You Get What You Pay For
That’s the idea at least. If a tattoo is dirt cheap, than you may want to think about why that is. We are talking about something that you will have to live with for the rest of your life and affects your health. Is this a time to focus solely on cost? Probably not. Let’s talk about QUALITY.
Most reputable tattooers charge anywhere from $120 to $180+ an hour. They should be able to give you a rough idea of how long a tattoo will take and what the end total might be approximate. You can discuss this with them ahead of time and feel free to lay out a budget so you both know what is feasible. That being said, as a client you also have a job to do. Come feeling well and with a meal in your belly. If you have to take frequent breaks or can’t sit still – the tattoo is going to take longer.
What You Are Paying For
A reputable artist makes health and safety a priority ensuring a clean, sterilized work space, equipment and materials. They will answer your questions and give you guidance on taking care of your fresh tattoo. Equipment includes sterilizing solutions/wipes, machines, ink, needles, tubes, bandages and protective items such as gloves, disposable sheets and barrier films (plus a ton more).
They bring years of experience to the table. Often they are producing original drawings for your tattoo that they spend significant time working on. An experienced artist can make suggestions about tattoo design and placement and work with you to help give you a piece that you will be happy with for a long time to come.
A reputable artist produces quality tattoos that can stand the test of time. Improper technique can lead to some terrible results. An experienced artist has the skill-set to design and deliver a tattoo that comes out sharp and holds up over the years.
Again – that being said – your other job is to take care of your fresh tattoo. Often this involves staying out of water (soaking) and making sure it’s kept out of the sun until healed and then using sunblock regularly afterwards. Your artist will provide instructions for healing and aftercare. If you don’t take care of your tattoo, it will affect the quality.
So what we are saying is save up some dollars and get an AWESOME tattoo that lasts a lifetime and that you will continue to love. It’s WORTH it. Spending a bit more now is investing in a tattoo you can love for decades to come.