by Boff Konkerz


I have been guesting around Europe for about 3 years and in my time as an itinerant tattooist I like to believe I have learnt the best ways to promote a guest artist and I'm now ready to share this information with you. Some studios already know and follow these guidelines, others don't have a clue.


1.  Facebook/Instagram/Twitter- the best way to get information to as many people as possible is to use social networking sites.

Post regularly. Most people will not see every post you make, so the more posts the better. If an artist is working with you I recommend posting as soon as the guest-spot is confirmed and then doing so every week until the spot begins. Once the guest-spot has begun, if the artist is not fully booked it’s advisable to make posts as the guest-spot commences to fill spaces nearer the end of the visit.

Add a picture. Always include a recent picture of the kind of work the artist would like to do while they are with you. It's very easy to make a folder of images and use this, rather than having to source a new image every time. Add a different picture each time you make a new post, as this will get more attention. Do not simply repost the same one as the previous week.

Take a little time to describe the tattooist, the work they do, technique they use and where they're from. People are often impressed by tattooists who have made the effort to travel a long way to guest or who come from a town/studio that is perceived as “cool”. This can be enough to persuade a potential client from maybe to definitely.

Tag the artist in every post. This enables them to see any comments on the post that they may be able to address themselves. It also lets them know that you are posting regularly and are doing your best to find them work, and it enables clients to go directly to their profile by following the link.

Add links to the artist’s personal webpage, if they have one.

Ask any tattooists, piercers, receptionists, managers or other shop workers to share each post. Regular customers of the shop and/or clients the artist has tattooed on previous visits may also help out with this and will probably be happy to do so. People like to be involved.

All of this is relatively easy to do once you develop a system. The best thing to do is get someone who's not tattooing, an apprentice, receptionist or manager, to do this as part of their duties. If it's a regular practice done every Saturday morning it can all be done in less than 10 minutes. It's better to post at weekends and evenings when people are less likely to be at work and more likely to be wasting time online.

Please bear in mind that the organic reach of Facebook has shrunk in recent times. When I first started guesting, a post would reach many people and there'd be a lot of feedback. This is no longer the case. Facebook's organic reach is down to 1% and it's easy to think your work or the work of your guest is no longer as in demand as it was a few years ago. Interaction with clients has convinced me this is not the case. If people do not know your guest is coming they won't book in. While it’s still worth using Facebook it is not enough to rely on it any more, nor is it a good idea to pay to boost posts as they will not reach your target audience. It makes good business sense for paid Facebook posts to appear successful, that’s why your paid posts will get many likes, but very little actual feedback. This is explained in this video, and this article.


2.  Personal contact - The internet is the quickest way to reach a large group of people, but word of mouth is still more effective. Engage clients who you think may be interested in acquiring something from the guest, collectors or people who like the style of work the guest does. Again, people like to be involved and saying to someone “we have an artist coming over whose work I think you'd really like” can be a good way of letting clients know that you're thinking of them, even that you think they have good taste. People respond very strongly to this kind of personal marketing.


3.  It's also a good idea to ask the artist to send business cards and/or fliers to the studio. If you put something in a client's hand there's a good chance they'll check the artist out, whereas if you just tell them they may forget. Also some tattoo fans like to collect cards and fliers and having one around will keep the artist and the studio in their minds.


4.  Inform the receptionist to pass some work that would suit the guest to the guest. Receptionists often forget about guest artists and will pass work to permanent members of staff, even when the permanent artist is booked up for weeks and the guest has space to fill. It's important that everyone in the studio knows the guest is coming and the type of work they do.


5.  Do not rely on an artist getting their own work. By their nature a guest artist will be coming over from another area and it's the studio that has the local contacts. While some artist will have a huge internet presence and be able to fill their spot very easily, others will be unknown in the area and will need you to get them work. Ultimately it's the studios responsibility to get the artist work, that's what the artist is paying a percentage for. Speaking from personal experience I can say that guest spots that aren't promoted properly are a drag. The only reason I have cancelled spots have been from lack of interest, and surprisingly enough it's studios who do not spend time promoting the guest spot that have the least interest from clients.


6.  Deposits. It is of upmost importance to take deposits for guest artists, even if this is not something you are strict with when it comes to full time artists. Guests have often invested a lot of time and money to do a guest spot (flights, train tickets, etc.), and having a no show is worse when you've flown in from hundreds of miles away than when you've just come from around the corner. Always take a decent sized deposit. I recommend doubling the deposit you take for a resident artist. 


7.  In conclusion- The key to everything is repetition; the points I made earlier need to be repeated until the spot is full. Facebook is not as good a tool as it used to be, so what worked in the past may not work as effectively now. Just because artist A has a million followers on Instagram and can fill their spot quickly by themselves, does not mean artist B will be able to do the same. Just because it was easy to get artist B a weeks’ worth of work with a couple of Facebook posts a few years, doesn't mean the same approach will get them busy today. It's going to be harder to fill spots with social networking as time passes, but I think it's still worth studios having guests and it's still valid to be a guest artist.


If you promote correctly then having guest artists will benefit both the studio and the artist. Guests bring extra attention to a studio and make them seem more dynamic and connected to the tattoo world beyond their location. A lot of studios are doing this already, but there might be points in there that people will find useful.