Why do tattoo artists wear headphones?

Naturally if your artist puts on his headphones you would assume he/she is being rude, I completely understand and empathise with that assumption.

I thought this myself when I saw it for the first time at a tattoo convention but then as I continued to push my own standards I found myself more and more often struggling to concentrate between chatting with the client and reading my evermore complicated tattoo stencil.

Nowadays in order to compete at the higher level in this industry tattoo art is constantly becoming more technical, every tattoo has more research, planning and preparation than ever before ‘all unpaid I might add which is partly why you are seeing a rise in costs across the board but more about pricing to come” the stencils are much more technical with fine detail and mapping for all the added shadows, contrast and line work.

Each tattoo now has more layers of contrast, tones, blending and textures in order to achieve finer realistic, all round higher quality artwork than some ten years ago.

So one day when tattooing a friend I simply said

“mate I really need to concentrate on this particular section so to stop me talking I am going to zone out with my earphones as at the end of the day my aim and your preferred outcome is surely for the best tattoo I can produce”

My friend completely understood and it really has helped my concentration when I am trying something new or facing a very complex detailed stencil.

I do not wear headphones all the time but I now feel very strongly about being more upfront and honest in doing this rather than feeling slightly frustrated with myself for knowing I could have produced better work.

I must add, in no shape or form do I intend to offend tattoo artists in all the years previous to this current era as if it was not for the birth and nurture of this controversial tradition I myself would not be so lucky to participate.

I merely wish to help the understanding and communication between the client and the artist for it is in my experience a healthy mutual respect and clarity can only enhance the collaboration of artwork for all concerned and relieve some frustrations felt on both sides.

Thanks for reading


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