way crazier stories under my belt since that kick in the face.” — ginger_wahine

6. First Date Dare

“One shop I worked at we had a couple come in on the day we did $100 two inch by two inch tattoos, they both were getting these small triceratops outline tattoos behind their ears, nothing too crazy or detailed so maybe about 15 minutes each in the chair at most. The guy is losing his mind, he’s hyperventilating, laughing, jumping up and down and yelling questions at all of us, visually very nervous. He tells one of our apprentices that this is his first tattoo and keeps asking them how bad it hurts over and over again, the owner went into the back and grabbed an ammonia packet, worried the guy would pass out the second needle touched skin. Turns out it was this couples’ first date, he had told her he was impulsive and she tried to call his bluff and suggested they get matching tattoos. To his credit he got the tattoo and didn’t pass out, paid for them both too!” — Hellcathowl

7. Six Stitches

“Not the worst client. But just an unfortunate event. The apprentice at my shop who had only been tattooing for a little under a year was tattooing this girls wrist recently, her first tattoo the word ‘undefeated.’ Gets the tattoo, it goes smoothly, she likes it, walks to the lobby, shows her dad, he likes it. Walks back to get bandaged up, gets bandaged, they walk back to the counter as he’s explaining aftercare she blacks out. Falls back hits her head on a giant painting hanging on the wall (an ed hardy original) the painting falls, glass breaks. He runs over picks her up and is checking the back of her head. Realizes a giant piece of glass had punctured her shoulder/trap. Emt comes, tell her she needs stitches, they end up having to take her to the emergency room where she got 6 stitches. The next week the girl brought him a giant tub of cookies. She wasn’t the worst, but it was an incredibly unfortunate experience for the both of them. His first time having someone pass out and her being ‘defeated.'” — tattoocaleb

8. “We Called The Cops”

“Not an artist, but I’m a receptionist at a pretty popular tattoo shop in my town. I’ve seen quite a few people who had no business getting tattooed, but by far my favorite was this one guy who wanted to get some script tattooed behind his ear. He had come in before to get priced out, but absolutely refused to make an appointment and drop a deposit. He came back a few days later as a walk in, so we squeezed him in that day. He was a mess getting done lol; shaking, sweating and basically crying in the chair. The tattoo itself took maybe 15 minutes. Well the reason why this dude refused to put a deposit down was because he planned on getting tatted and leaving without paying. As soon as the artist put saniderm on his tattoo, he jumped up out of the chair and bolted for the front door. Then promptly passed out as he ran through the lobby lmfao. He ended up breaking his nose as he hit the ground, and we called the cops. The best part was watching this dude cry like a baby because he was just a few days from getting out of the military and local PD notified his command. Best shift ever.” — pieceoffabric

9. “Mr. Lover Boy”

“Had a 19 year old lad in the studio, he wanted “Laura” in large letters on his forearm. I took my time to quiz him, turns out Laura was his sweetheart. I also spent a LOOOONG time explaining that tattoos are for life, and girlfriends come and go. He remained adamant, and clearly explained that if I didn’t do it, he had a friend with a ‘tattoo gun’ who would do it. So I did it, wrapped it up and explained aftercare. As he left I checked the time, great! 22 minutes to My next client. 22 minutes later my client turned up on perfect time, followed less than a minute later by Mr. Lover boy. Apparently he’d met Laura at the park who instantly dumped him for being so fucking stupid, it would appear she wasn’t as in love with him as he assumed. 22 minutes from tattoo to requesting a cover up…” — AcanthocephalaOk3991

10. “It’s BACKWARDS”

“I’ll take this one. I had a client who got a Jesus fish with Greek letters on his chest. I put the stencil on, he looks down says ‘looks good’ and we do the tattoo. Guy sits like a CHAMP through his entire first tattoo. I finish up after about 45 minutes, he checks it out in the mirror and immediately goes pale, starts to sweat and sits down. Dude looks at me and says ‘it’s BACKWARDS!’ All shook. I look at his tattoo, look at him on the floor, look at the mirror and tell the guy ‘I’m gonna take a photo of it for you to see, because you don’t know how mirrors work.’ A couple minutes go by as I’m handing the dude paper towels, The guy stands up all quick and try’s to play it off like he was just messing with me even though for a minute there, there was a corpse on my studio floor….” — tattoosbyjerad

11. She Passed Out A Dozen Times

“A couple of years ago, I had a girl come in for what was supposed to be a simple little seahorse, it was only about 4-5 inches long. This was going to be her first tattoo and she told me that she had a severe fear of blood, that she always passed out whenever she sees blood or even thinks she’s going to see blood. After that, I should have never agreed to tattoo her. But she said that she wanted to do this so that she could get over her phobia. Well, the outline itself should have taken me about 20 minutes or so, but it took me well over an hour and a half to get through. This girl passed out about a dozen times. And after each time, I would have to revive her, get her some water, hold cold compresses to her forehead and back of the neck, elevate her feet and get her calmed down. And no, you can’t just keep working on someone after they pass out. And I couldn’t just leave her with a couple of random lines that would look awful, I had to finish the outline. The worst part was that I had gotten what I think was food poisoning the night before, so I was just going to do this little tattoo and then go home and get some rest because I still felt awful. I didn’t think I’d ever get that outline done.” — Sham_Pain_Renegade

12. Dad And Son

“A few years back, when we still had flash all over the walls, this 18 year old kid and his dad came in. Right off the bat they were definitely weird- the dad was looking through the flash and giggling, calls over my coworker, still giggling. Coworker asks if he can help him. ‘There’s drawings of naked ladies here!’ Uh, yeah, calm down sir, this is a tattoo shop, that’s traditional flash, and you’re a fucking adult with a kid, so presumably you’ve seen one before. Imagine my joy when the dad lights up when I said I’d be tattooing his kid, and he creepily says ‘oh! A female tattooist!’ The kid was the one getting tattooed, and he finally settled on this hideous, ICP-esque ‘creepy clown’. We’re talking that old cherry creek flash, so this was spectacularly gnarly. I redrew it to at least correct some things I felt needed correcting, and stenciled it onto his stomach. From the moment needle touched skin it was like tattooing a bucking bronco. On top of that, the kid didn’t have the best hygiene, so when he started sweating it stunk up the whole shop– and that takes some doing seeing as how the smell of green soap and weed are not easily overpowered. The apprentice ran the sink and poured bleach down the drain and opened the windows to try to tame the smell. Oh, and not to mention that the kid was moaning like he was getting f*cked. It was terrible. The tattoo was supposed to be full color, but two minutes in I knew he’d never make it, so I finished the outline (one of the worst I’ve ever done) and told him we’d make an appointment to do the color another day. He agreed, and I wrapped him up, half expecting him to never come back. Surprisingly he did, and he sat SO much better that second time. We took a break about halfway through and he said he was going to grab a soda. He never came back. Weirdest thing was that he’d already paid in full, so it’s not like he ripped me off or anything. I always wondered about that, it was so strange.” — IrozI

13. Tipping

“I was the worst tattoo virgin. Didn’t know you were supposed to tip the artist until a couple weeks later a friend asked me how much I tipped. Made more sense why he seemed really cool until I checked out and was all pissed. I was too embarrassed to go back and tip him but I wish I would’ve now. It’s been 10 years.” — 1seacow

14. Mean Girls

“Oh wow, reading this thread is bringing up some repressed client memories. My worst one by far, though, was about five years ago when I was apprenticing in a college town. This girl came in with her boyfriend for a traditional butterfly above her elbow, I was still super new so it took me way longer than it should have (maybe 2hrs). I lay her down on her stomach with her arm bent at her side—this is relevant later. Anyway, we start tattooing and within maybe 10 mins she starts getting a string of texts from her freshman friends, telling her they’re essentially ousting her from their group and they don’t want her to contact them again. Super mean stuff, obviously she’s upset. As she’s relating all this to her BF, she starts crying, then full on sobbing. I asked her if she wanted to stop, but she insisted on me continuing, and I felt too awkward to counter her. She continued to sob on and off for probably another hour, while I just kept plugging away at this dumb little tattoo. At this point she had cried so much that her tears had gathered where her arm was pressed against the massage table and had started to spill over into my lap. So I’m feeling uncomfortable as hell, and now also damp. THEN, as I’m within 30 mins or so of finishing, she begins whimpering, then moaning…loudly. At one point she tells the BF ‘this is more intense than anal’ and I wanted to die. As soon as I finished and checked her out, my coworkers (who had all been waiting on me to close) were like ‘what the actual f*ck was going on, and why did you keep going??’ But in the moment, all I could think was to finish the tattoo asap. To her credit, she came back (a year later!) and told me she had been too embarrassed to come back but loved the butterfly and wanted another tattoo from me. Her second session was pleasant and without incident.” — More-Presentation-52

15. “Daddy’s Girl”

“I did piercings, but my friend was an artist at the shop we worked at. Had a girl come in, no ink, no piercings. She wanted to get no joke, “Daddy’s Girl” as a tramp stamp. She was in tears moments into the tattoo, like hysterical shit. She suffered through all together probably 25 minutes, and walked out with “Girl” right above her waist line. 10/10 hilarious.”

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