Beantown Baggers


A few weeks ago I was in Los Angeles for work before ultimately taking a ride to Frazier Peak and Pyne Mountain (NorthEast of LA). The night before the ride a few of us went out for some grub and a couple beers when we ran into an old school biker who had some incredible road stories from the past 35 years. A person like this biker truly captures the essence of storytelling and legitimizes his tales with real world experiences.
One story he told was of a tattoo on his left arm and the negotiating process with the artist for the price of the work. Counter to what you think, he actually negotiated the price UP. The original rate was $500 but ultimately after a back-and-forth they settled on $850. The rationale here was that a tattoo is service related and not a commodity. If he were negotiating for saddlebags or a set of mirrors at a swap meet he would have asked for a discount and potentially walked away if the vendor didn’t come down enough in price. A tattoo artist doesn’t want his/her work to be trivialized in a bartering scenario (gotta hate a pissed off artist with a needle and permanent ink). When this happens, you will get what you pay for. Do you really want an artist just getting it done because you wanted to save $50 bucks?
Today I faced a similar situation. I’m having some work done to my Harley Springer and spoke with the painter who had some incredible ideas for my sheet metal. The 150 tanks on his site (and 10 live examples in his store) demonstrate his unquestionable ability to execute these concepts meaning I’m confident the work will be done to the highest standards. More importantly, the personal touches he will add will really make the paint job unique and amazing.

When we got to the end of the conversation the notion of cost came up. Normally I’m very good about negotiating cost and even better at walking away from a deal when I don’t get my way. I went into this conversation with a different disposition – I wanted the work done right – this paint is going on my Harley and the art represents specific meaning to me. I asked him how much to get it done right and then added $250 to make sure no corners are cut. He laughed and accepted my counteroffer with the assurance that it will be worth it
I know what you’re thinking – “but I’m not made of money and want custom for a discounted price”. I’m yet to meet a biker with unending funds and I am surely not the poster child for this category but the sage wisdom of the biker in LA resonated with me. If you can’t afford to have custom work done right (today) wait and get it done right when you can afford it. You don’t want to cut corners on tattoos or paint jobs – it’s like going to a cut-rate dentist for a route canal. You can do it, but it’s probably a bad idea.


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