People love to talk trash. This is the very reason you never want to talk bad about another shop or artist. Most clients go to the shop that happens to have an opening that day. To them it really does not matter who tattoos them. Since most client travel between shops a lot of them like to play games with the tattoo artists. Tattoo artist have a known history of trash talking the competition, every one knows and will play on this. Some will say that "Such and such said he will do the same tattoo for less." Don't make any comment about there quality of work. Every artist thinks they are the best. The client is trying to get you all worked up so you give them a tattoo cheaper out of spite. I hate to tell you this but almost every time they never even talk to the other artist. If the other guy is willing to price cut then let them. Just tell the client that your price is whatever and direct them to your portfolio so they can make their own decision. If you don't like the other artist's work then just say "I have seen some of their work I agree with and some I don't." If you stick to your guns then in the end you earn more respect. There is nothing wrong with dropping off a few bucks to give someone a deal, but if you cut a price in half then the client thinks that you are a push over, unsure of your own ability, or hurting for money. In this case, they will go around and tell everyone that you are going under.
A large amount of the time you will hear that some clients are going to scratchers that work out there house. Don't give them a lecture or say something mean spirited. Just say "I hope they are using disposable equipment because most home artists can't afford an autoclave." and also tell them to look at a portfolio before any work is done. Usually the threat of disease and poor work will be enough to scare them away. Really you should get as much information as you can and report them to the health department, but no one wants to be a narc. For the most part, I just leave them alone until it becomes a public safety issue. If someone tells me they got Hep form a home made tattoo then you bet your ass I'm going to have them file a complaint. Another way to think about it is that you get to cover all the crappy work they are pumping out so you get to tattoo more. Just make sure they are not a safety issue.
Other tattoo shops play games as well. The tattoo industry is the most cut throat profession in the world. I have had other shops threaten my life and my shop, and have gone as far as physical confrontation because they think that someone trash talking has merit. Many shops think that violence and talking trash affect your business. It does to a degree, but if they are talking smack to all these people and you let your work speak for its self then they come out looking like jackasses. If a shop talks smack and tells everyone how horrible you are or that your shop is unclean then it just shows that they are afraid of you being better than them. Don't play their games. Be above that and just tell the client or whom ever to compare the work for themselves. Never go to another shop in anger unless you are looking for a confrontation. If another shop says something that you just cannot let go then call them and ask why they said whatever. Most of the time you'll find it's the client stirring the pot. If another shop ever threatens you with violence or comes to your shop looking for violence then call the police. That's their job, and the other guy will have more problems then you will from them running their mouth. Be above the game, keep out of it. Don't fall into the shit talking trap. Once you start it's done and that's your reputation. Let them do their work and you do yours, if someone starts talking smack then just say "I guess they should come see my shop in person; it's obvious they haven't yet." Here is a little secret about the competition that no one seems to understand. There is no competition. You will always have your clients and they will always have theirs. You don't need to fight over it. People will always want to get tattooed. I live in a fairly small town that at the moment has eight shops, yes eight in a small town. We all do just fine despite the shit talking game.
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