Hourly Rates and What To Expect

The most common question and the most difficult answer… Hourly Rates!

The most common question asked of tattoo artists and tattoo studios is: ” What is your hourly rate?

Upon giving the customer an answer they usually reply with “Oh wow, that’s great!” or “Oh wow, that’s a lot of money!”. But what does it all mean? Does an artist’s hourly rate translate into a better value or mean one artist is ripping you off? Does it mean the quality is better the more money you spend? There is no easy way to answer this accurately. But let’s break it down to dollars and sense, then we will talk about quality.

Time Clock Hourly RatesFor arguments sake, we are going to make up a scenario, Donald wants to get a half sleeve. He has a choice between two artists. The half sleeve will be done based on the artists hourly rate.

Here is the scenario:

Artist “1” has 10 years of experience and charges $200 an hour, Artist “2” has 10 years of experience and charges $135 an hour. They both work at the same studio, so location and studio type don’t play a part in this scenario but we will discuss that later. Artist “1” says the tattoo will take him 10 hours, broken down into two sitting of 5 hours each, total cost will be $2,000.00.

Artist “2” says the same tattoo will take 18 hours, broken down into four sittings of 4.5 hours each, total cost will be $2,430.00. So, based on this scenario while artist “1” seemed expensive because of his hourly rate, he really was cheaper based on the cost of the tattoo alone. We haven’t even factored in the time that the client lost having to go to the studio two more times for two 4.5 hour appointments.


The scenario above works well, in a perfect world, where two artists are capable of the same work. But the world isn’t perfect and neither are tattoo artists. At our Pure Ink Studios we try to do our best and hire a good variety of well-trained artists for both our Boonton and Ledgewood location, however since art is subjective there may be an artist or two who don’t appeal to your liking. This isn’t a bad thing! This is a great thing.

Do your homework. Check online portfolios, check in-store portfolios, meet the artists and see if your personalities jive. This is how you get the best tattoo experience for your money.

As mentioned above both artists in that scenario worked at the same studio. But what if they didn’t? What is that worth to the client? Does extra travel factor into the cost of the tattoo? How about the feel of the studio? Do you insist upon going where you feel at home? We do! That’s why we have built our studios the way we did. Pure Ink’s studios are built like your home away from home. When your there you are treated like family. If you want a bottle of water, just ask! If you want to turn the tv channel to catch the football game that’s on, just ask! Make yourself at home, after all it’s your hard-earned money you are spending

In closing hourly rate isn’t a simple number. It’s a totality of the entire situation. Put in the time to look at the entire picture and get the tattoo your dreaming of the first time because cover-ups and removals aren’t fun for anyone!

Check out more articles on our site and educate yourself on more of our tattoo and piercing industry.