5 Factors That Determine a Tattoo Artist's Rate



what's up guys I'm James Witte and today we're going to talk about five different factors that influence how much a tattoo artist charges [Applause] alright so in my last video I discussed three different ways that tattoo artists structure their pricing and today I'm going to go ahead and build on that and you know work towards the demystification of this entire like how much the tattoos cost type a subject by talking about five different factors that influence how much an individual artist charges so I have separated those factors into five different categories and those our skill level speed notoriety style and location okay so the first factor I'm going to talk about is skill level obviously the better somebody is at tattooing like the better looking tattoos they create the more people are going to be looking to get tattooed by them and the more people looking to get tattooed by them the more that person is going to be able to charge the more that person will charge so when I talk about skill level basically there's two sides to it right there is the technical side which basically means like how straight the lines are how solid the color was packed like whether or not the tattoo was executed in a way that doesn't overwork the skin and makes it so it's going to get a good heal and then there's the artistic side which basically means like how visually appealing the tattoos they're creating are so you know composition like how things are placed and like whether things are positioned properly color choices you know whether or not it was just a good drawing in general and that sort of thing so I know the artistic side is a little bit subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder but there is like you know a phenomenon where if somebody is very good or whatever and like generally agreed upon to have really great looking tattoos then they will be charging more money because you know their perceived skill level is very high and their pay should be proportionate with that okay so the second factor I want to talk about is speed anybody that knows me knows that I prioritize skill level over speed and most good tattoos that I know also do that because you know at the end of the day it's better to have a good tattoo than a fast tattoo but not all tabs fortis work at the same pace and I have met many tattoo artists that are very good at tattooing and also fast at tattooing so if let's say to tattoo artists have the same skill level but one is significantly faster than the other one then the tattoo artist is significantly fast should be getting paid more either hourly rate or they should be flat raiding their work and getting you know pay the same amount of money for a shorter amount of time that they put into that piece because their speed you know merits that increase in how much they charge a how much pay they receive okay so the third factor I want to talk about that influences how much tattoo artists charge is going to be notoriety and basically what I mean by that is like how well-known are they you know how what kind of pool of people do they have to draw from when they are selecting new clientele or taking on new tattoo projects how many people know about them how many people are trying to get tattooed by them now notoriety can be built in a variety of different ways you know somebody could be very skilled and very fast at tattooing and that alone could cause a little ripple effect that you know makes a lot of people talk about them clients are showing tattoos and word-of-mouth can build that notoriety so often times notoriety is linked with skill and speed but you know there's other times when notoriety can just be built in like a totally separate way like for instance I don't know I'm making YouTube videos and I tattoo clients sometimes that have seen my videos before so it increases the amount of clients that are trying to get tattooed by me when really none of these videos have a whole lot to do with me tattooing yeah right so there's that or like maybe like a reality TV star like let's say Kat Von D for instance she's a really great example of this third factor Kat Von D is a good tattooer she does really saw the tattoos her black and gray is pretty good but she charges a giant giant giant amount of money for tattoos probably more than like the best tattooer in the world even in her particular style like black and gray realism or portraiture so you know what I'm trying to say is that she is a good tattooer but the amount she charges doesn't necessarily match up with her skill level because there are people out there that are way better than her that charge less but because she has so much notoriety that's why she deserves the amount of money that she gets paid is because she put a lot of effort in time into building that notoriety and that's what merits the raise in pay and yeah there's a lot of different ways that tattoo artists can build up their notoriety you know it doesn't have to be a YouTube thing or reality TV they could just be really good at managing like their Instagram account really great photos you know taking advantage of the algorithm on there and kind of growing organically on that platform they could do a lot of conventions and you know be doing a lot of good tattoos and satisfying clients with great artwork all over the country or the world or whatever and creating little ripples where people are talking about them and you know they're gaining notoriety that way or they just could know a lot of people in the industry and guess bottle over the place and do the same thing that way so there's a lot of different ways to build notoriety as a tattoo artist and the more an artist puts effort into like kind of gaining a name for themselves the more they end up getting paid as a result okay so the fourth factor I'm going to talk about is style as you guys probably already know there's a bunch of different ways that tattoos can look and some like styles of tattooing are much more popular than other styles and pretty much the more popular style is the more demand there's going to be for it and the more demand there is for it the more an artist that practices that style can charge so a really great example of that would be like bio-organic tattooing versus black and gritty realism tattooing by organic tattooing is basically a style of tattoos that was really popular like in the late 90s or early 2000s and it's a really really like awesome looking style of tattooing it takes a lot of skill to be good at that style but it's probably not as popular now as it used to be 10 15 20 years ago and as a result there's not like a giant pool of people out there that are pursuing artists that do that style and trying to get that style unless they really particularly like the way that it looks because it's a little bit more obscure right so artists that practice that style even the best ones in the world oftentimes are probably not getting paid as much as they deserve to like based on how much work they put in to get good at that style but that's just the name of the game where you know they chose to specialize in something that's not necessarily the most popular like trendy thing to do now the other side of that coin would be like black and gray realism which right now black and gray realism is like insanely popular a lot of people are getting it a lot of people are doing it it's super trendy right now and a lot of people are pursuing tattoo artists that have a high amount of skill in that style so you know if you are just a a really skilled artist and you're able to do that style to just like you know a pretty good degree they're gonna be getting paid pretty nasty and if you're really good at that style then man you're like coming up and making super cake right now because that is the style that's probably most heavily being pursued that I've seen outside of like just regular like traditional you know traditional styles those are pretty popular too okay so the fifth and final factor that I'm going to be discussing today is going to be location where a tattoo artist tattoos in terms of geographic location matters quite a bit in terms of like how much they charge and how much they're going to end up making obviously a tattoo artist that is in like a very heavily populated area with a high average median income and not a lot of tattoo artists in that area compared to clients they're gonna be making more money than in the opposite situation where they're in a very you know low populated area with not a lot of clients that are looking to get tattooed and a bunch of other tattoo artists there with them and a very low average median income so for instance like somebody that's tattooing Adelaide Manhattan in New York City is probably going to be making a lot more money than somebody's tattooing like in a small town in Kentucky where not a lot of people that have money are living there or maybe they're like super religious and nobody there gets tattoos or something like that so location can be pretty important in determining how much attached to artists charges or how much attached to artists makes not only in that respect but also in terms of one city like where a tattoo shop is located in that city and how nice the shop is and like what the shop environment is that the tattoo artists is working in because let's face it if a tattoo shop is like on the outskirts of a city in an area where there's not a whole lot of stuff popping off they're probably going to be charging less than a tattoo shop it's right in the nerve center of like downtown on the strip of whatever that city is because the overhead is going to be higher in the downtown shop and there's probably going to be a lot more traffic there so they're gonna charge more money you know with regards to the shop environment that I was talking about if a shop is nicer and has a lot nicer decor and there's a lot more amenities there and all that sort of thing then there's gonna be higher amount of expenses and overhead for the shop owner and oftentimes shops will have like shop rates that everybody in that shop charges because of those expenses they just want to be able to make sure as the shop owner they're able to pay all their bills so they're artists charge a certain amount that kind of matches up with like the decor and the environment their overhead and all that stuff alright so that's about it for today's video guys what we have talked about or the five different factors that influence how much attached war discharges or how much attached to artists makes and those five factors are skill level speed notoriety style and location so if you guys can think of anything else that's you know worth talking about that I haven't covered in this video because I just you know I haven't thought about it or forgot to put it in here leave that stuff in the comments below if you guys have questions leave that stuff in the comments below if you found this video helpful please make sure to like and share and subscribe and do all that sort of stuff because it helps the channel grow basically what I'm gonna go do right now is I'm gonna go home after I finish filming here and I am going to edit this video and pack all my stuff up and get ready to head out to New York City tomorrow for the Empire State Expo I just got back from Albuquerque the day before yesterday and I just been running around like a chicken with my head cut off doing all kind of different errands in this little window that I have at home but I'm about to hit the road again I'm about to go to New York again I love that city so I'm super stoked on it if you guys are part of my notification game that catches all my videos as soon as they come out and you are able to watch this video in between the small window of when I post in when I'm actually out there tattooing feel free to stop by the Expo is happening on July 19th 20th and 21st it's Friday Saturday Sunday it is at the Hilton Midtown in midtown Manhattan 6th Avenue it's on the Avenue of the Americas and yeah I'll be all there I'll be over there all weekend tattooing stop by say what's up if not that's cool but yeah until next time guys have a nice night thanks for watching

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Hey James! Heard a tattoo artist in Japan has to hold an actual medical MD license in order to legally tattoo a client. Can only imagine the cost of a tattoo in Japan if true lol. Have a safe trip to NY brother! Peace✌

  2. Hey James- thx for the informative vids. I didn’t start getting any ink until I was 50. I now have wrist, foot and back pieces. About what age does it make it too difficult for the artist to work well with the skin canvas?

  3. hey James! im about to get a tattoo in a week, had an idea of it being a forearm band tattoo that looks like a mix of aztec and celtic culture with my zodiac sign on the sides(ram) facing eachother. My biggest worry is how it might look to people with similar tribal designs, mainly maori and other polynesian cultures. Im a mix of irish/hispanic/italian and idk how this tattoo will come off….any advice or feedback is appreciated.
    ive always liked arm band tattoos or something that wraps around but I dont want to be considered cultural appropriation

  4. Yo James made us wait forever for that trademark f bomb. Also while I will say that the payoff is sometimes higher for a tattoo artist to work in densely populated areas, the cost of living and overhead costs are also higher. As a client you can't just assume that they're actually making bank because of where they are.
    Edit: thanks for addressing the question I had about the artists charging the same amounts in shops.

  5. I love your content and I wish you uploaded more often lol. I know you’re probably busy af though.

  6. Im working with a KILLER artist. It took me 4 years of vetting to find him.
    I went on and had him do a collarbone peice as a warmup to a full sternum and possibly frontal torso trash polka design.
    I sat down for the warm up and 2 hrs later he asks me for …..60.00. !!!! I literally stumbled backwards and asked him why? Im from ct. 150 hr is expected on average.
    This guy just hut me w 30.
    30 an hr.
    Thinking it was a once in a lifetime deal i took 300 w me for the 1st 3hr session on my torso.
    He spent nearly 5 hrs, got finiahed and said….yo nate, 100

    😵😵😵😵😵 He proceeds to tell me that he LOVES my idea and is excited to be able to be free artistically to create my peice and that together, we will create a killer tattoo.
    Im tipping of course.
    Very well.
    He is a well known and respected artisit in my area. Ive had people tell me 3 to 350 on some of their peices from him. This guy has sat me for 6 plus hrs and charged me 160.00 total.
    I dont know how to accept this BEAUTIFULLY done and placed tattoo even half finished at this price. I feel bad. I think im gonna talk to him and tell him im.still gonna tip well, pay cash and shown up every 1st monday of every month till he says its done but…but i feel like im ripping him off.

  7. Video Idea: Shaving the tattoo area before going into an appointment.

    I haven't seen much online about the subject, and maybe there is nothing to say about it, but if there is I would be interested in what you had to say about it.

  8. Hey James,
    love your informative videos! Your videos have helped me build realistic expectations for my first tattoo and I'm much more confident about what I want to get done. Keep it up , and enjoy your trip!