Legal Dramas

Legal Dramas

It is a thing we do. You probably do it as well, if you have followed our podcasts for any length of time. It’s simple. We post it, then you probably go and follow the person Jake interviewed on Instagram. I know I do. Which brings me to my recent Instagram feed.

I get up one morning. Surprisingly, my 7-year-old has not gotten up yet. That means I have an unknown small amount of time before the silence and peace of my pre-morning awareness comes to an end with a crashing and bounding of dog and boy bouncing into our bed and ensuring that our daily dose of chaos begins. My ritual of preparation involves a carefully constructed Instagram feed, combining a collection of Hawaiian wave photographers, abstract painters, and tattooers.

As I scrolled past the latest wave pics from Clark Little, which always bring me to my happy place, I came upon one of my favorite artists from our podcast archives, Teresa Sharpe. Unfortunately, she hasn’t posted her latest creation of a large body piece that depicts some sort of dark sensual illustration done with the painterly approach of a high renaissance painter, but with more vivid colors. No, instead she has a simple pic with the words “How to Not Get Tattooed”. I later realized that it was a picture of a legal document. With the following account ensuing.

“Hey everyone, just wanted to take a moment to share a learning experience with my fellow business owners and self-employed people. Someone recently tried to sue my coworker for their 100$ deposit. She spent hours preparing for him, tattooed him multiple times, and was extremely accommodating of his schedule and his time. Then one day he just decided he wanted it back. She, unfortunately, made the mistake of only having a verbal contract with him. For those of you out there taking deposits please make sure you have it in writing that it is nonrefundable. I know it’s pretty much a standard policy especially once work has been done but you just never know who’s looking to waste your time. We stood by our coworker and fully support all of our staff in situations like this. Time well spent I would say 😜that last pic is his post for us today…. Oh….by the way…he didn’t even bother to show up at the court date…”

And this is the bullshit that makes one of the best jobs in the world, occasionally not so great. Now let’s talk about a couple of the ways ignorant people with malintent can harsh your mellow and leech your time and energy.

First, you have exactly what happened to Teresa’s artist, with some stupid drama over a deposit. As Teresa mentioned, you must have more than a verbal contract for everything, not just liability. I highly recommend reading some of the comments in her feed. There you will see some good discussions on everything from paperwork to even how you refer to it in paperwork. One guy gives a good case for calling it something other than a deposit so that it is a little clearer on the nonrefundable understanding.

Second, you have people coming in with infections after a couple of weeks when their tattoo should be healed. As any reputable artist knows, a tattoo is nothing more than a controlled abrasion. Given all the wiping with green soap, Bactine, and application of your favorite antibiotic cream, they basically shouldn’t have any problems once they leave your presence, especially if they follow the aftercare instructions. But there is always that rare someone who comes in several weeks after the tattoo should have been healed with something that is more within the realm of post-tattoo care on their part than anything you should legally be responsible for on your end of things.

Let’s face it, we live in a presterilized pre-autoclaved world that is regulated and monitored by our health department overlords. Gone are the days when people had to even ask if a licensed shop had access to an autoclave. Most of the tattooers I know don’t even have to deal with one now that you can buy everything presterilized as I just mentioned. Inks are industry regulated to a degree far beyond what any government entity would follow. So basically, anything that happens in the healing process is usually the customers responsibly. Unfortunately, you still get someone come in with drama from time to time.

There are other forms of drama, but I wanted to focus on these two elements are mostly addressable through paperwork. I was very lucky. In my time working in shops, I did not have any issues like these. However, I was always aware that such drama was out there.

So, I leave it to you guys now. Leave some comments. Tell us your stories of legal drama. How did you handle it? What do you suggest to others who might run into similar situations? Also, drop by and give Teresa’s Instagram a follow or give her interview with Jake another view.

Till next time,



Teresa Sharpe Instagram:

Teresa Sharpe Interview:


Clark Little: