Have you ever looked at a list of the most expensive tattoo artists and wondered what was up with their prices? Well, it's a truth generally accepted in the art community that good tattoos aren’t cheap and that anything under a specific price is probably not a great investment.
Of course, you’ll always have that buddy who’ll try to convince you that it's not universally true that a cheap tattoo is not good. That’s usually your pal who just bought a tattoo gun and who’s trying to sell you on their skills. Yeah, they’re probably not to be trusted here.
In fact, we’re here to say that it’s a safe bet that an artist who doesn't charge much isn't giving you much value. They might be someone who’s new to the practice or a tattoo artist who wants to underbid to make money. Whatever the case, they’re probably not a great option.
In fact, if you’re finding someone who’s charging less than $50 for a small tattoo, $150 for a medium tattoo, or $450 for a large tattoo, you should probably stay away from them. After all, building a reputation as an artist takes years and a lot of hard work and practice.
In fact, building both the general artistic skill and the specific tattoo skill takes even longer. After all, a doctor goes to school for seven years, and they miss out on their sleep, family, and social life to be on the bottom rung at a hospital as a resident before making good cash.
On the same note, a tattoo artist can spend longer than a decade of learning. In fact, they never stop learning new skills from their first tattoo until the day they retire. As a result, the most expensive tattoo artists in the world make great money producing beautiful artwork.
This list highlighting the most expensive tattoo artists globally was carefully assembled through extensive research and careful double-checking of all our information. It’s important to use that our data provides you with real value, so we take steps like:
- Checking our last article to see what we had to say on the topic most recently
- Researching each artist’s price to see if they’re still on our list
- Updating prices and tweaking our listings, if necessary, for this process
- Double-checking with review sites and other pricing professionals to learn more
- Continually upgrading our articles to provide great and accurate information
Why Tattoo Artists Charge So Much
When reading through our list below, you might feel outraged at the prices these artists charged. Even though their artwork is clearly fantastic, it might seem ridiculous to you that they’d ask for so much money. However, there are a few reasons that they can charge this much cash.
Training is Challenging
While tattoo artists have a similar lengthy training period as doctors, their careers are quite different. After all, there's no Ph.D. in ink. In fact, some artists began drawing before they started kindergarten, while many have degrees in art or have painted over 100 murals.
Often, the most expensive tattoo artists have inked thousands of people. In the counterculture world of tattoo art, this is how you earn your place among the elite. It’s in these shops that artists learn their tattoo history and techniques, often in pretty rough conditions.
It’s common for beginner artists to provide low-paid or even unpaid labor at a shop where they're treated horrifically. Clients cuss at them, scream at them, and sometimes pass out or throw up on them. Sometimes, the shop owners are even very hard on them.
For the most dedicated and skilled artists, this process is worth it to be able to create some of the world's most stunning and permanent yet impermanent art. More importantly, getting paid the big bucks to do it and live a great life producing attractive body art.
The Work is Tough
Tattoo artists are skilled professionals who have to create some pretty challenging art. For example, some tattoo artists commemorate loved ones who have passed away. Sometimes, they recreate paintings or photos worth thousands or millions on human skin.
Furthermore, many cancer and accident survivors heal their pain by enduring more to turn their horrors into beauty. In other words, tattoo artists are skilled artisans who provide a real service for their customers, and they definitely deserve good money.
Also, all that tattoo ink and those tools, as well as shop rental or mortgage costs? All these things cost money. Sometimes it's a lot more than you think. Don’t forget that artists often have to pay expensive marketing fees and licensing costs to stay in business.
As a result, judging an individual tattoo's price based on style or size is inaccurate at best. Obviously, a full-body suit generally costs more than a full back piece, which in turn requires more than a leg or sleeve. However, this is not the whole story.
The most expensive tattoo artists in the world get paid for their talent and reputation. Oddly, this makes tattooing one of the fairest businesses to be in once an artist is established. On that note, rather than ranking expensive tattoos, let’s check out the most expensive artists.
The 10 Most Expensive Tattoo Artists Working Today
Now that you know why the most expensive tattoo artists in the world charge so much money, we can break down what we found to ensure you get the results that you want. These artists are available throughout the world and can provide you with great body artwork.
10. Oliver Peck - $100/hr
As a one-time Guinness world record holder for the most tattoos done in twenty-four hours (four hundred and fifteen), Oliver is a very famous face. Though his record has since been beaten by his ex-wife, Hollis Cantrell (521), Peck is still one of the highest-paid tattoo artists in the world.
Fans of the tattoo world have probably seen him judging on Ink Masters. When he's not on screen, he owns and operates two shops in Texas where you can engage his services for about $100 an hour as he creates beautiful and intricate tattoos for your body. Over the years, he has expanded his services beyond tattoos to include piercings, tooth gems, and even various merchandise. His shop employs many different artists who charge far less. That said, those who can afford Peck try to use him exclusively.
9. Mike Rubendall - $125/hr
This hot name in the ink world belongs to the owner of Kings Avenue in Long Island. He is well-known internationally because his work has won over 50 awards. If you're looking for a $25 regret-me-later tattoo, then you're in the wrong place because he charges good prices.
Frankly, he deserves to be one of the most expensive tattoo artists in the world. Mike has worked and traveled all over the world, but he's probably best known for his Japanese-style full-back pieces that create a beautiful and traditional style for many clients.
His traditional style is flawless and stunningly colorful, not to mention well worth the cost. As one of the most expensive tattoo artists in the world, he’s often very busy, so if you want to work with Rubendall, make sure that you book ahead to get a spot with him ASAP.
8. Bob Tyrrell - $150/hr
Bob Tyrrell is as far as you can get from the ultra-traditional style of Mike Rubendall. Bob's work is known for its photo-realistic quality and horror pieces. If you want the Bride of Frankenstein from a still shot of the original movie on your arm, this is the artist you need.
Like most of the incredible artists on this list, Bob also does other forms of art and sells his own merchandise. However, this industry late bloomer is the go-to guy for horror portraits. He’s particularly popular in Detroit, where horror themes are often very prevalent.
Tyrrell has also become a go-to option for various celebrities, particularly musicians. Kid Rock has gotten work from Tyrrell, as has Scott Ian of Anthrax, Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, and Kerry King of Slayer. That makes him a very in-demand artist in the area.
7. Dave Tedder -$150/hr
Dave Tedder started his career as a piercer, but only because he knew it would get him into the ink world. As it turns out, he was right, and he quickly moved on from piercings to tattoos, which was his lifelong dream. That said, he still pierces in his very popular UK shop.
Like many artists, he's well known for his massive and intricate Asian-style full-back pieces. This style integrates very intricate and beautifully designed styles, and Tedder brings a steady hand, a strong command of color, and other skills to his tattoos.
That professionalism and excellence have helped him become one of the top-earning tattoo artists in the world. It’s rare that artists get to live out their dreams, but his dedication shows that it’s possible and can serve as an inspiration to struggling tattoo artists.
6. Stephanie Tamez or Kat Von D - $200/hr
So far, the most expensive tattoo artists on this list have been men. However, if you prefer a female artist, there are many available. For example, if you want to enjoy a pleasant, friendly, and cute female tattoo artist, you'll pay a pretty penny to work with Kat Von D.
She is arguably the most media-famous female tattoo artist on earth right now, but Stephanie Tamez is hot on her heels with the same high rate. You won't go wrong getting inked by either of these dynamic women due to their professionalism and high art skills.
In fact, artists like these are working to close the gender gap in the tattoo industry by providing a more diverse field. Though still a heavily male-dominated industry, Kat Von D and Stephanie Tamez have broken down barriers that should see more women joining this field.
5. Paul Booth - $300/hr Plus
Full disclosure: we love Paul. This fun, fabulous, and freaky personality is one of the old masters in the tattoo art world. Paul draws his inspiration from artists like Boris Vallejo and has a famously twisted and dark sense of humor that shows up in his work.
If you rock, and we mean stadium concert rock and roll, then getting tattooed by Paul is probably on your bucket list. That is if you haven't already been inked by him, of course. His work features a macabre twist that makes them popular with heavy metal musicians.
That said, if you're not a rock star, you can still get ink from Paul, but you might want to consider bringing him a gothic gift as a token of respect for his talent and years in the business. Then, ask him about the time some people tried to give him a human skull they had found at a graveyard.
In a very real sense, Booth helped pioneer horror-themed tattoo art. Though such artwork wasn’t invented by Booth, his sense of humor, excellent artistic skills, and diverse styles have made him the in-demand artist of choice for horror nerds.
4. Eva KRBDK or Bang Bang - $400/hr
It's no surprise that these two amazing artists who work at the same shop, charge the same fees. Eva is known for her modern circle-based designs that will take your breath away. She’s also known for her precision of lines and her excellent attention to detail.
Bang Bang (Keith McCurdy), Eva’s shop partner, is probably most famous for tattooing Justin Beiber at thirty thousand feet (while flying) using a remote control system. That stunt definitely made him an in-demand professional and one of the most expensive tattoo artists in the world.
Whatever your style, you can get your tattoo art at Bang Bang's shop, but you'll have to foot the bill for top-tier work. As the highest-paid female on our list, Eva KRBDK remains an inspiration for many girl tattoo artists and has shown they possess many fantastic skills.
3. Anil Gupta - $450/hr
Once touted as the most expensive tattoo artist in the world, Anil is still in the top three. His biomechanical wonders are probably our favorite of any Biomech artist in the world other than H.R. Geiger (and that legendary artist never tattooed).
Of course, with talent like this, Anil does a whole lot more than just the Biomech pieces. Nevertheless, if you dream of being a cyborg, you can look like one while you wait for technology to catch up with your dreams to transform yourself into a robotic being.
Note that Anil has been tattooing for a very long time and that he legendarily ignores trends and styles. To Gupta, trends and styles are temporary and typically don’t last too long. As a result, he sticks to his guns, and clearly, this has made him a respected professional.
2. Ami James - $500/hr
Ami might be best known for his TV show (where he might not always come across the best), but it’s James’ art that stands out. He’s one of the most respected tattoo artists in the world and has earned the second-highest rate for a reason: he’s amazingly talented.
Currently, he is the co-owner of shops all over America. Internationally, you'll need to book him well in advance if you plan to visit for an Ami James original. Like many masters, Ami does several different styles, but his Japanese ink is what we like best.
James’ story is particularly inspiring because he came from a very poor and rough upbringing. His father left his family early, and his family struggled. Since then, he’s become one of the most expensive tattoo artists in the world through hard work and determination.
1. Scott Campbell - $2000 for the first hour and $200 for every additional hour
Though he should be best known for his absolutely breathtaking art, Scott might be the only artist on this list who's known for his exorbitant fees. Charging $2,000 for the first hour (in which he can often finish many simple tattoos), his rates decrease to a “mere” $200/hour after.
Is that kind of price worth it? Absolutely, because this Williamsburg artist does stunning work in almost any style you can dream up for him. Scott owns Saved Tattoo, and he has a long waiting list, so you'll want to book now if you plan to see him in the next few years.
Note that Campbell also owns a luxury cannabis brand and relocated to LA in 2017 from New York. Furthermore, he has also painted several fine art pieces over the years, though his tattoo art remains his most famous and high-earning venture to date.
Most Expensive Tattoo
Bonus - Most Expensive "Tattoo" That Isn't a Tattoo At All
How much do you think the most expensive tattoo in the world costs? Well, no matter what you guess, you’ll probably not hit the right amount: $924,000! This diamond tattoo covers Minky Van der Wurtzen’s skin. She is a South African model with hundreds of diamonds in her skin.
Now, it's not actually a tattoo. Instead, it includes 612 Shimansky Ideal Cut diamonds implanted in her skin. Technically, this makes her the woman with the most expensive implants. However, it’s commonly called a tattoo by most expats. Therefore, we thought she was worth discussing.
There are lots of artists who didn't make this list and who create great work. Frankly, we could write a book about hundreds of tattoo artists and their prices, as well as their work quality. In general, this list covers some of the more famous and expensive artists in the world right now.
However, rates are subject to change. As tattoos become more mainstream and accepted, these fantastic artists have become household names. It's about time. The level of education, skill, and talent that goes into painting a living canvas print with needles and ink is truly next level.
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Written by Liz Flynn
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