It has never been truer in any other industry that you get what you pay for. Tattoos are specialty pieces of art work, and the artists that give them to you have spent years honing their craft, and have earned the right to charge a respectable fee for what they do. In fact, if an artist is offering you a deal that seems to be “too good to be true,” well it probably is.
The average cost of a tattoo is between $100.00 to $125.00 per hour. This is a lesson that is most often learned the hard way, exactly the same way that I had to learn it. As the saying goes, “with age comes wisdom,” well… they were not lying. In my early days of getting inked, I did exactly what I now preach against; I shopped around for the cheapest price I could find without looking at the credentials (portfolio) of the artists. I ended up eventually settling on a shop and artist who will remain nameless and I ended up paying the price both literally and hypothetically. Now eight to nine years later I am having to pay premium prices to have all of this sub-par work covered up. Hindsight is 20/20.
If I could back in time and tell my younger self anything on the subject, it would be to go with whoever was going to charge me the most for what I was asking for. Now, I am not saying that you are going to be held hostage to these prices for the rest of your life. As the years go by you will begin to form relationships with your artists that will allow you certain privileges moving forward. I do have one artist who only charge me sixty-five dollars per hour. Over the seven years he has been putting ink into my skin we have become good friends outside of the tattoo shop, but for those first couple of years I still paid the same prices that everyone else did. In other words, you have to earn that discount price.
One last piece of advice I will leave with you prospective tattoo clients. NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, walk into a shop and try and weasel a lower price out of an artist by telling them that the guy down the street said that he would do it for a cheaper price.