What to do if I met with a tattoo artist, told him what I wanted and gave him a deposit but the tattoo was never done?

UPDATED: Jan 4, 2013

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What to do if I met with a tattoo artist, told him what I wanted and gave him a deposit but the tattoo was never done?

On the day of my appointment the tattoo artist showed me tracings of artwork that I sent him via email for inspiration but nothing was worth inking on my skin. He said he would draw some things so we set another appointment. After a couple emails where I made more design suggestions, he said he is not the artist for me. Since he called it off before our next scheduled meeting, I asked for my deposit back and he said no. He said he put too much work in and he would prove it. He then emailed a sketch which I had not seen before. I though it was a very good design and I would be willing to get it. He said I already offended him it was too late.

Asked on January 4, 2013 under Business Law, Connecticut


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It's unclear whether you are entitled to the money back. Normally, if you provide the other party a deposit for work or services and they do not provide what they were supposed to (never do the work), you are entitled to the deposit back. However, if you caused someone to expend an unreasonable amount of effort by being too "picky" and/or by not providing clear-enough guidance, that person may have a claim for an amount of money commensurate with the time he or she spent, or have a claim based on the theory that you violated the "implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing" by being unreasonable about the acceptance process. If he could sustain such a claim, the amount a court determines that you would owe him would be offset against your claim for the return of the deposit, which would very possibly result in him being allowed to keep the deposit.

While you could certainly try suing in small claims court, acting as your own attorney, where you would be risking little, it may be better to simply take the design you paid for  and seem to like to another tatoo artist to implement.

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