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Good Morning Speakeasy Readers!

It’s going to be a sunny weekend, if you haven’t done it already, make your weekend plans and soak in some sunshine. As for me, I'm on vacation in Rocky Pointe, Mexico! I highly recommend this nice little vacation spot. Great food, warm weather, beautiful beaches just make sure you bring your water shoes because the beaches actually are rocky.

Today’s topic has created quite the buzz in the tattoo community over the last week.

People are calling it “Tattoo Gate”, and it all started with a TikTok post of someone’s tattoo horror story.

On May 9th, a TikTok user by the name of cmonteith posted a video where she told her story about how she spent thousands of dollars for a tattoo that she didn’t even receive.

Courtney AKA cmonteith explained that it all started when she contacted a tattoo artist who she had admired for awhile about getting a tattoo of a fox on her upper arm. The tattoo artist who we’ll call LJ on this blog post told Courtney they could discuss the tattoo in a consultation for $180. And this was not even an in person consultation, but instead took place over a zoom call.

During the consultation, Courtney showed LJ reference images and at the end of their discussion LJ informed Courtney that she has a design fee. There were three options that Courtney could choose from. The cheapest option cost $1500 + tax and would come with a concept sketch and one minor change to the presented design. The middle option cost $3500 + tax and came with two concept sketches and a few minor changes to the design. The most expensive option cost $6000 + tax and came with multiple sketches and the ability to make multiple changes. Even though these design fees are pretty pricey LJ told Courtney this fee would also not count towards the tattoo at all. Courtney picked option one which came out to $1600. "Obviously, I pick number one because, like, it's super expensive," Courtney says. "And she had these pictures, so I was confident she was gonna make me a beautiful piece." Unfortunately when Courtney received the sketch, she was met with disappointment as it was not what she had expressed that she wanted when the zoom consultation took place.

The sketch pictured above is what Courtney received. It pictures a partial fox with flowers, but during the zoom consultation Courtney explained she wanted a full fox surrounded by flowers and she even showed reference pictures.

When Courtney reached out to LJ about her disappointment and how this was not what they had discussed, she was told by LJ that it was her fault and that she was not clear that she wanted a full fox, even though Courtney shared pictures of what she wanted. LJ then let Coutney know that it would cost an additional $2,260 to redraw the sketch and that a $1,000 down payment was required to make the tattoo appointment. When Courntey was not happy with this answer, LJ also told her the design fees were actually optional and considered a design collab. "I was never told that that fee was optional. She presented me with three options, asked me which one I was most comfortable with. I should’ve walked away at that point, that’s on me," Courtney explained. Courtney did not pay the additional $2,260 to get a new sketch, but she did pay $1,000 to schedule the tattoo appointment. Eventually Courtney ended up deciding to not get the tattoo with LJ, but she had lost $2,600 in the process.

After Courtney told her story over TikTok, millions of people watched the video, and out came more people who said they had bad experiences with the same tattoo artist, one person even expressing that she felt she was scammed out of $4,000.

After hearing these stories, I just had to share it with all of you. This whole situation really doesn’t sit well with me, and it gives tattoo artists a bad look. While a tattoo is definitely something you want to save up for, it shouldn’t cost thousands of dollars to have a consultation, a design, and an appointment. But there are a lot of great people in the tattoo community and there are a lot of genuine artists who want to make tattoos accessible.

After hearing Courtney’s story award-winning tattoo artist Matt Vaught, who is based in Newport Beach, California, has offered to “make things right” by designing a new tattoo and tattooing Monteith. “I want to fix this,” Vaught said “I’ve been working together alongside my sponsors H2Ocean and my manager Jenn Lee and we are going to fly this young woman out to Los Angeles, California, and I am going to tattoo this fox. Because she’s already out multiple thousands of dollars, I’m going to do this for free. That’s right, completely free. I really just want to fix the wrong that has been done, and I also love tattooing foxes”.

Matthew Vaught is not the only person who has shown support for Courtney, since the post, many artists have come forward and have been sending Courtney fox tattoo designs that they have sketched up for her.

It’s really nice to see people doing the right thing. While tattooing is a profession and how some make their living, it’s important that we hold ourselves to a certain standard and not do this just to squeeze out as much money as we can from our customers just as it is important that the artist is properly respected and paid for their work. At the end of the day we all need each other, the person wanting a tattoo needs the artist and the artist needs the canvas.

Until next time my fellow apes,

Peter Hernandez


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