Knucklehead of the Week (Bless his heart)

Some people really just can’t help it. They just don’t know. You know the type: They don’t know leggings aren’t outerwear; Some people will drive for three miles with their turn signal on; and some people don’t know they have bad tattoos. The latter came in today. He had a sleeve (mostly) done at another shop and couldn’t reach his artist since the shop was being moved. Frustrated with the lack of customer service, he came to Cardinal Tattoo to see what we could do to finish it. Unfortunately the answer to that question is ‘not much’.

Not to be ugly, but there was no way we were going to work on his tattoo. It was so poorly executed that anything we could have done to finish it would only serve to attach our name to something so bad the only way to fix it involved lasers. But maybe you need further explanation to understand why we would refuse good money to do our job…

This tattoo was a composite of several different styles, mixing poorly rendered, scratchy traditional Japanese wind bars that had been colored over (wind bars are supposed to be black and grey), with traditional-ish American-style skulls, New School style brass knuckles that have to be studied for a moment to identify what they even were, with an oddly curved and off-sized straight razor. Top it off with a Von Dutch flying eyeball for no reason at all and you’ve got yourself a tatty that only laser tattoo removal establishments could love.

Well, that, and the guy who got ‘em. Stick around kids, here’s where it gets good.

Having overheard where he got the tattoo originally, our illustrious leader Will asked the gentleman to let him check out the tattoo in order to determine the best course of action. Upon investigating, Will found that course of action to be none. ‘There’s nothing we can do with that.’

The tattoo was so bad that we literally couldn’t fix it up enough to where it wouldn’t be detrimental to our business by having our name attached to it. RE: It was so bad it wasn’t worth the reputation hit to take his money. That bad. That wasn’t the worst part. The worst part is that the guy didn’t want it FIXED, he wants it FINISHED, meaning he had NO PROBLEM with the quality of work.

This couldn’t be right, Will thought, so he investigated further.

‘How long had you been getting tattooed before you figured out it wasn’t good?’ Will asked, maybe money had been a factor, or drug use.

‘I didn’t say it wasn’t good. I just need somebody to finish it.’ Incredulous.

Will pitied him, but still couldn’t bring himself to sacrifice our hard-earned reputation for excellence, ‘Well, there’s a place that might be able to help you in Hendersonville.’ Will was trying to help the guy out, even though we weren’t going to get his business.

‘Naw man, I want to stay local.’

Wait. What the Fuck?!? Local?! Dude, Hendersonville IS local, you can be at the far side of Hendersonville from anywhere in Gallatin in 15 minutes. Still, maybe the guy doesn’t drive.

‘Do you not drive? Or have a car, like , is tranportation an issue?’ Will.

‘Naw, I just like to support small business in town.’ THIS GUY.

Really? Sounds like bullshit to us.

THIS GUY literally got his entire arm done, terribly, by a guy who he thinks did a GREAT JOB and the minute he isn’t available because his shop is closed down to move THIS GUY gets offended and tries to go to the next nearest place?! He gets mad because we don’t want to take a hit to our reputation for good work by shining up this turd of an arm he has and when we try to help him by recommending a place who might actually try to tackle this mess he decides he has some sort of moral obligation to local business?! COME ON!

This is how bad tattoos are made.

He went so far as to complain about how much he’d paid for the tattoo, saying that he’d already paid in full for it, then changing his story and saying that he still owed ‘a couple hundred dollars on it’. But when asked, he couldn’t remember how much he’d paid for the tattoo. It’s our contention that mental Hercules here wouldn’t want to spend the couple thousand dollars it would take to finish his arm, much less fix the coat hanger abortion of a tattoo he’d gotten himself into and the whole time Will’s talking to him about this he keeps muttering under his breath about why he can’t understand why we can’t just finish it. IT’S BECAUSE WE ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT WHAT WE DO TO PEOPLE.

Cardinal Tattoo has been in business for 4 years now. If you live in the Gallatin area or even Sumner county and you get tattooed, you’ve heard of us by now. We don’t do a lot of advertising because we like to let endorsements from our customers do the talking for us and we don’t want to get too busy that taking care of our regular customers becomes an issue. That being said, if you have researched good tattoos in Tennessee you’ve probably come across our name online. So, simply put, there’s no excuse for getting terrible tattoos in Gallatin anymore. If you know of Cardinal Tattoo and are still getting tattooed somewhere else, we probably don’t want your business anyway.

We’re not trying to sound stuck up. We work very hard to be accessible to our customers and keep artists on hand to tackle a variety of styles and proficiency levels. We do everything from small lettering tattoos on wrists and ankles, to photorealistic backpieces and sleeves. We have a $20 minimum for clients who don’t want huge tattoos and only want something small or cute. But we do have standards. Those standards are what guarantee our customers that they will get the best work for the money anywhere. ANYWHERE. ON EARTH. Best bang for your buck on the planet people. That doesn’t mean cheap either.

THIS GUY wants a low price and convenience and the quality of tattoo work isn’t a priority for him. If it was, he’d have come here in the first place. Lazy clients end up with lazy ‘artists’ and we use that term loosely folks!

All jokes aside, our reason for not working with him is his general attitude toward the quality of work he was comfortable with; an apparent entitlement mentality with regard to accessing his artist (if the shop is closed, don’t get mad that it’s closed); and the fact that no matter what we did to his existing tattoo, the finished product wouldn’t be up to our standards. The comedy stems from the fact that this gentlemen decided to cop an attitude when we tried to tell him nicely that we couldn’t help him. We’ve enclosed some photos of the tattoos in question to drive the point home. If anyone reading this thinks they’re good, please don’t ever come into Cardinal Tattoo, we won’t get along.


Not all Knuckleheads are customers.  Sometimes they do tattoos.  

We allowed someone to start working at Cardinal Tattoo based off of prior knowledge that the person had about ten years experience in the business and just about all the rest of the information he gave was false.  Don't get us started.  

It took about three weeks to figure out this guy was a problem and to let him know his services would no longer be needed.  To this day he claims not to know why, which is actually a big part of the problem.  We have the rambling texts, photos of shoddy work, and the physical evidence of a significant substance abuse problem, all coupled with an alarming number of anecdotes about his personal behavior that, if he was being honest with himself, he would admit his faults and start working on them with Herculean intensity.

Three weeks. 

Some people have had shorter runs.  Like the young lady who wanted an apprenticeship but was so busy trying to sleep with just about everyone in the shop (male and female, tattooer and customer) that she forgot to try to learn how to tattoo.  That lasted about two weeks.

What about the 47 yr-old pothead that couldn't help getting stoned in the parking lot during business hours and had trouble showing up to work on time even though he should have known his work wasn't really of the caliber our customers expect?  He made it 7 days I think.  

What about the guy who had trouble showing up to work, EVERYDAY, EVERY FUCkin', waitatminute... 10, 9, 8, 7.... okay I'm better now.  Look, if you can't get to work on time, maybe you shouldn't have asked for the job, okay?

Still, considering the gamut of non-hackers that Will has been gracious enough to extend an opportunity to and the amount of time they were allowed to stick it out, three weeks should tell you a lot about how much of a problem this cat was.  It might make you think that we have a bunch of Knuckleheads working here.  What it should do is let you know that while Will has an interest in helping people and offering them opportunities, he has a standard that he will not allow us to fall below.  You can slip, you can fall, but if you don't take the initiative to get back up we're not going to carry any dead weight.  

Cardinal Tattoo has developed a reputation for being the best tattoo establishment for miles around based on the leadership and vision of a man that feels the weight of responsibility for his customers and his actions daily.  Experience has taught him that and he works to teach us that.  We hope the young man (who is no doubt reading this right now) who this post is about can see the error in his ways, turn over a new leaf, and create a better life for himself and his family.  Only then will he be able to show his face around Cardinal Tattoo again.

In the meantime, you can all rest soundly knowing that we currently have the strongest roster of artists (and human beings) working at Cardinal Tattoo that we ever have.  We say that again:  Cardinal Tattoo is, right now, the best it has ever been.



We called a guy to confirm his appointment.  He said he'd completely forgotten about it and that his work had transferred him out of state, so he'd need to reschedule.  Even though we had to call HIM, it was a week out from his appointment so we moved his appointment back.  We knew that he might be an issue so we flagged his appointment for additional reminder calls.  

This guy confirmed his appointment four times and then no-call, no-showed on his appointment.  When we called him, he sent us straight to voicemail, twice.

His tattoo's not finished.  Every tattoo he had before he came to Cardinal Tattoo is trash, which is why he came to us in the first place, he wanted something good for a change.  We try not to identify people in these posts, as we're not into public humiliation, just sharing our side of things, but we can say that his tattoo has been featured on this website, so it's reasonable to think it's pretty good.  There wasn't a personal issue either, he was a nice guy even if he was a bit socially awkward, so that doesn't explain his problem.

Our deposit policy doesn't exist to make sure people show up to get their tattoo.  The idea is that people want to get tattooed, not to coerce them into it.  The deposit exists so that people will give us a head's up if they aren't going to be able to make it or they need to reschedule.  It's a stop-gap for people whose lives get the better of them at times, an apology for time wasted.  The fact is that some people are going to show up to their appointments and some people aren't and the amount of the deposit tends to matter very little.

The only difference is how angry people get when they lose their deposit.  

We've been called liars and cheats by people who forgot they had an appointment three days after they confirmed it.  We've had people threaten to sue us for sixty dollars because they didn't bother to tell us they were going on vacation and wouldn't be able to make it to their appointment.  We've had people go on social media and flat out lie to make themselves feel better for being real jerks, and had those same people delete those posts when confronted, without so much as an apology.  Most of the time we don't even bother to engage those people, only if they're persistent.

We don't pretend to understand why this sort of behavior occurs.  

Maybe it's shame at not having the money for a tattoo or cold feet at the lifelong commitment.  Maybe it's an entitlement mentality for people who think they're the only ones who matter in the world.  Maybe it's plain malice, people trying to hurt us by wasting our time, but that doesn't make sense unless you're rich enough or crazy.

All we know is that some people refuse to be held accountable for their actions.  Our deposit policy helps protect us from those people.  Like the guy who said he'd be here on four separate occasions before he didn't show up.

Or the woman that emailed us to blame us for not showing up a week after she confirmed her appointment. 

Or the woman that completely changed her tattoo idea and cussed everyone in the shop because she was being unreasonable.

And that was just this month.

To those of you reading this who can't believe adults would ever act this way, we thank you.  We need more people like you.  We honestly have no idea what makes people behave like this. 

You should say what you do and do what you say.  That means keeping your word.  You should pay what you owe.  If you don't understand why this is the case, please don't come into Cardinal Tattoo.