Choosing to be a tattoo artist as a full-time career can be terrifying for many. Especially for those who live on their own, have families, or need to create a specific amount to survive. The industry has its ups and downs, when the economy starts tanking, nobody needs tattoos.
While these down periods can be upsetting for tattoo artists, there is something much more frustrating that occurs on a daily basis.
This occurrence which plagues tattoo artists the most is the way many tend to look at them—as a charity.
There are many clients out there who understand that you get what you pay for. You want a good piece of artwork, you are going to have to pay the price for a good artist. These clients are great in the fact that they don’t haggle, they don’t argue, they don’t bargain. They simply quote out the piece and save up for the best quality of work.
There are some clients who want tattoos without the effort of saving and will settle for work that is less than awesome. Those clients are great, too.
But, there are groups of individuals who cannot simply understand why tattooing is so expensive and why they aren’t getting a cheaper price.
Let’s break this down, shall we?
If an artist uses high-quality gear and supplies—which can, in turn, produce better quality work—they already have a set price which they cannot drop below just to simply pay for the supplies. These supplies include, but are not limited to:
-petroleum or non-petroleum jelly
-paper towels (an insane amount, believe it or not)
-gloves, gloves, gloves, and more gloves
-pillow covers (in some cases)
-liquid solidifiers, wetting solutions, etc
-aftercare (in some cases, included)
…That’s not including any of the materials required beforehand in the drawing process, like printer ink, paper, pencils, pens, and more. There’s a lot involved. And that’s just materials.
Then, you’ve got wear and tear on the tattoo machine (machines can range from 500 to 5000), stencil machine, power supply, clipcord, printer, etc.
And, of course, let’s not forget the artist’s time both before and during the actual tattoo. Higher quality artists can charge anywhere from 1500-2000 an hour, so when they are asked for deals, they are losing a coveted time slot that could have been utilized by a full-paying client.
Tattoo artists aren’t paid by the hour by their establishment. They aren’t offered health benefits, retirement plans, or bonuses. In some cases, they have to provide their own supplies, tools, equipment, and marketing.
Tattoos still being handmade items, some designs for tattoos, sleeves and such can take up to 20 or more hours of research and development, and that tattoo artists are “altering your body forever—the same as surgery”.
“Tattoos are a luxury so… if you can’t afford them you can’t have them.”
So, the next time you’re trying to figure out why your tattoo artist didn’t give you a break, think back on this post and remind yourself—good tattoos ain’t cheap, cheap tattoos ain’t good.