It is no secret that tattoos can be expensive, and for a good reason. Tattoo artists train for years as apprentices while making very little money, so once they are standalone artists, it makes sense that they would charge higher prices. After all, they have just spent the last several years of their life training and perfecting their craft.
By the time they graduate from their apprenticeship, they need to start making money. The years of training, plus the cost to rent the shop and purchase the materials, is what makes the price of tattoos so high. Even the smallest tattoo can cost close to $100, if not more.
Generally speaking, when you are paying someone to do something in the business world, it is acceptable to ask them for a quote. However, in the tattoo world, it can sometimes be looked down upon. So the question remains, is it rude to ask a tattoo artist for a quote?
Why can it be rude to ask for a quote?
There are a couple of reasons it may be considered rude to ask for a quote for a tattoo, but the primary reason people give is that it limits the artist. Although heavily stigmatized, Tattoo artists are artists, and each tattoo they do is a work of art and part of their craft. Some may argue that by imposing a price limit or making an artist feel like they need to charge less, you are limiting their creative freedom.
This may be true to an extent, if they are given a price and time limit, they may not be able to do the work in as much detail as they could. However, the reality is that your tattoo artists are doing this as their job.
They depend on tattooing as their livelihood and because of that, they will be accustomed to doing work for the money, not just the passion.
It’s great if you are laid back enough and have enough money to just let your artist do whatever they want, but most of the time that simply isn’t the case.
When to ask for a quote?
We think that the best time to ask for a quote is as soon as you have your first consultation with the artist. That way you both know what you’re getting yourselves into budget wise, and if it won’t work then neither of you has wasted significant time or money.
When you go to your first consultation, you should already have a general idea of the work that your artist does. If you’re not sure, try looking them up on Instagram or on the tattoo shop’s website, both should have samples of their work. Keeping the style that they usually work with in mind, bring in reference pictures and have an idea how where you want it and how big you want it to be.
Also, you need to go into your appointment knowing how much you are willing to spend. This goes for any time you are getting a quote for something as well, know your price point or you are going to end up spending more than you originally wanted to.
It may feel awkward, but as soon as you get to your appointment you need to be upfront about how much you are willing to spend. Show them the reference pictures, describe what you want, then tell them how much you can spend. This may seem overly direct but in the end, it’ll save you both time and money.
If they know what you can commit to from the beginning, they will not have to waste time designing any tattoos that you can’t afford.
Is it okay to negotiate prices?
Just like with asking for a quote, negotiating the price is perceived as rude by some, especially when it comes to artistic work. However, ultimately, you know how much you can pay. If the price that the artist has offered you is not something you can afford, you have the right to ask if they can lower it. Along with that, they have the right to say no to a lower price.
When you’re negotiating, make sure that you are keeping a fair price in mind, don’t ask the artist to lower the price by a ridiculous amount. The equipment and materials needed to tattoo are expensive. If the price is way out of range, you may need to reconsider your design, sizing, colors, and location.
All of these factors will impact the price and you and your artist can discuss ways to cut the cost. One example of this would be getting a tattoo done in black ink as opposed to colors, colored tattoos tend to be more expensive than grayscale work.
Verbal VS In Writing
Another common question that people ask when getting quotes, in general, is, “Is it okay to get a verbal quote, or do I need to get it in writing?” While everyone wishes that you could take people at their word, the reality is that sometimes you can’t.
Sometimes you remember something differently front the other person, sometimes people are just being completely dishonest, and when you’re getting a quote this miscommunication or dishonesty can end up costing you quite a bit of money.
With that in mind, it is strongly recommended that you get the artist to put their quote in writing. Have them detail everything that they are planning on doing, how much they will do it for, then they need to sign the quote. That way, if something goes wrong and they try to go back on their word, you have the evidence needed to make sure you’re not overcharged.
If you had just gotten a verbal quote, then you will not have any evidence that you are being overcharged for your tattoo.
Know When to Say No
If you’ve talked to multiple artists, gotten quotes, done negotiating, and you still can’t find an affordable price for your perfect tattoo, it may be time to let it be.
Tattoos are permanent and it isn’t worth it to get something subpar just because you can’t afford what you want at that very moment. Instead, wait, save up, then pay the price that the artist has quoted you. This will leave you with the best results and you won’t have to worry about leaving elements out just to lower the price.