I am proud to say that I have been tattooed both in Europe and in the US. I’ve been tattooed over ten times, starting at the age of 20 and most recently last December. Along the way I’ve met some amazing artists and some equally amazing human beings. From the man who worked out of his living room, to a guy in London who worked out of a fancy studio on Portobello Rd. …I’ve worked with guys who’s specialty was incredible cover-up work, to a guy who didn’t use stencil transfers and just drew a sketch on my leg with a ballpoint pen. Most recently I worked with a guy who’s one of the most sought after watercolor tattoo artists in the country–Marcus Lund.
In all the years and places I’ve been tattooed, I’ve had nothing but great experiences, every bit of ink I have on my body comes with a good story that I love to sit and tell anyone who’s interested enough to listen.
To Me, From Me. A Birthday Gift
Last year I found some of the most amazing watercolor tattoo art images I had ever seen, via an online search. Upon seeking out the artist, I found that he was right in my own backyard. Well, almost.
Marcus Lund is currently based out of the 1603 Tattoo Collective in Ybor City, FL — just outside of Tampa. Since I live in Orlando, I considered myself pretty darn lucky to be so close.
It had been a tough couple of years for me leading up to 2016. Being completely sentimental, I decided to give myself the birthday gift of an amazing tattoo by an incredible artist. when I thought about the imagery I would want on my body forever, I decided to make it about my kids. I was a single mom of two amazing teenagers–I decided that I wanted two honey bees on daisies, one for each kid.
The Year-Long Wait
Marcus Lund is in such high demand, that I had to submit a $175 deposit and wait a year for my appointment with him. Being an artist myself, I decided that quality work was going to be worth the cost and the wait. I submitted my credit card number for deposit and scheduled my appointment for my birthday. I was so excited, I talked about it for a year to anyone who would listen.
Hey, wanna hear about my next tattoo?
In the summer of 2016, about a week before my appointment, Marcus and I had a consultation via FaceTime so that I could explain to him exactly what I wanted. In the week leading up to our consultation I had emailed him some images of watercolor painting styles I liked of bees and daisies, some images of his work that really spoke to me, and my concept. He was well informed.
Marcus was great to talk to because he gave me links of watercolor art to look at online, and he agreed with me that the bees and the flowers were great imagery for representing my kids. He told me that flower buds and blooms were symbolic of love, hope, and new beginnings. Bees and flowers go together like peas and carrots and this was good news to me, because I was already in love with the concept of honey bees being so incredibly important, despite being so darn small. “Don’t forget the little things.” The bees were a reminder of that for me.
I drove two hours over from Orlando to Tampa in Hurricane Hermine, despite the weather man telling me to hunker down and stay home. I called ahead and The Assistant told me that Marcus wasn’t cancelling any appointments. Come hell or high watercolor, I was getting this tattoo. A year is a long time to wait. I made it to Ybor City just before all hell broke loose with the weather; by the time I got into the 1603 Tattoo Collective, the rain was coming down in sheets.
I filled out my health department paperwork and release forms and waited. Marcus called me back and we talked about my tattoo. He had all kinds of amazing ideas about the colors and the atmospheric effects of my bees, but made no mention of the flowers. I reminded him that I also wanted flowers, as he worked on the computer to print out stencils for my bees. Marcus had no photos of flowers, just bees. He told me he worked in multiple sittings so that he could layer the color into the skin, and that the bees were going to need two sittings for two layers of color. Again no mention of the flowers.
When I left the shop it was three hours and six hundred dollars later. The bees already looked amazing and Marcus was a very interesting guy to talk to throughout the process. As a fellow classically trained artist, we talked about his oil painting and his formal fine art education. I truly enjoyed my experience. I asked Marcus about completing my vision for the tattoo as we headed for the door, and he told me to call his assistant for my next appointment.
The Customer Isn’t Always Right
The very next day I put a call in to The Assistant. Laura informed me that there was nothing available for my second sitting for four months, that if i wanted to come in any sooner than that, I’d have to wait for a cancellation. What? This was kind of confusing to me. Why would I have to wait four months for a second sitting when I had told Marcus months before my appointment exactly what I had in mind. I work full-time, have kids and dogs; I need to schedule two hour trips to Tampa in advance.
And what about my flowers?
There never was an opening via cancellation, it took four months for me to get my second layer of color to complete those bees. In December I drove back over to Ybor City, made my way to the 1603 Tattoo Collective and sat in Marcus’ chair for a second time. 2.5 hours and an additional $500 (keeping up with the math that’s now over $1K) later I had a second layer on my bees, but still no flowers. “No problem My Dear, just call my assistant and get scheduled for another appointment”
The next day I was informed by The Assistant that there were no openings and no availability for two years. Two years? Yes, two years.
I tried to get in on the cancellation list from December to present, with no luck. Either the assistant texted me in the morning and asked me to be in Tampa the same day (a two hour drive) or asked me about days when I was out of town working. We went back and forth a few times and then the correspondence went silent. Weeks went by and I had to reach out again to ask if I was actually on a cancellation list, or if she had forgotten about me. I gave her all the dates I was in town and available over the next few months and she responded that there was nothing available in my time period.
Remember that $175 deposit? Marcus still has it.
Last Ditch Effort
This week I reached out again and asked about just getting my deposit back, since I didn’t want to have to wait two years to finish my tattoo. I got a reply from a NEW, more aggressive assistant. Gone was Laura, who was friendly despite always being the bearer of bad news, in her place was a new person I had never dealt with before. “Marcus does not refund deposits for tattoos he’s already started work on, and there are NO exceptions.”
Ok, wow. I explained my situation, the time frame, the incomplete work, hoping maybe the old assistant had left some details behind and that the new one would realize who I was and help me out.
New Assistant got real aggressive, real fast. “Marcus does not work around anyone’s schedule, you work around Marcus.” She went on to tell me how he was booked out two years and that I’d have to just wait for a cancellation and that if I refused to do so, I would just lose my deposit. AND that she didn’t know anything about my prior conversations with the Old Assistant. At all.
Back and forth and back and forth until I was informed that I was going to lose my deposit and there was no flexibility in that policy.
What about my flowers? The love, hope, and new beginnings? Only Marcus knew how many hours he would need to compete the vision that I had presented to him from day-one. Only Marcus. Is it my fault that this was not scheduled and on the books as appointment times that I could add to my calendar and plan around beyond the first visit?
Question: do you think that an artist has the right to treat people this way simply because he is in high demand and very talented? Do you want to buy work (on your arm or for your wall) from an artist that tells you that you have to work around them, that they are inflexible and are not going to accommodate you in any way?
Have we completely lost the concept of customer service in our society? Whatever happened to the customer always being right? Or at least sometimes being right?
Personally I think that no matter how talented you are, you have to remember that there is always someone who is actually more talented. Nobody stays on top forever. I think Mr Lund could use a slice of humble pie.
I have always maintained that selling art is about building relationships with people. I am always honored (and humbled) when a collector returns to purchase a second or third piece of art from me.
What do you think?
for being a part of my
Here’s a listing of amazingly talented watercolor tattoo artists if you’re in the market: