You may have traveled to a tattoo convention, but there you’re in a room for a weekend, working steadily and there’s little time to get acquainted with your fellow artists and learn about the local culture. You’re in and you’re out – and before you know it, you’re back home in your own studio.
Doing a guest spot in a totally different studio or opening your door to an artist from another part of the country can bring unique perspectives on tattooing, allow you to share ideas and introduce your regular clients to new styles of work they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience. You might say that a guest spot is like having a personal tattoo convention — or better yet, a working vacation.
Many times, guest spots start with meeting people at conventions, and being invited to tattoo at their studio the next time you’re in town. There are even online communities, almost like classifieds, where professionals in the industry can list and find guest spot opportunities. One such Facebook group is “Tattoo Artist Guest Spot Offers & Inquiries.”
A guest spot has benefits for both artist and studio. It could be that it’s a slow time, and having new blood in a studio can boost morale as well as business. Having an extra artist in the house, can work to everyone’s advantage if it’s a busy time of year as well. The traveling artist gets the chance to make new clients and increase their visibility and fan base. Having a well-known artist choose your studio as a stop on their “tour” also ups your respectability in the eyes of local tattoo enthusiasts.
Guest artists bring their own unique talents and personality, but before you book anyone into your studio, be sure to inspect their portfolio and make sure to get two references; one from their home studio and another from a recent client or even just from online reviews. Being that the tattoo industry exists in a very small world, most of the time you will know somebody that knows somebody from whom you can get the lowdown.
Studios typically pay their main artist 70/30 split meaning that the house gets 30% of the profits earned. It’s common practice for a guest artist to receive a little extra from the house since they will be their only a short amount of time and probably have traveling expenses to cover, As a guest, you should respect any fees set by the studio where you will be working, and realize that not all studios are equal, and rates are often determined by the local economy.
Promotion is a big part of a successful guest spot. Well in advance of the appearance, start creating a buzz on social media; share pictures of the artist’s recent work, maybe have a live chat session. The Facebook Event feature is a great way to boost engagement, get people talking and provide helpful information. Use an action button to allow clients to schedule work though the shop or directly with the artist. Make sure to update the social media outlets, showing work the artist is doing once they’ve arrived and announcing any vacancies they may have in their schedule.
While your in the planning stages, the artist will want to make a list of everything they’ll need – unless you’re visiting a studio across town, it’s likely you won’t be able to just run home for something you’ve forgotten to pack. Some artists prefer to ship their “kit” ahead of time to avoid hassles with airport security and make sure everything is ready to go when they arrive.
Don’t expect that you’ll be given the key to the mini-bar, so to speak. Remember that the studio is welcoming you into their home, and as a guest artist, you should bring something to the table and be prepared to work. Be sure and talk to the studio owner or manager about their sterility procedures and facilities – you’ll want to follow the house rules.
As a guest, be on your toes for times when you can lend a hand – think of it as what can you do for the studio rather than what can the studio do for you. Any time you see a chance to help, do so, whether it’s taking walk-ins to pick up the slack when things get busy or grabbing a broom to help sweep up before closing up for the night.
Having a positive attitude and good energy, and being open to sharing both ideas and responsibilities, is a sure way to get invited back.