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You Get What You Pay For

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Tattoos have no MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price). There are so many variables that effect the price of the tattoo.

Some are obvious, like artist experience and skill. Others are not as tangible, style, notoriety or exposure. There is no hard and fast way to determine value vs cost, it depends on what is most valued to you.

So if your cousin Jimmy texts you and says “Just got my “tattoo artist in a box” set off eBay! Come over and get some ink!” One might suggest you avoid cousin Jimmy, but you certainly wouldn’t expect to pay Jimmy more than for the guinea pig special.

The gray area comes in with skill and experience. Not every 20 year artist is skilled and not every skilled artist has been tattooing for 5+ years. Do your research, look at examples of tattoos, take advantage of the wonders of social media. Don’t be shocked if an experienced skilled artist charges $150/hour for a tattoo. Don’t be surprised if your Monet painting turned into a sleeve costs thousands of dollars to complete. And don’t be surprised if in a month cousin Jimmy wants to charge you $100/hour after he watched some YouTube videos on how to tattoo. Run.

Factors that determine a tattoo’s price:

  • The speed of the artist – some artists know they are slower, they might charge a flat rate, knowing that they take longer
  • The placement of the tattoo – where you decide to get the tattoo.
  • The design- the more elaborate the design, the more it will cost you.
  • The colors- the more colors that the design entails, the more the tattoo will cost.
  • The size- the bigger the tattoo, the more it will cost.
  • From a flash or original- if you choose a tattoo right off of a flash, it doesn’t take the artist much to just copy and tweak, versus come up with an original design, some artists factor in the time spent drawing the tattoo into the final cost.
  • The time it takes to complete- some tattoo shops charge an hourly fee, so depending on how long it takes to get your tattoo, the final price may increase.
  • Location: the price of the tattoo will vary on your location and the tattoo shop and artist.

Guy A charges $100 for poor quality.
Guy B charges $200 for medium quality.
Guy C charges $150 for good/ decent (better than medium) quality.
Guy D charges $250 for great quality.
You have to be the one to make the final decision, as to how the benefit of the quality weighs in regards to the price.


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