Customer says tattoo artist spent 6 hours applying stencil during a 5-hour session.

@sailboatcapt/TikTok Stop war in Ukraine/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘​​$600 FOR STENCIL TIME IS CRAZY’: Customer says tattoo artist spent 6 hours applying stencil during 5-hour session. It got worse

‘She was def chilling in the back.’


Tangie Mitchell


Posted on Nov 23, 2023   Updated on Nov 23, 2023, 5:32 am CST

A woman is asking TikTok for advice on how to move forward after being charged $600 for a tattoo stencil.

In an almost 7-minute video with over 428,000 views as of Thursday, content creator Meg (@sailboatcapt) details how she ended up spending $1,800 total on a tattoo with only shading to show for it.

When an artist from a California tattoo shop she’d been serviced by before posted a design that she loved, Meg quickly booked an appointment.

In the video, Meg shares screenshots of her initial correspondence with the artist to figure out dates, times, and rates. They settle on $120 an hour for five, five-hour sessions. Meg books for Oct. 11 and Oct. 30.

On the day of the first appointment, the artist allegedly arrives late. “By the time we start actually doing any sort of work, it’s about 40 minutes after my appointment had already begun,” Meg recounts.

After resizing and reprinting the tattoo’s stencil “six or so times” (at which point, the pair are “three hours into the appointment”), the artist ignores the advice of another artist that the stencil should be laid on Meg’s arm in multiple pieces instead of as a whole.

“She did it in one piece and it did not lay correctly,” Meg says. The stencil had to be done again and cut into pieces, which took another hour.

“By the time we got the stencil on and placed in a position she felt was correct, it was about six hours into the appointment,” Meg shares.

After a short break for Meg to eat and make childcare arrangements, the tattooing process finally began. The artist gray-lines the tattoo, telling Meg that it will save time. She then charges Meg $100 an hour, a whopping $600 bill for just the tattoo stencil.

For Meg, it was an unprecedented experience. “I was shocked. I’ve never been charged for stencil time before and I felt that it was wild that I got charged $600 for her to lay a stencil on my arm.”

Deciding to just “roll with the punches,” Meg pays the $600 for the stencil time and the money for the tattooing time: “$1,050 by the end of that first session for a gray line on my arm,” she vents.

Meg shares that as she left the first session, the artist made a strange joke. 


#stitch with @Susi am i being gaslit or aita? Would you continue with this artist? #sacramentotattoo #lestattoo #tattoogonewrong #badtattoo #tattoogate #aita

♬ original sound – Meg

“I was leaving and she said to me, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if the whole time I was saying that I was doing the stencil I was actually just chilling in the back?’ And I was like, ‘That’s a weird thing to say.’”

At the second session, Meg recounts that while she was excited to finally get an actual outline on her arm, the artist instead starts shading without doing an outline.

‘I’ve always had outlines done and then shading, but maybe this is just a different method, I don’t know,” Meg offered. 

After four hours of tattooing, Megs pays another $600 for the session plus a $200 deposit for the next one.

But the artist rebooks and ultimately cancels Meg’s next appointment, moving it from Nov. 12 to Dec. 21.

“By this time the shading was healing and I was getting very very self-conscious about the work that was on my arm. I was very embarrassed by it. I’ve never been embarrassed by work-in-progress on my tattoos before,” Meg continues.

Meg messages the artist to tell her she feels uncomfortable about the tattoo. She asks for the $200 deposit back, and $500 back for the time she spent waiting for the artist to stencil her arm during the first session. 

“I thought it was a fair ask to rectify the situation,” Meg reasons.

The artist disagreed. “She told me no. She told me I was being unreasonable and she was deeply offended.”

“So I wanna know what TikTok thinks. Should I continue with this artist or should I go to my local artist and get it fixed?” Meg asks.

Meg offers that the local artist takes 30 minutes to stencil, doesn’t charge for stencil time, and also did her boyfriend’s sleeve, which “looks fabulous.” 

“She would’ve lost me at being late, unprepared, and erroneously didn’t listen to her co-worker,” another person commented.

“As a tattoo artist, I’m horrified. I don’t refund deposits, but I’ve also never wasted someone’s time like that or charged them that much. Whattt,” another user wrote.

In a final update video, Meg shared that after voicing her concerns to them, the owners of the tattoo shop refunded her the full amount that she’d paid to the tattoo artist. She also asked that viewers leave the tattoo artist and shop owners alone.

“I would like everyone to stop sending comments and messages to the shop and to other artists… This situation’s over.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Meg via TikTok message for more information.

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*First Published: Nov 23, 2023, 7:00 am CST