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Pricing Tattoos

Why do you charge what you do? Asking for a friend.

   Understanding how tattoos are priced can be hard. I'm making it easy! There is no problem with wanting to know why. These are my personal thoughts on tattoo pricing and in no way is the information here rule of thumb for everyone. Every artist has their right to price their work however they choose. Pricing is a very controversial subject, but I'm diving in to how I price, and why, here in this blog post.

   Before I get into pricing, ask yourself. Are you wanting a tattoo done by just anyone? Are you basing an artist by your city? Or is finding an artist who you’ve researched and trust important to you? Finding an artist who is experienced, values tattoo education, uses up-to-date cleaning standards (like Covid cleaning protocols) , etc can make a difference in pricing. If you just want a tattoo, but you don’t really care about who does it, that’s completely OK too! But here’s the thing: not all tattoo artists are the same - we have many different styles of art, experience levels, cultures, tools, inks, aftercare, and more. Even further, some artists take walk-ins* at their shops, where there could be one, to multiple artists working (*walk-ins occur when you literally walk in to a studio with no previously scheduled appointment).  Some artist like myself operate out of a private studio, and in my case, alone. Some artists are certified, like myself, while others are not. These are all things that do change how your tattoo experience will go, and therefore, Tattoo pricing. 

   Aside from the type of artist, all artists have one thing in common - We all price our work based on our own standards of how we value our work and determine our worth. We also price based on what we deem fair for the work (time, materials used, uniqueness, etc).

   There are different ways to price a tattoo. Some people use "hourly rates", others use "day rates", and some use "flat rates". I am someone who uses flat rates to price. I also call it "pricing by the piece (of work)".  I judge prices based on size, detail, color, placement and customs.

  • Size: I go by how large, specifically in inches.
  • Detail: Some pieces are less or more complex in detail depending on the work/ art.
  • Color: Some tattoos are outlined in black ink only (the majority of my work), while others have shading. Some tattoos are outlined in colored inks or filled in with colored inks.
  • Placement: There are times where placement can affect pricing. For example, a throat tattoo or palm tattoo are different to apply on the body than an ankle tattoo or wrist tattoo. Very rarely do I use this to gauge pricing.
  • Custom designs: Most of my work is artwork that I create for clients based on their ideas. If someone wants a design like this, the inspiration and description of the design is very important. I create your vision into a beautiful and unique Tattoo no one else has.

 

“ I can’t afford a tattoo from you”, now what?

   It’s totally OK to not want to pay an artist price rate! Never feel pressured by an artist in anyway. It should feel comfortable to you, and the price should be one that you want to pay. While it is okay to say to an artist, "this isn’t something I can book right now", or "this is not in my tattoo budget", it can be rude to argue someone’s prices. Here are some options when you can’t afford an artist pricing:

  1. Find someone who can.
  • Price shop, ask different artists their pricing until you find someone who is a good fit.
  • Don’t forget you get what you pay for. It wouldn’t be wise to expect a stranger who charges less to do the exact same work as the artist that you like . 

     2. Have a tattoo savings.


     3. Ask your artist to break up the sessions.

  • Tell your artist that you want to work, but if you can break it up into different days. Maybe right now you can’t afford the beginning part of the project, but can come back later to pay the rest and finish. Some people may not be open to this or they will, but could possibly charge more for two sessions rather than all at once*. I've added an imaginary example:
    •   one session price: $700.
    •   the client has requested breaking up the job into two sessions:
      • session one $400
      • session to $400 $800 total.
* This price difference can be due to supplies, Appointment time blocking, etc. 
4. Ask if the artist charges less for groups or has any times of the year when they offer discounts.
  • Sometimes I will charge a small amount less for someone and their friend (because I like to!), but I’m not sure if any other artist do this. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to ask as long as you feel it isn’t going to come off rudely.

      5. Shop the artist's Merch/ Art.
  • While you wait and if you want to support the artist you like, you can always shop there art/web store! 

 

Now let's get into my starting prices for tattoos:

   You've made it this far (or you scrolled past the blabbing and straight to the dollar signs). Here is my starting price breakdown. "Starting price" is what I call a starting point for prices. It's the least amount of money, or a minimum, for the kind of tattoo being priced.

EXAMPLES OF TATTOOS:

(These tattoos were all done by me and I own the rights to these photos)

WORD TATTOOS:

  • 1 WORD TATTOO
 "Alise" about 3 inches long
  • 2 WORD TATTOO
 "memento mori" about 4 inches long
  • 3-5 WORD TATTOO
 "always a woman" about 4-5 inches long
  • 6-8 WORD TATTOO
 "I'm just a spirit trying to be human" about 6-7 inches long
  • 9-12 WORD TATTOO
 "accept what is let go of what was have faith in what will be" about 3x 7 inches
  • 13-20 WORD TATTOO

  "success is the goal, a better life is the motivation, and creating change will be the definition of my legacy." about 19 inches long

  • 21-30 WORD TATTOO 

 "For as long as I live I will fear no evil for I know you are with me I will never give ump and I will never stop the fight Amen..." about 7x7 inches

 

OUTLINE DESIGNS:

  • OUTLINE DESIGN LESS DETAIL
 rose outline about 2x2 inches
  • OUTLINE DESIGN LESS DETAIL, WITH SHADING

 butterfly with shading about 3x3 inches

  • OUTLINE DESIGN, MORE DETAIL
 geometric hearts about 4x4 inches
  • OUTLINE DESIGN, MORE DETAIL, WITH SHADING
 snakes from "The Neverending Story" about 4x4 inches

CUSTOM DESIGNS:

  • CUSTOM DESIGN, LESS DETAIL
 woman's face with flower line-design about 3x3 inches
  • CUSTOM DESIGN, LESS DETAIL, WITH SHADING
 lotus flower, unalome and Dwayne about 5x1 inches
  • CUSTOM DESIGN, MORE DETAIL
  Eve and the snake about 8x8 inches
  • CUSTOM DESIGN, MORE DETAIL, WITH SHADING
 Ganesha about 10x5 inches

Now you know it all. 

   I hope this article helped you to understand the way pricing works, and gives you a better idea of how I price my tattoos. I think overall its important to remember that:
  1. Every artist is different and so is their pricing.
  2. Unless you're comfortable with someones pricing, don't book.
  3. I price mainly based on size, detail, color, placement and custom designs.
  4. Prices aren't final until discussed and made clear. So its best to get exact pricing before booking!

Time to book?

   For booking information click here! Had enough reading for one day? Check out the instagram page for @AmericanDebbie by clicking.