It’s never fun for anyone, either the client or the artist when a tattoo gets messed up. Tattoo artists take pride in their work, but unfortunately, sometimes accidents happen. We’ve all seen images online of misspelled tattoos, which has people wondering who’s at fault when it happens?
The answer is a little complicated because it all depends on what stage the mistake was made at.
When It’s The Artist’s Fault
Sometimes it is the tattoo artist’s fault. Tattooing is a process that starts with consulting with the client about what they want. Then the artists will go create a design, or go reformat the design given to them by the client. The artists will then show the design to the client, and if it’s approved they’ll create a stencil.
So here’s where it gets complicated. If the tattoo is perfectly spelled up to the point of the stencil, and the tattoo artists mess up by missing a letter, misreading a letter, or adding an extra letter during the tattooing process then it is their fault.
Basically, anything that’s altered without the client’s knowledge or consent after the stencil is on the body and the tattooing process begins is the artists’ fault.
Tattoo artists try hard not to make mistakes because they fully understand how big a deal it is to get something permanently on one’s body. That’s part of the reason why there are multiple steps of approval before it begins. But mistakes do happen, and if it’s not caught in time the misspelled tattoo could be there forever.
What Happens If It’s the Artists’ Fault
The silver lining is that if it’s the artists’ fault most tattoo shops will take every effort to fix the issue. That could mean fixing it after the original tattoo is healed, doing a full cover-up, or refunding the cost of the tattoo. It all depends on the individual situation, but you can bet your tattoo artist will feel awful and take every step to try to remedy it.
When It’s The Client’s Fault
Here’s the thing, sometimes it is the artists’ fault, but usually it’s the client’s. It is ultimately up to the client to spell check the final tattoo design. If a client misses a misspelled word during the design process or the stenciling, unfortunately, that’s on them. If you approved the misspelled word during these stages then the artist isn’t at fault.
A lot of times clients come in with a word or a phrase written down and hand it to the artist to reformat it into an appropriate tattoo. Usually, if the artist notices a misspelled word they’ll ask the client, but sometimes they don’t notice or they assume it was intentional to the design (you’d be surprised how many ironically misspelled tattoos we do).
So, essentially if the mistake happens during the design process and the client approved the design that has the misspelled word it’s their fault.
What Happens If It’s The Client’s Fault
Here’s where it gets tricky. Most tattoo shops want their clients to be happy, no matter what. But they also aren’t required to remedy the issue if it’s the client’s fault it’s misspelled. Usually, tattoo shops will work with the client to come to some sort of solution. If it can easily be fixed the shop will usually do that for free, but if it can’t that makes things more complicated. The client could get a cover up or full refund as if it were the artists’ fault, the shop could refund part of the money or offer a discounted fix/cover-up, or the client could be, well out of luck and get nothing.
How To Avoid Misspelled Tattoos
There are two key ways to avoid tattoo spelling errors. First, always double and triple check the final design before beginning the tattooing process. We even recommend you Google the word or phrase, as the search engine will usually catch errors. It’s also a good idea to show the design to a trusted friend or family member, as a fresh set of eyes are usually better at catching mistakes.
Secondly, research your artist well. An inexperienced tattoo artist is likely to make more mistakes. But even the most experienced artists make mistakes every now and then. Still, if you go to reputable artists working out of a professional shop even if there is an error they’re more likely to work with you to fix it no matter who’s at fault.
To sum it up, if the spelling mistake happens during the design process and is approved by the client then the fault lies with them, but if it happens during the tattooing process and wasn’t on the original approved design it’s on the artist.
No matter who’s at fault, the situation is unfortunate. You can bet the tattoo artist feels just as bad about a tattoo mistake whether or not they’re to blame. It’s important to stay calm if this happens to you, as nothing can happen until the tattoo is fully healed. Tattoos are permanent but there are multiple options out there to fix it. In all likelihood, this issue will be fixed, so just keep that in mind. If you have any other questions feel free to contact us.