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How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make?

Tattoo artists are the architects of living art, transforming skin into designs that tell stories, express emotions, and capture moments. But, hey, what’s the scoop on their earnings? Let’s dig into the world of tattoo artist incomes, with no smoke and mirrors, just honest insights into the financial side of this creative gig.

One of the most important factors that can influence a tattoo artist’s earnings is their experience. As artists gain experience, they become more skilled and efficient. They also develop a better understanding of what clients want. This can lead to higher rates and more bookings.

Another important factor is the location of the artist’s studio. In some areas, there is a higher demand for tattoo artists than in others. This can also affect rates. For example, tattoo artists in major cities like New York or Los Angeles typically earn more than those in smaller towns.

The type of tattoo work that an artist specializes in can also affect their earnings. Some types of tattoo work, such as blackwork or realism, are more popular and command higher rates. The tattoo industry as a whole can also affect an artist’s earnings. The popularity of tattoos, the availability of new technologies, and the marketing strategies used by tattoo studios can all impact how much artists make.

So, how much do tattoo artists make? Let’s get into it.

How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make In The US

Tattoo Artist in United States Source Freepik.com

According to ZipRecruiter, tattoo artists in the US make an average of $27.46 per hour. Entry-level artists make around $18.03 per hour, while experienced artists can make up to $66.11 per hour. On average, tattoo artists in the US earn $4,759 per month. This is equivalent to the hourly average of $27.46.

Here is the list of states in the US, and how much Tattoo Artists earn in each state:

Alabama: $36,335Alaska: $66,941Arizona: $53,201Arkansas: $35,087California: $59,474Colorado: $54,881Connecticut: $55,543Delaware: $50,852Florida: $52,535Georgia: $47,675Hawaii: $62,880Idaho: $48,658Illinois: $52,926Indiana: $49,374Iowa: $47,692Kansas: $48,848Kentucky: $48,423Louisiana: $44,887Maine: $52,248Maryland: $55,922Massachusetts: $59,933Michigan: $53,192Minnesota: $52,818Mississippi: $34,171Missouri: $49,881Montana: $51,883Nebraska: $50,432Nevada: $56,845New Hampshire: $54,298New Jersey: $57,821New Mexico: $51,023New York: $64,522North Carolina: $51,662North Dakota: $50,656Ohio: $51,814Oklahoma: $36,411Oregon: $55,955Pennsylvania: $68,769Rhode Island: $54,891South Carolina: $49,545South Dakota: $49,555Tennessee: $50,513Texas: $52,773Utah: $53,741Vermont: $53,805Virginia: $54,883Washington: $57,752West Virginia: $35,711Wisconsin: $52,914Wyoming: $52,610

Tattoo artists in California earn an average hourly rate of $32.38, while in Texas, the rate is $28.50 per hour. Similarly, Florida sees an average of $27.25 per hour, and New York stands at $29.75 per hour. Entry-level positions commence at $22.75 per hour in California, $20.50 per hour in Texas, $19.50 per hour in Florida, and $23.50 per hour in New York. For the most seasoned artists, earnings peak at $70.00 per hour in California, $60.00 per hour in Texas, $55.00 per hour in Florida, and $65.00 per hour in New York.

The high demand for tattooing and the high cost of living in these states make them good places for tattoo artists to work. However, it is important to do your research and find a city or town that has a good tattoo scene and a cost of living that you can afford.

How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make In Canada

Based on Payscale data, Canadian tattoo artists earn an average of $41,925 annually or $21.50 per hour. Entry-level roles begin at $34,681 per year, with seasoned professionals potentially making up to $58,500 yearly. It depends on where you are, city size can affect how much tattoo artists can expect to earn in Canada.

Major Cities (e.g., Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary):

In these urban centres, where demand and the cost of living are generally higher, experienced tattoo artists might earn a higher income. Annual incomes can range from around $40,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on factors like the artist’s popularity, specialization, and years of experience.

Mid-Sized Cities and Suburban Areas

In regions with a moderate cost of living and a relatively smaller customer base, tattoo artists might earn an average annual income ranging from $30,000 to $70,000.

Rural Areas:

In more rural locations where demand might be lower, the income range could be around $20,000 to $50,000 or potentially even lower.

How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make In Australia

Tattoo artists in Australia see varying incomes influenced by diverse factors. On average, they earn approximately AUD 51,922 annually, translating to AUD 25 per hour. Entry-level positions start at about AUD 39,305 yearly, while experienced artists can earn up to AUD 60,645 annually.

Tattoo artists in major cities and popular tourist destinations tend to earn more than those in rural areas. Working in high-end or private studios can also lead to higher compensation.

For instance, in Sydney, the average annual salary is around AUD 53,000 or AUD 25.70 per hour. Certain cities stand out for their higher pay rates, including Mandurah, WA (AUD 67.50 per hour), Melbourne, VIC (AUD 52.50 per hour), Brisbane, QLD (AUD 48.50 per hour), Perth, WA (AUD 44.50 per hour), and Adelaide, SA (AUD 42.50 per hour).

How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make In New Zealand

In New Zealand, the earnings of tattoo artists display a diverse spectrum shaped by various factors. On average, a tattoo artist garners approximately NZ$33,600 annually, correlating to an hourly rate of NZ$16.20. The initiation of one’s career often sees starting incomes around NZ$19,100 per annum, while seasoned practitioners can potentially achieve up to NZ$54,100 yearly.

Within Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, the average annual salary for a tattoo artist is NZ$36,200, corresponding to an hourly rate of around NZ$18.50. Prominent cities across New Zealand showcase a diverse array of compensation levels:

Auckland: NZ$36.20 per hourWellington: NZ$32.50 per hourChristchurch: NZ$30.80 per hourTauranga: NZ$28.50 per hourHamilton: NZ$27.50 per hour

How Much Do Tattoo Artists Make In the United Kingdom

Tattoo Artist in United Kingdom Source @tattooassist via InstagramSource @tattooassist via Instagram

In the UK, the average annual salary for a tattoo artist is £40,795, which comes to around £19.86 per hour. Entry-level positions tend to start at £31,750 per year, while experienced tattoo artists can earn up to £56,000 annually.

In London, the average salary for a tattoo artist is slightly higher, at around £43,000 per year or £20.50 per hour. Some of the highest-paying cities for tattoo artists in the UK include London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, and Leeds. The salary figures in these cities vary, with London offering the highest average salary at £43,000, followed by Manchester at £37,500, Birmingham at £35,000, Bristol at £33,000, and Leeds at £32,000.

How Can I Become A Tattoo Artist?

How to Become A Tattoo Artist?Source @japanese.ink via Instagram

To become a tattoo artist, several steps are involved. First, you’ll need to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge. This often starts with an apprenticeship under an experienced tattoo artist. During this period, which can last a year or more, you’ll learn about hygiene, safety protocols, equipment handling, and tattoo techniques.

Developing your artistic skills is crucial. Many artists have a background in drawing or art, but you have to refine your skills to create designs that work well as tattoos. Learning about different styles like realism, traditional, or illustrative, can help you find your niche. Gaining proficiency in using tattoo equipment and understanding the various needles, inks, and machines is also fundamental. This is a hands-on learning process that takes time to master.

Once you’re confident in your skills, you might start tattooing friends or volunteers under the guidance of your mentor. Building a portfolio of your work is important, showcasing a variety of styles and designs to demonstrate your abilities to potential clients.

Getting licensed and certified is often required, depending on your location. Health and safety regulations vary, but generally, you’ll need to pass exams on infection control and safety procedures.

Building a clientele and reputation takes time. Starting at a tattoo shop or studio can provide exposure and help you establish connections within the industry. As a tattoo artist, your income can vary. At the beginning of your career, earnings might be modest as you build a client base and improve on your skills. Remember, becoming a tattoo artist requires dedication, patience, and a commitment to continuous learning. The industry is competitive, but with skill, persistence, and a passion for the art, you can carve out a rewarding career in tattooing.

How Much Can I Earn As A Tattoo Apprentice?

Most tattoo apprenticeships often begin with little to no monetary compensation. Instead, apprenticeships are mainly focused on education, experience, and hands-on learning under the guidance of an experienced tattoo artist. This initial phase can be seen as an investment in your future career rather than immediate financial gain.

The duration of your apprenticeship plays a significant role in your earnings. Apprenticeships can typically span from several months to a year or more. During this time, your income will not be comparable to that of an established tattoo artist. However, the knowledge and skill development you gain can be highly rewarding in the long run.

You should also note that studios situated in major cities or vibrant tattoo districts may offer more client traffic and opportunities, potentially providing slightly better compensation compared to studios in less bustling areas.

As you progress in your apprenticeship and your skills improve, you might have the opportunity to assist the main artist with tattoos. Some studios offer a portion of the earnings from tattoos you contribute to, which can provide a modest source of income. Additionally, you might receive tips from clients for your assistance during their tattoo sessions, contributing to your earnings.

While the immediate financial gain might not be substantial, the education and experience gained during your apprenticeship are invaluable. You’ll learn about hygiene and safety protocols, equipment handling, tattoo techniques, and gain insights into the operations of a tattoo studio. The portfolio you build and the skills you develop during this period lay the groundwork for your future career as a tattoo artist.

How Much Should I Charge For Tattoos?

Setting the right price for a tattoo requires a balance between your skill level, the complexity of the design, and the local market. Consider factors such as the size, style, and customization of the tattoo. Complex designs and specialized techniques should demand higher rates. Also, take into account your studio’s reputation, location, and overhead costs.

Research competitors’ rates in your area to gauge the right pricing. Factor in consultation time, aftercare, and potential touch-ups. Communicate your pricing structure transparently to clients during consultations. As you gain experience and demand, consider gradually adjusting your rates to reflect your growth and expertise.

Are There Any Downsides To Being A Tattoo Artist?

Downsides To Being A Tattoo ArtistSource @primitivetattoo via Instagram

While being a tattoo artist offers creative freedom and the opportunity to bring art to life, it’s essential to recognize that this profession comes with its share of challenges. The physical demands of the job cannot be understated. Long hours spent standing or sitting, often in awkward positions, combined with the repetitive motions of tattooing, can lead to physical strain and discomfort. This strain can result in fatigue, muscular issues, and possibly long-term health concerns.

Health and safety are top priorities. Working with needles and inks can be risky, so it’s essential to follow strict hygiene protocols to prevent infections and other health problems. This commitment to safety applies to both you and your clients. It’s normal to feel anxious about the possibility of transmitting infections, which is why it’s so important to be meticulous about cleanliness and sterilization.

The financial side of being a tattoo artist can be tough, especially in the beginning. It takes time to build a loyal clientele and establish a reputation, which can lead to inconsistent income. There may be times when you’re busy and times when business is slow. This means you need to be financially prepared to handle these fluctuations.

Artistic burnout is real. As a tattoo artist, you have the privilege of bringing your creativity to life, but the demand for a constant stream of designs can be overwhelming. It can be hard to balance commercial work with your artistic expression. It’s important to find ways to rekindle your passion so you don’t get burned out.

The competitive nature of the tattoo industry cannot be overlooked. With many talented artists vying for clients, standing out and attracting a steady stream of customers requires continuous effort in marketing, networking, and maintaining a strong online presence. This level of competition can at times be daunting, especially for those new to the field.


Tattoo artistry is a blend of art, skill, and business. It requires creativity, technical expertise, and the ability to run a successful business. From designing tattoos to pricing and managing clients, every aspect of the job needs to be carefully considered. So if you’re thinking about becoming a tattoo artist, know that it’s not all sunshine and roses. But if you’re willing to embrace the challenges and keep going, your passion and persistence will help you succeed.

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