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Business and Mindset: Urgent vs Important The Tattooers Struggle Inside Fireside EP 278

Urgent vs Important: The Tattooer's Struggle | Inside Fireside | EP 278

This is a sneak peak of what you can find in the Inside Fireside Tattoo Club. We’ve curated this particular conversation because we think it exemplifies one of the pillars of what the group is trying to achieve as a whole. Creating conversations and provoking discussions that help tattooers get out of their own head and into their careers to make progress.

Groups like ours have started to appear more regularly as tattooing has grown year after year. It’s clear that support, community, and education is much needed in order to keep tattooing moving forwards and evolving into a proper industry.

We really hope that you enjoy this conversation and get as much out of it as the members who were a part of it. And if you’re interested in learning more check out the links throughout the page. We hope that you come join us in trying to make tattooing better than we found it!

This episode was made possible thanks to:



Interview by By Jake Meeks —

Writing By Daniel Pushcarich —

Topics: Tattoo Mindset, Tattoo Business, Tattoo Education, Mastermind Groups, Tattoo Community, Tattoo Industry, Tattooing


Lyndon Korcala Tattoo Designs


“ Get audacious as fuck about it! Make sure your goals are so big that maybe you can't even see it being done. Go BIG! And then you can start scaling down into what you can do to actually make those big goals happen.”

Derek Youngberg





Inside Fireside Tattoo Club


  • [00:00] Opening Salvo
  • [02:04] The Cost of Discounting YOURSELF
  • [11:33] The Purpose of The Decision Determines The Effect
  • [17:37] Your Creativity Is Not Just Art, It's the Whole Package
  • [22:52] You Can Do Anything, But You Can't Do Everything
  • [27:01] The Power of Thinking in Timelines
  • [33:22] The Magic of Thinking Big
  • [36:56] Tattoo Industry Education Needs an Upgrade
  • [42:14] Theory Of Constraints & Setting Expectations
  • [45:08] Finding Ways to Give Back to The Industry
  • [48:09] Having Multiple Voices In Education Is Necessary
  • [56:00] Having A Support Group Is Crucial, And The Idea of Letting Go
  • [1:00:42] Projects Vs Pieces, and The 80/20 Principle
  • [1:05:21] Catering To A Higher End Client Without Losing Creative Control
  • [1:08:11] Everyone Feels That Way All the Time In Tattooing… It Sucks, Let’s GO!
  • [1:12:03] If You Have "Priorities" Then You Have No "Priority"
  • [1:14:41] Creating A Small Team To Support Your Weaknesses
  • [1:19:34] Interested in Inside Fireside? Come Check us Out

Mickey Schlick 3d Sculpture and Tattoo


Shifting the Mindset of The Tattoo Community

I wanted to touch on a couple of key points in the conversation that I think a lot of artists struggle with in tattooing. Sometimes if you're just running the show alone it can be daunting and it feels like you're spinning your wheels making progress. Having other artists or entrepreneurs around to talk with and bounce ideas off of can oftentimes boost your morale and allow new ideas and possibilities to flourish.

These are just a few of those kinds of ideas.


The Dilemma of Urgent vs Important:

There are occasions in an artist's career where resources and money can be tight. Maybe it’s “slow season” or you’ve moved to a different area where you have to make new clientele, medical reasons, and the list goes on. These things can often lead to panic and rash, short-term thinking. 

Let’s take the idea of discounting your tattoos to wrangle new clients. 

One reason you might do this would be to make a quick cash grab because people see that you’re doing the same work but for cheaper. This can give you some quick cash but it diminishes the quality of clients because there’s a high chance they’ll only return if you discount again. I mean why would anyone want to spend top dollar when there’s a chance to get it cheaper if they just wait.

Another reason you might discount would be to try something new in your designs or switching to an uncomfortable style, like going from illustrative to realism. You might want to discount something like this in the beginning because this lowers the risk for the clients while building your portfolio with work that you’re trying to move into. The when you feel more comfortable you have clientele that trusts you and a potential for a higher rate to go along with your new skillset.

Making decisions solely based on immediate needs can lead to challenges in planning for the long term, creating a disconnect between short-term solutions and future aspirations. The struggle arises when short-term solutions, like offering discounts, result in unintended consequences that impact relationships with clients and overall business stability.

  • Urgent decisions may solve immediate problems but often lead to negative consequences in the long run.
  • Important decisions, on the other hand, are focused on long-term benefits.


Designing a Compelling Future:

Setting audacious goals, even ones that may seem impossible, is crucial for personal growth. It's essential to think big initially and then scale down to achieve those goals effectively. But by envisioning big goals, you can instill the necessary motivation and determination to progress.

So let’s talk about one tactic you can use to “scale down” and make attainable steps to reach those big, seemingly crazy goals, DEADLINES! Deadlines are crucial for completing tasks and achieving set goals. Having specific timeframes helps by providing structure and motivation. Oftentimes failing to adhere to deadlines often leads to delayed or unfinished work or progress, hindering progress and possibly disappointing other people that are working around you.

As an example, turning in work on time during a paid class. I like to use this because it uses two frames of accountability, time and money. If you’re held tight to a deadline and your projects are submitted within that time frame, it allows for receiving valuable feedback from instructors. If you do the work but miss the submission time then you lose out on any serious insight that could have been gained, and the class moves on without you. Now what? You’ve lost an opportunity for serious growth and then that feels like a waste of time and resources.

Designing a compelling future involves setting ambitious goals that drive one's actions. Many tattoo artists miss out on intentionally creating a vision for their future career growth. By focusing on innovative ideas within the artistic realm, one can feed creativity, passion, and values.


Projects Vs Pieces, and The 80/20 Principle:

Further Into the discussion it revolves around long-term goals in tattooing, focusing on achieving a balance between projects and individual pieces. The aim is to secure a consistent flow of larger projects, like sleeves and leg pieces, to stabilize booking schedules and finances. An adaptation of the 80/20 principle, termed "Top 20 & Farm club," emphasizes identifying ideal clients and tailoring services to attract similar ones, reducing the need for numerous smaller projects.

This involves pinpointing characteristics of ideal clients and replicating them to attract similar individuals. By serving a select group of top clients well and targeting a broader audience with similar traits, artists can streamline their workload and focus on fewer, more substantial projects. This strategy aligns with the concept of pursuing "moonshot" goals, aiming for significant leaps in revenue by optimizing core strengths rather than incremental improvements.

Transitioning from a high volume of smaller tattoos to fewer, higher-paying projects requires strategic adjustments and a shift in mindset. Instead of discounting services or pursuing numerous clients, the focus shifts to providing exceptional service to a select clientele and leveraging similarities to attract similar patrons. This shift not only streamlines the workload but also fosters a more sustainable and financially rewarding tattooing career in the long run.


Kurt Jacobsen Water tattoo Designs




[17:37] Your Creativity Is Not Just Art, It's the Whole Package

“Usually we'll make a choice out of something that seems like it has to happen today and sometimes you just need to take a moment and really kind of plan that out in a different way so that you're making the right choices for your client and for yourself to feel good about the tattoos that you're doing.

— Derek Youngberg 


[25:17] You Can Do Anything, But You Can't Do Everything

“If I wanted to raise my revenues from 100, 000 a year to Half a million dollars a year. Almost everything that I do today will keep me from being able to do that. In fact, all I can do is focus on the thing I do the very, very, very best. And then build everything else around that. ”

— Jake Meeks


[42:14] Theory Of Constraints & Setting Expectations

“the fact that you're giving people so many options. Means they're never going to get it done. If you're like, oh, I'm here for you to book whenever they might not ever book. If you're like, hey, book me Wednesday at 4, they're going to be there.”

— Mickey Schlick


[1:08:11] Everyone Feels That Way All the Time In Tattooing… It Sucks, Let’s GO!

“Embrace the parts that make you feel insecure, so you have to try harder and get better with that effort. So, whatever motivation you need for that effort, I always let it drive me. And, I think that could be helpful to people.”

— Mickey Schlick

Anthony Pulitano Tattoo Designs




Want more tattoo education and resources?

Check out our Business & Mindset catalog HERE!

And Check out the full fireside course catalog HERE!


The Fireside Tattoo Network is home to the Fireside podcast, Fireside Technique video series and our Fireside Weekly blog.

The Fireside Tattoo podcast is hosted by veteran tattooer Jake Meeks, check out our episodes where we discuss, argue and wax philosophical, from tips for all levels of artists to trends in the tattoo world. Many guest artists have sat down for interviews and in-depth conversations and many more are planned…check back often!

Our Fireside Tattoo Overview video series offers informative, short, and detailed videos geared towards helping artists understand the science and nuances of tattoos and make more informed decisions to improve their work. We often take some of our more technical topics from our Fireside podcast and film an in-depth, narrated, time-lapse video showing exactly how Jake or our featured artists handle certain issues.

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Business and Mindset

Running a tattoo business requires a completely different skill set than putting tattoos into skin. As tattooers, we tend to put all of our emphasis on the technical aspects of tattooing. Unfortunately for shop owners and tattoo entrepreneurs, tattooing is only one small piece of the puzzle when it comes to the business of tattooing. 

Fireside is here to help:

  • Tricks for ordering supplies for your crew
  • Creating goals for your shop
  • Upholding tattoo shop values 

We also have plenty of Business and Mindset Deep Dive content to help you avoid the most common pitfalls of shop owners.

Check these pages out

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