Q: How much does a full sleeve cost?
You’ll always get one that replies with “How long is a piece of string!”
Nowadays a tattoo is more than just a tattoo, it’s a piece of art and it’s up to you whether you choose to make that an investment or not.
So many people end up with a mediocre sleeve’s they are not completely happy with as they insist on focusing on that question; “How much?” Personal experience has taught us that price shopping for tattoos usually leaves you sat in a sub standard tattooist’s chair, receiving a sub standard tattoo. Then what do you have? A sleeve that you’re unhappy with.
So what do you do? Live with it for a while? Get it lasered off? Lets face it, the options here aren’t great! Most people, after a few years of seeing other people having great artwork will find themselves another artist. They will then ask them to try and salvage the bad decision they made all those years ago. Assuming they have learnt from their mistake they will have done their research, not based their decision on “How much” and found themselves a competent artist. Problem solved right?
Not quite. Now the tattooist is in trouble, instead of a blank canvas to allow the artist to excel and create, they are up against the workings of another. Even with the best will and expertise in the world cover ups and reworks never turn out the same quality as a tattoo that starts with blank skin. Success is determined by whether or not the tattoo looks better than it did before, not by completion of original intent.
Follow these rules to get the best answer to your question AND a quality tattoo:
1) Decide what you want your sleeve to look like – Think style (traditional, colour, black and grey, realistic), think theme, think subject matter.
2) Spend hours ( We mean hours) scouring the internet, social media sites looking at the hundreds of tattooists work – be grateful that you live in the internet age and don’t have to go from shop to shop looking at portfolios.
3) Pick your tattooist – don’t look purely at location, you want it bad enough you will get there.
4) Contact your artist – arrange a consultation. This is a big piece, this is an important piece. Any artist with any worth or sense of decency will understand that and will allow you some time to chat about what it is you want.
5) During your consultation you have the opportunity to ask THAT question but most artists prefer the more delicate “What is your hourly rate?”, followed by “About how many sessions do you think this will take and how many hours will we be working per session?”. If this is more than you were hoping/thinking it might be the time to mention it to the artist and discuss any other options. Be honest and up front. Artists aren’t there to rob you, they just want what what their work is worth. Some will move on this, especially if you are having a large piece done. Other’s however maintain their rates no matter what. Every artist is different.
6) Most importantly, DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU PURCHASE.
You have your entire life to wear this tattoo and you shouldn’t sell yourself short. Make sure that every time you look at it you’re satisfied. Tattoos are the only thing you have with you for the rest of your life, everywhere you go until you die. It amazes us what some people will spend on shoes, holidays or even out on the town and then bargain shop for a tattoo!