Can You Tell The Difference Between A Cheap Or Expensive Tattoo?

May 17, 2017

|Diego Cera

For many ancient cultures, body modifications were a means of expression and spiritual purification. From the millenary tattoos of the Maori tribes, which indicate a person's role in society, to those tattoos made in March at the Wat Bang Phra temple in Thailand to protect people from harm. Tattoos are a key element in countless traditions across the world. 

The art of tattooing is not just manipulating a machine with  fast moving needles. It is the product of a rich story that can't possibly be told in just a few hours. A tattoo artist must create an almost mystical connection with their design and their client's skin, just like any other artist would.
The thing is that society still doesn't regard images on the skin as true art, unlike a painting or sculpture exhibited in a gallery. A tattoo is actually an investment, and the real price goes beyond money. You must be aware of the pros, cons, and potential risks of getting a cheap tattoo, but also take into account that a pricy design does not guarantee quality.


A tattoo artist who really knows what they are doing will never choose acrylic dye over vegetable dye. The first one is made out of metals, so it can cause cancer in the long run.
Any tattoo studio must be clean and in fit conditions. This is of utmost importance, but this makes it more expensive, of course. Just having the right machines to sterilize needles, grips, and tips is expensive, so good tattoo artists may charge expensive amounts according to hourly rates. On average, the hourly rate for a tattoo in the United States goes from $50 to $250, whereas elite artists can charge even an hourly rate of $500. 

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Sometimes graphic artists try out tattooing to broaden their horizons, and there's nothing wrong with that, but no one is a professional when they start doing any form of art. Also working with the skin is much more difficult than working with a flat and even surface. A professional tattoo artist won't charge for the design, but for their expertise.

When you leave your skin in the hands of a true artist, you're trusting someone who sees it as unique canvas and will do their best to deliver a special design. Someone who is only seeking money won't even make a minimum effort to offer you an original design. They will probably download any outline from the Internet and do a careless version of it.

There's a reason why tattoo artists charge per hourly rate. They prefer to take as much time as needed to select the correct combination of colors and create an excellent design. Colors like yellow and orange can ruin the whole design if the artist doesn't wait until the swelling subsides to check how the color pigment is reacting.
You also have to understand that tattooing is similar to a surgical process, so your tattoo artist must have a first-aid certification. People fainting or experiencing changes in blood pressure levels due to the pain of the needle is more common than you would've thought. 


So how can you make sure the studio does a good job before the needle touches your skin? Simple: A good tattoo artist will have a book with a compilation of all their designs, while others will ask you just to trust their words. Moreover, true professionals will never use stencils. They apply the dye directly on the skin, even if it's a simple tattoo.

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It is essential to learn to identify a true tattoo artist before trusting them. Remember, your health and skin wellbeing are at stake in this case. Ending up with one of the worst tattoos you could ever get in your life is something I'm sure you don't want. It would be a nightmare impossible to erase. 

If this is your first tattoo, you may want to start with something small. These are some designs that can inspire you:
20 Small Tattoos You Will Love To Keep Secret

Discreet And Elegant Tattoos To Remember Life’s Memorable Moments

Translated by Andrea Valle

Diego Cera

Diego Cera