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Tattoo pricing. Price a piece or per hour?

Hi guys!
I'm having a little problem on deciding my pricing method. Any input on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Back in the UK, the pricing method is per hour and it's pretty much set in stone. Nearly every reputable shop does as such. But the thing is I've relocated to Istanbul and here it's common to give a price depending on the piece.

I don't like it.

First of all, I think it scares the customer off. Without being able to discuss their tattoo furthermore, once they hear the sum they immediately get cold feet.
For this reason I find that scratchers are blooming left and right that quote comparably low prices.

Second of all, clients think that they're being ripped off.
If you quote a higher price than they expect they think you're trying to take advantage of them.
Plus, they're right to think so.
There are many people in the industry here that raise their prices in an instant if they see the client get out of a bloody bimmer.

Lastly, clients try to haggle like hell.

There are many so called artists that take advantage of this pricing method. They make up costs from the top of their heads and downtalk other establishments for quoting high (or low) prices.

I'm opening my own shop in three months and I want to apply the good old set price per hour method, but the thing is; there are no other shops that do so.

What do you think about it?

Do you think it's a bad idea because it's not the norm here or do you think it'll be a breathe of fresh air?

Has any of you been in the same predicament or the exact opposite?

Any more pro-cons for each side you can think of?

Cheers!


Replies:

RE:Tattoo pricing. Price a piece or per hour?

i hate by the hr personally...i think that there is more room for someone to get ripped off that way. i do everything by the piece and if its a sleeve or back ill quote line session cost then cost per session and qiote them what well do per session. more detail=more time so quote accordingly. i cant count how many times ive seen an artist turn a piece i know they could kill in 2hrs into a 3-4hr piece cuz their low on rent!
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RE:Tattoo pricing. Price a piece or per hour?

Thanks for answering!

I honestly think the exact opposite way. That it's harder to intimidate and/or rip off the client with the per hour method.
I think it's mainly because of the questions the clients ask after pricing.

If I just state that the piece they want will cost them 300 quid the question I usually get is 'Why so much?' and they immediately try to haggle. I think it's because they think pricing the tattoo is entirely up to me and if I wanted I could get it done for 50 quid.
But if I tell them my rate is (ie) 100 quid per hour and the piece they want will take 3 hours it's easier for them to accept the price. I think knowing that they're paying the same rate as every other client I have makes them feel better.

I guess it's about the tattoo industry in the area too...

I've had clients come from Spain and France to get my work (which is something that makes me extremely proud) but the majority of my clientele are Turkish and they're not really educated in the tattoo area. Many have the appaling view of 'the cheaper the better' and they don't care if they piss me off (by haggling over the already set price) right before the tattoo. I'm sometimes so tempted to draw a moustache on their Dita von Teese portrait that I have to take a ciggie break to calm down. Tehehe.
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RE:Tattoo pricing. Price a piece or per hour?

This is solely a marketing issue. If you allow haggling, you will receive hagglers. There's a time and a place to make a deal... as in, when you really want to do the piece/excited about the subject matter or personally attached to it. If your portfolio is top notch, that's what you need to sell. I quote hourly, with a very clear disclaimer that "I am not the cheapest in town" Sometimes it's difficult to stand up for your pricing with the fear that your paycheck is going to walk out the door. My suggestion is quote your price based on your portfolio. People will either pay for quality work because you sell your work as top notch OR the feel of the shop they walk into. I have set my shop up to feel upscale, so already people should feel as if this is a higher end establishment... then on top of that, my portfolio seals the deal. People walk out... it happens. Stand firm but not pissy about your pricing. Sell your wares as better than the others. Your confidence and unwavering commitment that you are worth it, will win in the end... even if at first, your people walk out. I have had a ton of people turn around astonished at my price, only to come back the next week based on my work. Customer service is key as well.... they will like your work, but ultimately they are also buying you... your personality is a big factor as in any sales position. If they feel comfortable they will also be more willing to accept a higher quote. My standard saying... when people want a price, is "My rates are BLAH and this tattoo is going to take me anywhere from 12-14 hours", if the reaction is taken well, then move on and get it done. If it's met with shock, I say, "You could probably get this done for 30 to 40% cheaper downtown, but as you can see from my work... you will be happy" Don't trash talk your competitors... it will only make YOU look bad. Stick to a reasonable rate and do what you do. If you allow haggling, only to get the work, or to just pay the bills, you will not put your creativity at the forefront. You will be at your most creative, and consequently, your work will be recognized as good and bring more quality clientele in, if you stick to your guns and you produce your magic on people willing to pay your price.
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RE:Tattoo pricing. Price a piece or per hour?

This is solely a marketing issue. If you allow haggling, you will receive hagglers. There's a time and a place to make a deal... as in, when you really want to do the piece/excited about the subject matter or personally attached to it. If your portfolio is top notch, that's what you need to sell. I quote hourly, with a very clear disclaimer that "I am not the cheapest in town" Sometimes it's difficult to stand up for your pricing with the fear that your paycheck is going to walk out the door. My suggestion is quote your price based on your portfolio. People will either pay for quality work because you sell your work as top notch OR the feel of the shop they walk into. I have set my shop up to feel upscale, so already people should feel as if this is a higher end establishment... then on top of that, my portfolio seals the deal. People walk out... it happens. Stand firm but not pissy about your pricing. Sell your wares as better than the others. Your confidence and unwavering commitment that you are worth it, will win in the end... even if at first, your people walk out. I have had a ton of people turn around astonished at my price, only to come back the next week based on my work. Customer service is key as well.... they will like your work, but ultimately they are also buying you... your personality is a big factor as in any sales position. If they feel comfortable they will also be more willing to accept a higher quote. My standard saying... when people want a price, is "My rates are BLAH and this tattoo is going to take me anywhere from 12-14 hours", if the reaction is taken well, then move on and get it done. If it's met with shock, I say, "You could probably get this done for 30 to 40% cheaper downtown, but as you can see from my work... you will be happy" Don't trash talk your competitors... it will only make YOU look bad. Stick to a reasonable rate and do what you do. If you allow haggling, only to get the work, or to just pay the bills, you will not put your creativity at the forefront. You will be at your most creative, and consequently, your work will be recognized as good and bring more quality clientele in, if you stick to your guns and you produce your magic on people willing to pay your price.
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RE:Tattoo pricing. Price a piece or per hour?

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From your description it seems like you'd be able to do both as far as quoting by the piece and the hour. That's what I do here, I judge how long I think the tattoo will take and give a price based on that. I even tell them up front that i think it will takes x-amount of time so I charge y-amount of money.

As far as the haggling, that is some frustrating shit. I know in some areas of the world that is a standard procedure of business, but I think it's B.S. in a tattoo shop. The way I see it you can approach it a couple of ways...

-Politely tell them that to produce high quality work takes time and the price reflects that.

-Tell them that you can find a way to work with them on price by redesigning the tattoo in a way that can make both of you happy. (or break it into session work)

And we all know how to deal with 'em if they get shitty with us.

Take it easy!
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RE:Tattoo pricing. Price a piece or per hour?

Hey,
I'm living in germany and it's normal to price per piece.
Normally you just watch the sketch, reference picture or whatever and think about how long it will take you and then you just multiply this time with your hourly rate. That's it.
I'm a young artist and sometimes I really don't know how long something will take me, so I tell them, hey iot will cost you from 200-300 € depending on the time it will take me, so the client understand why there is such a diffrence in the pricing.
So I think both systems have their pro's and cons.

Price by Piece
Pro
-Client knows exactly how much money he have to spent.
-No time pressure by the client.
Con
-It's hard to say a price if you don't know how long it will take you, but as an expierenced artist, you should know how long which piece will take you

Price per hour
Pro
-You can really take your time to do the tattoo with every little detail you want.
Con
-Whats with breaks? do you let a stopwatch run and pause it when you take a break?

I think in the end it really doesn't matter.
I like it the way we do it, so you know how much your tattoo will cost you in the end.
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RE:Tattoo pricing. Price a piece or per hour?

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Hey bro,


I only charge by the hour. However it is machine time only, My power supply has a timer so the customer can see exactly how long piece is taking. If my foot is not on the peddle, they are not paying a dime. also I do not charge for any drawing that takes less than one hour to complete, or any set up cost... If the drawing requires over an hour, ill charge a flat rate of $100 for this extra work. Also, I give a $5 continuous reduction on the hourly rate for ever hour the client is with me, If the client can sit through 12 hours of tattoo time, they will save $330....I do not negotiate price on anything, if they are more concerned about the price and try to haggle, I always say to them, "I'm sorry that you are not able to afford the tattoo you deserve, I'm sure there are some local street shops that will be happy to accommodate your budget, but thanks for visiting my shop, I have to get back to work now....."
My pricing system has been very successful, and I have never had any clients complain.... some clients are on a tight budget yet they still want that big piece done. what my system allows is for the customer to stay in control of how much they spend and allows me to stay in control of my price. if a customer only has a couple hundred bucks when they come to get their piece started, they watch my timer like a hawk, and sure enough as soon as my timer begins to get close to how much money they brought with them for that day, they always pretend to squirm and come up with some excuse to need to tap out or have to cut the session early.... So I simply do a quick map in for the next session and I get the maximum that this person is able to afford for the day... there is no discomfort or embarrassment on behalf of the client surrounding money problems and I'm able to make the client feel comfortable no matter their circumstances...They see first hand exactly how long the piece takes to complete and they feel better about spending the money... and I find that my $5 continuous hourly rate reduction has my clients saving more money and trying to do longer sittings...

example of the rate reduction works like this

let say you charge $300 per hour ( hypothetical obviously )

1st hour $300
2nd: $295
3rd: $290
4th: $285
5th: $280
6th: $275
7th: $270

ect.ect.ect.... The longer they can sit, the greater their discount each hour.... This is a great incentive to sit longer...


I hope that helps.

Take care.



Stephen Stacey
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RE:Tattoo pricing. Price a piece or per hour?

Set price is good , and you let your art and tattooing skills do the rest . I am coming over to LA at the end of September so if your shop is up and running ill check you out .
Regards .
Gary .
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