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Redditor Livid After Discovering Tattoo Artist Secretly Hid Her Initials In Tattoo Honoring Grandfather

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Trust isn’t always earned.

Sometimes, trust is implicit to some professions.

When you go to the doctor, or a mechanic, or even your I.T. person, a certain level of trust is required to even accept their services.

So, what happens when you go to a professional and that assumed trust isn’t just violated but completely broken.

This was the question facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) TattoodNoobAITA when they came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for some outside opinions.

They asked:

“AITA for getting mad my artist hid their initials in my tattoo?” 

OP began with a quick background.

“This is a short one. Names changed for privacy.”

“I went to a tattoo shop in my area, with a photo of the tattoo I wanted.”

“It was one my dad had gotten to honor my passed grandfather who’s father also had it. But the point is – it was important to me that the tattoo looked EXACTLY as it did in the photo.”

“I get to the shop, I explain everything, I pay, get the tattoo, and we’re done, I think it looks awesome, everything is great!”

Everything was fine, Until…

“Until a few weeks later when I show my great grandmother the tattoo. She’s static, grabs my arm to look at and compliment it, then asks, ‘Who’s AJ?’ “

“I ask her what she means, and she points out on the tattoo where the initials A and J or maybe T were hidden into the tattoo.”

“I’m instantly p*ssed, as my artists name is Alice Trever. She tries to assure me it’s no big deal if I hadn’t noticed it til now, but I still reached out to the artist sort of irritated.”

“They told me the style of art I got is called traditional and it’s “pretty trad” for all artists who do that style to do it.”

“I demanded a partial refund and they refused, so I complained to the owner who made the artist give me a full refund.”

“Now the artist is running a full smear campaign, talking about moving shops, and all kinds of crap.”

“My sister says I’m an a**hole for pushing the issue, but I feel like, at the end of the day, I told you exactly what I wanted and you didn’t do that.”

OP was left to wonder,


Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for clarity.

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided: NTA

There were a lot of personal stories.

“I recently got a couple new tattoos and one of them has script in my mom’s handwriting.”

“My artist was so careful to make sure it was still her handwriting; she had me ask my mom to do it on a hilly slant since it’s with a flower stem.”

“I have a lot of trust in her and I’m obsessed with both of my new pieces. It’s nice to work with someone that isn’t super pushy and that I could trust to get what I wanted.”

“I would be LIVID in OP’s position.” ~ livlivesforbrains


“Yeah, the artist who did my grandmother’s handwriting was very careful and took multiple samples of hers to make certain she had it right and had both my mom and I look over everything multiple times.”

“She was so gentle and careful with it! The experience meant so much to my entire family!”

“There was a small bump with it because I had a muscle spasm, but it was where we were smoothing out a bump that was a sign of her old age in one of the loops compared to the other samples (we just liked her writing the best otherwise on this one.)”

“But, the artist, my family and everyone who knew her and I agreed it was my grandmother was trying to tell me not to f*ck with her writing from beyond, haha.”

“So glad that you had a similar experience with such a meaningful tattoo!” ~ Dravvie

Others pointed out that it isn’t just art, it’s a person.


“I’m a tattooed guy and this thing is incredibly gross, she ruined a meaningful piece of art and she branded your own body without giving you a heads up… And now she’s trying to play victim over it?”

“Are these details discussed in this ‘smear campaign’ of hers?”

“If I were you (and with the store owner’s blessing), I’d intervene and explain to everyone exactly what she did, because that sh*t will get her trashed pretty bad in the tattoo community”

“ETA: You know what, scratch ‘with the store owner’s blessing’, she’s dragging their name in the mud anyway, and you gotta protect her future clients from this b*llsh*t” ~ exaltedbythesun


“NTA, that’s not at all normal.”

“Like at all.”

“It doesn’t matter if it isn’t easily noticeable, your tattoo artist can’t just up and decide they want to add their initials or another identifier to something you paid them to create on your body without your consent.”

“As far as the artist trying to go on a smear campaign, you should bring awareness to this.”

“Chances are this could’ve been done to other peoples tattoos as well and any shop your tattoo artist may try to move to should know that they’ve done this.” ~ detrminedndestitute

There was also the matter of trust.

“I’m so mad for OP. Like, BEYOND heated.”

“We trust our artists implicitly and this woman took advantage of that. It’s so fucking gross and I hope that OP is telling everyone they know not to go to this broad.”

“I expect a person tattooing me to use their own creativity since it’s their whole deal, but also to not be disrespectful of my body.”

“This had nothing to do with artistry and everything to do with being a self-centered a**hole.”

“Serious r/iamthemaincharacter vibes.” ~ livlivesforbrains



“This is so, so, so messed up.”

“I have many large and elaborate tattoos, and my artist would never violate my trust like that.”

“We review the designs, the colors, and the stencils.”

“The thought that she would brand you with her initials makes me effing sick to my stomach.”

“Even as an experienced tattooed person, one of my biggest irrational fears is being tattooed with something against my consent.”

“This is a violation of your body and trust. “

“I’m so sorry this happened, ESPECIALLY with an incredibly sentimental tattoo. Fight tooth and nail against that artist’s campaign.”

“You have done NOTHING wrong and they have done EVERYTHING wrong.” ~ yabasicjanet

Commenters suggested legal action.

“Tattoo artist must be licensed, correct?”

“I’m pretty sure it’s a requirement in each state here in the US. I’d also imagine it’s like that in most countries as well.”

“Maybe OP should contact the organization that licensed the tattoo artist for possible revocation of their tattoo license.”

“OP, NTA and please do go after this artist in any legal manner, so they can’t try the same thing on other unsuspecting customers.” ~ Kilran3

Responses also advised of what to look for in a good Tattoo Parlor.


“I have tattoos and none of the artists ‘branded’ me with their initials.”

“It is not ‘trad’ in the industry to ‘sign’ your name on people.”

“That tattooist you used was on an ego trip, and you did not consent to being branded by her.”

“The fact she did not inform you that she ‘signs’ her work goes to show she knew it was wrong.”

“Tattoos are permanent and expensive- you should have gotten exactly what you agreed to.”

“Not sure about your tattoo shop, but each of mine had me sign an agreement that I wasn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol, wasn’t under duress to have the tattoo, and that I agree to the image and placement of the tattoo.”

“The owner of the shop did right by you by ensuring she refunded you.”

“If she keeps up with her tirade, and brings you into it by name, then you should call her out on her BS.”

“It’s likely she had a bunch of other clients who weren’t aware they’re carrying her initials (think back, neck, legs, and other areas the client may not be able to see clear details), and may not be happy about it.”

“Your sister is wrong, and it’s not her body, therefore she has no say.”

“I hope there’s a way to cover up the initials, maybe have the area (painfully) lasered off and eventually redone.”

“I am so sorry you went through this.”

“In case you need further validation, surgeons have been caught ‘branding’ their initials on their patients’ organs.”

“(Think cardiac surgery, transplants, liver procedures) by other surgeons who performed surgeries later on those patients, which led to those previous surgeons being suspended, even losing their licenses.” ~ SilentCounter6750

Implicit trust is vital to so many professions.

Doctors, lawyers and tattoo artists all require a certain level of faith to function in their jobs.

So, be wary of anyone who violates that very special code of ethics, and always do your best to weed out those bad apples before they have the chance.

Written by Frank Geier

Frank Geier (pronouns he/him) is a nerd and father of three who recently moved to Alabama. He is an avid roleplayer and storyteller occasionally masquerading as a rational human.