Tattoos: lots of people want them, some have them, some hate them, some regret getting them, and others are addicted. However, tattoos are not cheap. I am sure you don’t want to end up on one of those tattoo cover-up shows, either, so it’s likely you’ll do some research to find a good artist, who will come with a cost. How much of a cost is up to you. I have heard that many people start thinking about what they’re going to get next right after their first tattoo, and it becomes a somewhat costly cycle from there.
The financial implications tattoos can have
Immediately after getting the tattoo
My boyfriend is one of those tattoo lovers. He is an artist, and he takes the view that your body can be a canvas. You might think that with this mindset, he would have sleeves or something, right? Nope. He got three tattoos while he was in college, and stopped once he graduated because he could no longer justify the cost. He had to worry about saving up for a car and being able to afford his student loan payments and rent.
He doesn’t regret getting his tattoos at all, but I can tell that sometimes he wishes he would have waited, or spaced them out a bit over time. He was working part-time in college, and the money he spent on getting his tattoos could have gone toward tuition, or a car fund (indeed, the total cost of his tattoos was almost as much as he paid for his car). Instead, after college, he was left working full-time at the same job, and his savings rate wasn’t that great. You like to think you’ll graduate with an amazing job, so you don’t worry too much about your bank account while in college. Sadly, that didn’t happen for him, and he had to rebuild what would have been left in there had he not gotten his tattoos. He is still tossing around plenty of ideas, but he is unsure of when he will add a fourth as student loans are taking a priority.
So how much did they cost? Well, he has a large tattoo on his back and leg, and another smaller one on the inside of his arm. They cost $1,050, $800 and $150 respectively. Tattoos often go by the cost per hour – $150/hr seems to be the going rate, which matched his experience. He said that black and white would have been $75/hr. His back tattoo took four sessions for a total of 10 hours, his leg took two sessions for 5 hours, and his arm took 2 hours for two sessions, one of which was for a touch-up.
The other “hidden” costs of tattoos
Tattoos don’t just cost money, either. They can cost you time and pain. A spontaneous, possibly drunken thought (HIMYM: Ted and the butterfly tattoo anyone?) might get you a simple tattoo in one session, but if you have ideas and sketches of what you want, you will have to take it in to an artist. If you don’t know exactly what you want, they can draw up a few things for you, but again, this will take time and add to the price. If you’re planning on getting a series of tattoos, or a sleeve, it will take several sessions before it is completed, thus you might find yourself going back to the artist on a monthly basis.
Tattoos also take time to heal, and it can still be painful after the fact as they burn for a few days. According to my boyfriend, his back tattoo was also really itchy for a month while it peeled. You may have to take a slight break from working out depending on the placement of your tattoo. My boyfriend started running two days after getting his leg tattooed, and it ended up being a little bloody afterward.
What to consider when thinking about getting a tattoo
Tattoos can be viewed almost like an expensive hobby, as you’re technically collecting pieces of art, just on your body instead of in your home. I think it’s important to take these things into consideration when contemplating getting a tattoo, or continuing your hobby:
- Do you have a rough idea of what you want? Are you sure you want it on your body forever?
Tattoo all healed
- Where are you going to place your tattoo? Some women regret getting tattoos on their shoulders as it might show when they wear a dress (most importantly on their wedding day).
- The placement of the tattoo could also be a concern in your workplace. How accepting of tattoos are your bosses? According to Forbes, more acceptable than in the past! I think our small office is split – half have tattoos and half don’t; one of my bosses has several. It was pretty surprising!
- Your pain tolerance. Do you like needles? You better before you spend hours having them dig into your skin!
- Do you have a budget for it? You should probably go through the process and get a price from an artist you respect so you have a better idea of the monetary cost.
- Find an artist you like beforehand. Many have portfolios on their websites so you can get a feel for their style. I wouldn’t be afraid of asking them a lot of questions about the procedure, either, as it’s important to be informed. You need to trust the artist – again, this is something going on your body forever. Choose wisely.
- You may have to change your routine around a bit – especially if you’re a lady. You should only be using unscented lotion/product while your new tattoo heals.
- You should avoid sun exposure after getting your tattoo, so it might be beneficial to get it done in the colder months where you can cover it up with clothing.
One thing I don’t think you should consider is the reactions of others. Some people are very strongly against tattoos for one reason or another, and will judge you based off of having one (or more). People judge each other regardless! You won’t care what others have to say about it if you do it for yourself.
I think the Forbes article shows that tattoos are becoming a bit more commonplace, so hopefully the haters will be decreasing in number. Even still, my boyfriend has run into silly comments and even friends/teammates teasing him because they didn’t understand why he got them. Do people need a solid reason to justify it? I don’t think so.
Everyone is different
Tattoos are not for everyone. You need to make sure you can handle the pain and short maintenance while it heals. It’s so important to take care of your skin during this process, or it can end up scarring or fading which would ruin the tattoo you paid dearly for. Almost every tattoo company website has a section on the aftercare of your tattoo.
I personally am undecided on getting a tattoo. I honestly would not have considered it if I hadn’t met my boyfriend, just because it’s not something I’ve been exposed to. I am not sure if I could take having a needle stabbing at me for hours. If I do anything, it is going to be a small design just to get a feel for what it is like, and if it will be for me. I can’t see myself ever spending $500+ on a tattoo, though. I guess it’s because I value other things in life more (i.e., being debt-free, traveling, early retirement). I was wondering if any of you felt similarly, as that may be a reason I haven’t seen many discussing it!
Do you have any tattoos or thoughts on the cost of a tattoo? Would you consider getting one, or have any stories of someone else getting inked?