If you already have tattoos, or if you already started to inform yourself in a tattoo shop, you are probably aware that tattoos are not the cheapest things you will ever buy. Certainly if you’re planning on going to a better tattoo artist, you will have to save some money before you can make an appointment with this artist. This is why many people assume that you will earn a whole lot of easy money as a tattoo artist, but even although I would never want to do anything else and feel that I have found the ultimate dream job, it is not always sweet smell and moonshine.
In order to explain why a tattoo is so expensive, I have to approach some aspects. To begin with, you do not become a tattoo artist overnight. A training is unpaid (sometimes even to be paid) and super intensive. Depending on the shop, this training can easily take a few months to more than a year (or even longer). And if you’re now thinking; yeah well… not really my problem, there are still jobs that require training, that’s allright, but there is more.
Secondly the material is not cheap. Only one tattoo machine, that what the needle will eventually push up and down, can easily cost you 250 to 700 euros or more. Cheaper versions from for example China will be cheap, but the quality can not be compared with machines of famous tattoo brands and this will also be seen in the quality of your tattoo. I think it’s clear that that would be no option. Besides the fact that one tattoo machine is already a serious cost, tattoo artists always have a few. Each machine has its own function, for each technique and each needle group you need a different tattoo machine. Personally, I currently have about 7 tattoo machines, but will soon have to buy a few more. The more you are tattooing, the more frequently you will have to change your tattoo machines, just like other machines it will lose it’s power if used a lot. But, with a tattoo machine alone, you can do nothing yet. In addition, you will need a power supply, a power cable and a foot switch before you will get movement in those needles.
Then I have not talked about the material yet that should be in the tattoo shop itself. A desk, a tattoo table, seats, chairs,lamps and so I can go on for a while, are all objects that you can not just buy in the flea market for half a euro. If you don’t work with disposable material, you can count on an extra 1000 euros or more for an autoclave, before you can start.
Anyway, that’s all our problem and are all just one time purchases, right? Well then we go one more step further, we need new needles for each tattoo. These can of course only be used once and with most tattoos we will need more than one needle grouping. Ink was also purchased and a lot of other disposable materials such as ink cups, ointment, plastic, paper, etc. In the end everything has to be as hygienic and sterile as possible, right? Ultimately, we all prefer a table that is completely wrapped in plastic instead of one with sweat and blood of the previous user. Or not?
If all the material has been paid, the profit of the tattoo will not go directly to our savings account. At the end of the month we (yes believe it or not) have to pay a mountain of bills, especially as a tattooshop owner. A tattoo shop is usually rented and water and electricity are used. And finally, the taxes are still coming, but we won’t talk about that one, right? If you are working as an artist in a tattoo shop and do not own a tattoo shop, you will always give away a percentage of the income to the tattoo parlor owner to cover the costs of the shop as some kind of rent. What you pay to your artist will therefore, at the end of the whole process, but with a small percentage go to his personal account.
Finally, which is certainly not unimportant to mention, is the amount of time we put into your tattoo. Personally I sometimes work 4 hours to even a few days before my complete design is drawn out and approved by myself. If there are still some things to be adjusted before the customer is satisfied, there are already a lot of hours spent on the tattoo, even before the tattoo needle touched your skin. And then of course we still have the tattoo itself, which often also takes several hours.
The next time you think that a tattoo artist earns a lot of money in an easy way, remember that a lot of preparation and costs are connected to our job and that it’s not always as easy, even if we enjoy every part of it!