Chapter Twentythree Prices and Selling

What will you charge for a tattoo and what will it work out per hour? Walk into any legitimate tattoo shop and you will notice that the price of a good tattoo is not generally cheap. That is. not inexpensive. When considering the price of equipment today's inflation, the skill involved, and the cost of overhead and floor space, tattoos are not exactly a had deal either. The fact is that they are a permanent artwork investment that will go everywhere the customer goes. Other than the free tattooson friends in the beginning in trade for advertisement, the prices of your work should be consistent. Don't start off underselling yourseir and then later raise your prices People will come back years later and expect the same low prices. Try toset a standard as soon as possible One way to do this is to visit the good tattooisLs in your area, and take a look at what they are charging. Compare different tattoo size* and try to get a pricing guide down pat in your head. This can be used as a reference for your own prices. Don't try to undersell the local established tattooists in your area, because besides being unfair to them, you don't want tocause an uproar as the new kid on the block. It can cost you many friends.

Also, It's not ton good to quote prices over the phone. Most people that call are j ust curious, anyway. Some are shopping for the cheapest price. Just tell them to come down and visit you and that it will be worth the trip.

Another way of pricing, which is very popular, is called the AB-C method The basics to this are quite simple. Make upacard or poster to hangover the design sheets with the following information on it. Let's sav you have figured out ihat your basic commercial designs come in three size ranges. Small work is $25.00 These you list as "A" designs. Medium sue work is 5:1.1.00 and is listed as" B" designs. Larger pieces are 560,00 and Ihey will be put down as 'C" designs. Make this large and plain on the poster, the price and letter designations. Now all thai is left to do is to place the appropriate letter sticker on your corresponding flash sheet designs. On one sheet for example, you wilt have some that have an "A" next to them, some with a "B" or a ''€," depending upon their size. This way, prices don't clutter up your Hash sheets and it gives the customer a chance to decide what they can afford to work around their pockelbook. An alternative method is to have designs illustrated in books. This is useful if you lack sufficient wall space.

Another method to use iscalled the grid system pricing guide. This is whereagrid is made up on a piece of paper or acetate in one inch square increments The idea here is to cover the tattoo with thegrid and see how many square inches it encompasses You would charge by Ihe square inch of tattoo space. Vou will have to determine what you want to charge per square inch. This can save you time, and if you decide on different prices, all you have to do is charge more or less per square inch instead of changing all the (lash sheets.

These are just a few examples of pricing and it is probable that the tattooist will find a way of pricing that is both fair to the customer and profitable to himself. Always remember though, don't be greedy.

Selling Work

Another aspect of tattooing which is linked to pricing is the possibility of drumming up more business. This is self-promotion, and there are endless ways to go about doing it- One way is, as soon as you open up a shop, call the local newspaper and try to get them to do a local story on you. A lot of people will read this that otherwise would not have any other way of knowing about your shop. Advertising yourself always helps and to place an advertisement for tattooing, promoting yourself, will really get you some business. An advertisement in any related type magazine is also good. Business cards are a must to hand out to people and it is a tradition to design them with clever drawings and original ideas. T-shirts, buttons and bandanas with your shop name log silk-screened on them are another way to go. They are like walking billboards, and the price to have them printed up is marginal compared to the business that you will get. Many tattooists photograph all the tattoos that they have done (while on the customer). When a collection of them starts to pile up. arrange them in books or on the walls and they become a great portfolio, showing what you are capable of doing. Proof of your work really puts the odds in your favor when a customer is undecided about actually getting a tattoo. Following these guidelines, it shouldn't be hard to get more work, and a little imagination in promoting yourself, really adds up to more business. Tattooing advertises itself by word of mouth, and aside from the cost of business cards and some advertising in the yellow pages, they advertise themselves. You can sell the same tattoo over and over again, but to the customers, they're always new.

A Word of Advice

Whether we like it or not. (he tattooing industry has a lot of jealousy within its ranks. There is countless reasons for this and some of them will give you the impression that a certain individual should have his head checked. His attitude won't really register with you until you have been into tattooing a short period of time. Some people will think they own a whole town, city or county and tell you there is no room for another artist in that area. In some cases there isn't enough business for only one, but if he is established and doing good work, he really has nothing to worry about, but you can't tell him that. He already has all the answers. Just be very selective here, you pick your location. Never knock your competition even though he might be giving you the bad mouth all the time. It only makes proposed customers curious and they will check it out. believe me. Some tattooists get along fine together, they sort of run in a click, and if you fit into that particular click and are accepted, you're all set.

One thing in this business that will get you accepted quickly is to turn out exceptional tattoo work. At this point, your competition knows that you're better than he thought and his attitude towards you might even change, especially if he figures he can learn something from you after seeing someof the super work you're turningout. Don't brag about your work, you get a reputation in the tattoo business from other artists, not the customer. Strange as it seems, this is true. Always do your best, conduct yourself in a professional manner and above all, be a nice guy. Public relations is a very important part of tattooing, it has a lot to do with how much you have in your pocket at the end of the week.

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