How Much Do Tattoo Artists Get Paid – An Insider Perspective

Tattoo artists are one of society’s most misunderstood occupations. Most people believe that tattoo artists are always well-compensated. However, this is not the reality! So, to offer you a better grasp of this job, we’ll go through “how much do tattoo artists get paid” based on industry norms.

Let’s dive right in!

How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make?

Tattoo artists are in high demand, with annual earnings from $16,000 up to $91,000. Most begin their careers as freelancers. The business owner receives a portion of their earnings until it becomes full-time employment or they find an agency prepared to take them on directly for more money.

Average Tattoo Artist Salary By State:

Tattoo Artist Salary Comparison by Location:

Average Tattoo Artist Hourly Pay:

Let us look at an example from a witness who is well-versed in the subject of paying: Today Tattoos specialize in tattoo artist training. According to this website, tattoo artists typically only get 30-40% of the income from each tattoo they produce. The rest will end up in the pockets of the boss.

how do tattoo artists get paid
Tattoo artist salary may vary

What Factors Impact How Much Do Tattoo Artists Get Paid

A tattoo artist’s annual earnings might vary considerably based on the number of years they’ve been in the profession, their skills.

Independent Contractors Vs. Employees

Being a tattoo artist, what you earn depends greatly on your place in this tattoo industry. Some might think you must own a shop to have a higher income. It’s totally wrong.

Newbies make little money compare to pro artists

A permanent worker will typically get paid a set amount every month that varies depending on their position but has some consistency throughout all shifts.

Part-time employees may face distinct circumstances since the owner may deduct a recurring charge from their income. According to the contract, you may be required to pay 20-50 percent of your wage or a certain sum.

The differences also lie in taxes. If you’re a full-time employee, your owner will withhold medical and income taxes, and social security. What about part-time employees? You will have to report and pay income taxes yourselves.

Male Vs. Female

In the past and now, many women have entered this field through an apprenticeship with a male artist. However, without any prior ties or training, it was not always simple for them.

Female artists have to face many difficulties

Even while discrimination towards female tattoo artists is gradually fading, we still have a long way to go before it is entirely eradicated. This is evidenced by Kat Von D and Stephanie Tamez being placed 10th on Forbes’ list of the highest-paid females. But they are still the minority in the global community of female tattoo artists.

In addition, the wages of female and male tattoo artists fluctuate according to the season. For example, on Valentine’s Day or Halloween, individuals will get permanent ink to express their love and feelings in a way that will stay forever. Thus, it’s a busy period with good luck factors impacting annual profits.

As Per States

Tattoo artists in places such as the United Kingdom may make more than £21k per year or between £29.19 and £45.97 per hour. However, if you have exceptional abilities, you may easily make three times that amount.

Artists Salary can change based on where they live

As for owners of tattoo shops in the UK, you might think running a studio is expensive, but they can keep 100% of their hourly fees and a percentage of their employees’ pay! Their income will also often fluctuate more than £36,000 per year.

According to ZipRecruiter statistics, you may make anywhere from $12 and $314900 per year as a tattoo artist in the United States. As you can see, this figure fluctuates significantly, owing to significant differences in how salaries are paid between states in the United States.

Years Of Experience

The salary of a tattoo artist varies according to their level of expertise and licensing. An entry-level tattooist can earn up to $23K per year in some circumstances, while other newbies artists may start at about $15k or less.

Of course, you won’t have to work for such low pay indefinitely, but your chances will improve according to your years of expertise. According to PayScale, companies are prepared to compensate tattooists with many years of expertise, about $30,000 per year. The amount will rise to 40,000 USD if you can develop works that outperform others.

Hard work pays off

When you’re a professional tattoo artist, your name represents the excellence of your work that has propelled you to success. You are now an expert in this industry and may charge up to $1000 per hour for high-quality tattoos, which is about 150 grands a year! 

However, this procedure takes a long time and work; it may take up to ten years or more. So, there is a long way to go for a dream career as a tattoo artist like Scott Campbell, whose artwork can cost $2000 every hour.

What Accounts For Your Tattoo Fee?

There are many fees that you have to take into account when it comes to getting a tattoo.

Workspace Costs

Renting from a tattoo parlor can be more expensive for someone who is not their owner. Nevertheless, because everything is accessible, the owners may have to acquire less equipment and materials, which you may bargain with the lessor.

Materials Costs

It is critical for tattoo artists in the business to invest in and maintain their equipment. Equipment is often the initial capital investment, and many individuals are hesitant to spend it since it is so expensive. Still, they can be claimed back as your business expense.

Seating and tattoo machines might be expensive at first, but they are well worth the investment.


Tattoo ink and ink caps are also expenses that must be recorded in the expense book.

Another problem is that disposable tubes are used up faster than reusable tubes. They might cost more than you anticipate. Meanwhile, sanitation systems linked directly to these sorts of equipment will be deemed an asset. Thus, no amortization is necessary, but this choice differs by the firm.

Tattoo ink and ink caps are also expenses that must be recorded in the expense book.

Furthermore, to get a tattoo, artists will always need: 

  • Tissues
  • Gloves
  • Needles
  • Aftercare supplies (if available)
  • Stencils
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Razors (in case customers didn’t shave the tattooing area beforehand)
  • Petroleum jelly or vaseline

Employees Costs

Payrolls for employees, in addition to the full-time tattooist, will also be available to interns or receptionists. Yet, the service work will usually be done by the studio staff to minimize costs.

Some people opt to engage an accountant, although this is not a must for self-employed persons, since it might be complicated to take care of taxes rather than concentrate completely on tattooing in general!

Of course, all capital and costs will be included in the tattoo charge that the visitor must pay. A portion of it will pay the initial cost, while the remainder will be profit, which studios will use to cover costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Final thoughts 

So, in sum, how much do tattoo artists get paid?

This depends on many variables. Whether you’re looking for a new tattoo or simply want to know what experts generally charge, these insights can assist you in negotiating your pricing with your next artist.

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