While each artist makes a different amount, this article will talk about some averages that a tattoo artist makes in different countries around the world
A tattooist is an artist who makes body art. Like many artists, they spend years perfecting their work and learning the trade. Typically, tattoo artists train as apprentices for a few years before branching out on their own and getting their tattoo license (depending on country). Tattoo schools are looked down upon as a cash grab, so real experience is really the only way that a tattooist should train. Once they’ve done that, they work to build a client base and portfolio. On top of this, tattoo professionals need to learn how to use, clean and sanitize their equipment, as well as market their services and run their businesses.
Do tattoo artists make the salaries of starving artists or can they thrive creating body art? The numbers are all variable, as just like with any profession, some people do very well, while others don’t.
What tattoo artists make
In the United States, average incomes vary from about $25,000 per year to up to $50,000 per year, depending on the state. The states where tattoo artists earn the most include District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York and California. But, those with a huge following can charge upwards of $600 an hour, which can net them $150,000+ per year. On the flipside, new tattoo artists who haven’t built up a client base can make as low as $12,000 a year.
In Canada, the numbers are similar with the average tattoo artist making between $30,000 to $50,000 a year and with the most renowned artists making upwards of $100,000 or more.
In the U.K. tattooist make about 15,000 pounds per year for more experienced tattooists. This is equivalent to about $25,000 Canadian. Salaries will vary around the world depending on the economy and value of tattoos in that country.
What factors contribute to income?
Incomes are definitely contingent on how many clients a tattoo artist can service in one year. Typically, the tattoo artists who can effectively market themselves will make the most money, but this doesn’t just mean through traditional advertising. Word of mouth and referrals are a large part of a tattooist’s business and the better service they give, the more referrals that will come their way. Usually this comes with experience – the more tattoos a tattooist does, the better they get and in turn, the more money they can make from new and repeat clients. As well, those with very good reputations can actually charge more for the same work. Raw talent also plays a large part in what a tattoo artist can make.
Tattoo artists will also generally make more if they own their own shop, rather than work for someone else, who will take a cut of the income. They’ll also generate income by employing others, paying by commission, which is usually 50% of the total price of the tattoo.
While becoming a tattooist isn’t always a lucrative career choice, it can definitely be a satisfying one, where a person can make a career out of their art.