Getting a tattoo can be difficult, especially if we’re talking about your first time getting inked. However, generally speaking, it is a pretty straightforward process of finding a good tattoo artist, choosing a design for your tattoo, and of course, going through the tattooing process.
However, one thing people often consider the most struggling factor regarding tattoos is their cost. Tattoos require some serious cash and the prices for tattoos and hourly tattooing rates seem to just get higher every year. So, one cannot help but wonder whether this high price is justifiable, and if so, what are the main reasons for such a high cost.
We’ve decided to tackle these completely legit questions once and for all. In the following paragraphs, we’ll go through the main factors that determine tattoo costs, so let’s jump right in!
Why Are Tattoos So Expensive?
Tattoo Artist’s Expertise
Tattoo artists, even long before they actually become professional tattooists, have to go through a lot of practice, training, education, and unpaid work to get where they are. The investment it requires to become a tattoo artist is up there in the dozens of thousands of dollars real, which is serious money. Once a tattoo artist finally finishes their apprenticeship and is clear to work as a professional, it can still be hard to book paying clients since everybody wants their tattoos done by someone with years-long experience in the industry.
It can take years before a tattoo artist becomes truly established in the tattooing scene and starts earning money. That is when, after years of experience, they can finally charge for their incredible work. As logic follows, no sane person would charge little for a craft they’ve mastered over years of training and unpaid work.
When paying for a tattoo, one needs to keep in mind that it is far from easy to become a tattoo artist, an independent shop owner, as well as get enough experience to be able to do permanent and impeccable body artwork on someone’s body. Sure, a starting artist will not charge as high as an established, experienced tattoo artist, but still, a tattoo artist’s expertise definitely, and rightfully, affects the cost of the tattoo as well as the hourly rate.
Tattoo Artist’s Prep Work
Some clients come to a tattoo studio with a tattoo design in mind, which is surely the easiest way to get a tattoo done. However, the majority of clients nowadays want unique designs, specifically custom-created for them. In this case, the tattoo cost will significantly increase since you’re no longer just paying for the tattooing part of the process, but also for the design creation.
In this case, the tattoo artist needs to come up with a design (in line with your wishes, that you’ll like), draw it onto suitable paper (which will translate the design onto your skin), and then adjust it and fix it as much as required, until you’re fully satisfied. Not only does this take from the tattoo artist’s time, but it costs them, even more, to go through a custom design thanks to all the additional, highly required equipment, like the specialized sketch paper, tablets, specialized pencils, colors, etc.
Tattoo Artist’s Shop
Tattooing is one of the riskiest industries with a lot of hidden costs; a tattoo artist needs to pay the shop rent and all of the equipment, as well as pay for other tattoo artists/workers at the shop, the insurance rates, the license, waste removal, and so much more. All of this goes out of the pocket of the tattoo artist. On average, a one-hour tattoo can cost anywhere between $150 and $300, which is completely understandable considering all the additional expenses the tattoo artist has to cover, especially as a show-owner.
We cannot simply gloss over the fact that tattoo artists need to use the highest quality, completely sanitized equipment every time they’re doing a tattoo. Regardless of whether they’re doing the tiniest tattoo in 20 minutes or a tattoo that requires several sessions, they still need to use brand new equipment (as well as sanitize and disinfect that standard equipment).
The tattoo artists need to pay for new needles, tattoo ink, gauze, tape, creams, tattoo covers, disinfecting equipment, special vegan products as well, soaps, ointments, etc. All of this adds up to the overall expenses, which further proves that the overall tattoo cost, though high, is actually completely justifiable.
The Tattoo Itself (Size, Placement, Color, Details)
Honestly, one cannot control the amount of money a tattoo artist requires for their hourly rate; that is something they set and it is generally set in stone as well. However, one thing clients can do to adjust the final cost of the tattoo is the tattoo itself.
Now, the final tattoo cost is determined by the following factors as well;
- The size of the tattoo (the bigger the tattoo, the more it will cost)
- The placement of the tattoo (the more difficult a placement on the body is, the higher the cost of the tattoo; a tattoo on the head or the private parts won’t cost the same as a forearm tattoo)
- The color of the tattoo (color tattoos are more expensive than black&grey tattoos)
- Details and intricacy of the tattoo (additional detailing, shading, line work, dotting, etc., all affect the final cost of the tattoo – the more detailing you to require, the higher the tattoo cost)
Sometimes, clients go for small tattoo designs placed on easy-to-access body areas, which all contribute to a lower final cost. However, some clients want their tattoos big, highly intricate, colored, or placed somewhere difficult to access; this makes the tattoo final costs significantly higher. For better understanding; tattoo artists have their usual hourly rate for a tattoo, to which they can add additional, let’s say $20 to $30 for every inch of the tattoo.
We do agree that tattoos can be super expensive. The prices seem to increase every time we visit a tattoo shop, and all of it simply makes some people postpone their tattooing adventure. People have to save up for a month to get a tattoo done, which is pretty disappointing. However, when we break down all the costs and expenses tattoo artists have to go through every month just to keep their shop and work going, the expensive tattoos are actually justified.
Just bear in mind that tattoos are something permanent; they will stay there in your skin forever, and when you’re ‘buying’ something that lasts forever, then you might as well invest in it. For comparison, people spend hundreds of dollars on sneakers but complain about having to spend the same amount of money to get someone to push ink into their skin and create a mindblowing art design. We believe that tattoos are worth the money, and even worth saving up for.