Tattoo Prices

Cilia , the only female tattooist at the show, had her stand in with the trade stalls. Which, in comparison with the main tattoo room, was fairly cool, calm and smoke free. I didn’t get the chance to ask if this affected the level of business she attracted, as every time I passed, she was always busy with another customer.

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Some advices. “Don´t work more than two or three hours on a large tattoo”

Establish a regular pattern of working hours. During your slow periods, you’ll find many ways to occupy your time. If and when you have a day when you’re tired, distraught or ill, go to bed or go fishing, tomorrow’s another day.
On a busy day, work customers on a rotation basis. First in, first out. Don’t offend anyone by taking on someone else before their turn comes.
You’ll find it better to do large pieces by appointment outside your regular office hours. Some artists work exclusively by appointment, but they are usually well known and established. It’s not a good idea to work more than two or three hours on a large tattoo anyway, it is advisable to spread the work over several or more sittings. Don’t touch it again until the previous work is healed.
You will be approached by people you would prefer not doing business with. There is always one out of ten that are just plain trouble. Don’t be arrogant with them, just explain in a firm way that if you’re not accepting their money, you don’t owe them anything.
From time to time, you might be approached by the media looking for what they like to call a human interest story. While it may be in your interest to cooperate with them, don’t forget that publicity is a double-edged sword. Once they get their foot in the door, they can write it the way they see it. There are those who swear that publicity promotes business, but it would be hard to prove that those customers wouldn’t eventually have found their way to your doorstep anyway. Give it your best thoughts, because in the end, it’s a decision you’ll have to make when you are confronted with it.
Spend some time building good public relations in your community, having friends on your side always helps.
A question that comes up is one about tattoo removal. Tattooists all have their special removal techniques, but you should be advised to stay clear of them all. The best answer is to have the name and address of a reputable dermatologist who specializes in tattoo removal, and send the client there. Your thing should be putting them on correctly. Let someone else’s thing be in removing them correctly.

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Tattoo payment

In the tattooing trade, payment for tattoos is in cash and in advance. It is hard to take back a tattoo if the customer won’t pay. Same deal for checks. Accept only cash in advance – nonrefundable. A sign up front, “no checks,” also helps. Also, if you do work by appointment, deposits are required to secure it. The appointment goes into an Appointment Book the minute a deposit is received. This deposit is nonrefundable if they do not show up. Usually, a twenty-four cancel notice is required and then deposits are returned. The deposit for an appointment can be taken off the top of the tattoo price. Sometimes a deposit is necessary in the case of special design requests. This is to cover the time involved in the design or the extra to pay an artist to draw one up special. When doing a large piece that requires more than one sitting, always get fifty percent up front and divide the balance up between the following sittings.
Sometimes people will surprise you with really outrageous requests for tattoo work. Usually in weird places that are out of the ordinary. Once again, payment in advance, and for appointments. If you don’t feel comfortable tattooing, let’s say, genitals, for instance, set your price extremely high and out of range. If the customer agrees to pay it, well do it. A private booth or section may be essential when doing bashful customers or women. Some people do not want to be stared at, and you should honor all requests and do your best to please the customer at all times. Never tattoo minors, even when they have parental approval. It is just bad policy and stay away from it. It is also not too smart to tattoo certain exposed body parts. Reconsult chapter on “Skin” for more wisdom on this.
Do not tattoo people who for whatever reason are not capable of making a free informed choice in having a tattoo or not, such as the mentally handicapped. Don’t tattoo minors even with written permission, it isn’t very professional. Tattooists who tattoo small children need counselling and help.
Don’t tattoo pregnant or nursing women. It’s also not a good idea to tattoo vulgar words or dirty pictures. Tattooing should be an honorable art, not a barbaric ritual. A professional attitude draws a line. Never compromise or cross over it. Business is business and don’t deviate from the rules. Names and biker club insignias are a definite no no. The only exception is if you have undeniable proof of biker club membership. Remember, these fellows are very proud of their designs and guard them rather jealously. You are responsible for indiscrete tattooing and will have to answer for it.
It is best not to tattoo in the window of your shop. Regardless of what you may think, there are people out there who consider tattooing obscene. If you flaunt your wares in front of their face, they will remember you for the wrong reasons. It’s not good to attract bad attention to yourself.
Don’t exhibit reptiles, white rats, shrunken heads, skeletons, etc., in your studio as come-ons. The reaction of most people to such props are negative and they are usually repulsed. What you intended as a come-on may be a turn-off. Tattooing can stand on its own merit and such window dressing announces to the world that you may be involved in some strange sect besides tattooing. That hardly inspires confidence in the people you seek to do business with.

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A Word of Advice about tattooing industry

Whether we like it or not, the tattooing industry has a lot of jealousy within its ranks. There is countless reasons for this and some of them will give you the impression that a certain individual should have his head checked. His attitude won’t really register with you until you have been into tattooing a short period of time. Some people will think they own a whole town, city or county and tell you there is no room for another artist in that area. In some cases there isn’t enough business for only one, but if he is established and doing good work, he really has nothing to worry about, but you can’t tell him that. He already has all the answers. Just be very selective here, you pick your location. Never knock your competition even though he might be giving you the bad mouth all the time. It only makes proposed customers curious and they will check it out, believe me. Some tattooists get along fine together, they sort of run in a click, and if you fit into that particular click and are accepted, you’re all set.
One thing in this business that will get you accepted quickly is to turn out exceptional tattoo work. At this point, your competition knows that you’re better than he thought and his attitude towards you might even change, especially if he figures he can learn something from you after seeing some of the super work you’re turning out. Don’t brag about your work, you get a reputation in the tattoo business from other artists, not the customer. Strange as it seems, this is true. Always do your best, conduct yourself in a professional manner and above all, be a nice guy. Public relations is a very important part of tattooing, it has a lot to do with how much you have in your pocket at the end of the week.

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Methods for Seeling tattoo Work.

Another method to use is called the grid system pricing guide. This is where a grid is made up on a piece of paper or acetate in one inch square increments. The idea here is to cover the tattoo with the grid and see how many square inches it encompasses. You would charge by the square inch of tattoo space. You will have to determine what you want to charge per square inch. This can save you time, and if you decide on different prices, all you have to do is charge more or less per square inch instead of changing all the flash sheets.

These are just a few examples of pricing and it is probable that the tattooist will find a way of pricing that is both fair to the customer and profitable to himself. Always remember though, don’t be greedy.

Selling Work
Another aspect of tattooing which is linked to pricing is the possibility of drumming up more business. This is self-promotion, and there are endless ways to go about doing it. One way is, as soon as you open up a shop, call the local newspaper and try to get them to do a local story on you. A lot of people will read this that otherwise would not have any other way of knowing about your shop. Advertising yourself always helps and to place an advertisement for tattooing, promoting yourself, will really get you some business. An advertisement in any related type magazine is also good. Business cards are a must to hand out to people and it is a tradition to design them with clever drawings and original ideas. T-shirts, buttons and bandanas with your shop name log silk-screened on them are another way to go. They are like walking billboards, and the price to have them printed up is marginal compared to the business that you will get. Many tattooists photograph all the tattoos that they have done (while on the customer). When a collection of them starts to pile up, arrange them in books or on the walls and they become a great portfolio, showing what you are capable of doing. Proof of your work really puts the odds in your favor when a customer is undecided about actually getting a tattoo. Following these guidelines, it shouldn’t be hard to get more work, and a little imagination in promoting yourself, really adds up to more business. Tattooing advertises itself by word of mouth, and aside from the cost of business cards and some advertising in the yellow pages, they advertise themselves. You can sell the same tattoo over and over again, but to the customers, they’re always new.

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Prices and Selling tattoos

What will you charge for a tattoo and what will it work out per hour? Walk into any legitimate tattoo shop and you will notice that the price of a good tattoo is not generally cheap. That is, not inexpensive. When considering the price of equipment, today’s inflation, the skill involved, and the cost of overhead and floor space, tattoos are not exactly a bad deal either. The fact is that they are a permanent artwork investment that will go everywhere the customer goes. Other than the free tattoos on friends in the beginning in trade for advertisement, the prices of your work should be consistent. Don’t start off underselling yourself and then later raise your prices. People will come back years later and expect the same low prices. Try to set a standard as soon as possible. One way to do this is to visit the good tattooists in your area, and take a look at what they are charging. Compare different tattoo sizes and try to get a pricing guide down pat in your head. This can be used as a reference for your own prices. Don’t try to undersell the local established tattooists in your area, because besides being unfair to them, you don’t want to cause an uproar as the new kid on the block. It can cost you many friends.
Also, it’s not too good to quote prices over the phone. Most people that call are just curious, anyway. Some are shopping for the cheapest price. Just tell them to come down and visit you and that it will be worth the trip.
Another way of pricing, which is very popular, is called the A-B-C method. The basics to this are quite simple. Make up a card or posters to hang over the design sheets with the following information on it. Let’s say you have figured out that your basic commercial designs come in three size ranges. Small work is $25.00. These you list as “A” designs. Medium size work is $35.00 and is listed as “B” designs. Larger pieces are $50.00 and they will be put down as “C” designs. Make this large and plain on the poster, the price and letter designations. Now all that is left to do is to place the appropriate letter sticker on your corresponding flash sheet designs. On one sheet, for example, you will have some that have an “A” next to them, some with a “B” or a “C” depending upon their size. This way, prices don’t clutter up your flash sheets, and it gives the customer a chance to decide what they can afford to work around their pocketbook. An alternative method is to have designs illustrated in books. This is useful if you lack sufficient wall space.

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