We’ve all heard the terms “Trainer to the stars” and “Accountant to the stars” and “(insert otherwise mundane profession) to the stars”; all of which prove that sometimes just doing stuff for celebrities can make you a celebrity yourself. This is especially true in the tattoo industry; where as sometimes stars don’t want anyone to know were they train or that they need the help of a financial planner, everyone loves to brag about who did their body art. Whether it’s via Twitter, during interviews, or with the ultra-cool (sarcasm alert) Instagram photo from inside the shop, everyone who you’ve ever heard of loves to show you how cool they are and how great their ink artist of choice is. We guess it’s like any other form of physical art in that you want to give the artist credit and show that you can afford the piece, but it’s still kind of annoying. However, there is a plus to all of this tattoo braggadocio: artists are getting paid these days. Who’s getting paid the best? Let’s find out! We’re going to try and stick to artists who we can get at least ballpark numbers on, so don’t be too upset if we leave out your favorite.
Artists like Mike Rubendall (from TLC’s “Tattoo Wars”), Bob Tyrell, Dave Tedder, Brandon Bond, and Stephanie Tamez all make awesome livings by charging in the $200 per hour range, having minimum session times, and by booking full schedules. However, the big moneymakers list starts with Kat Von D. The tabloid sensation and star of both “Miami Ink” and “LA Ink” has a shop minimum of $200/hr, so we have to figure that her hourly is up around at least the $300 range…which is exactly what Paul Booth charges per hour. Featured on CNN, CNBC, Discovery Channel, and TLC; Booth has worked on members of metal bands like Sepultura, Pantera, and Slipknot, giving them a taste of his dark and demon laden style. Famous clients are clearly the key to big bucks too, just ask New York based artist Bang Bang, who gets over $400/hr to ink stars like Rihanna and Justin Beiber. His work is good, but rumor has it that he’s not really worth the trip to the Bahamas that it costs you to have a medium sized piece done. In reality, is anyone worth that much cash? Don’t ask Anil Gupta, we already know his answer.
Charging a whopping $450/hr, Gupta has done work on celebrities like John McEnroe, Christian Slater, and Rosie O’Donnell. He’s know for his abstract work as well as his ability to perfectly copy works of art onto his clients’ bodies. He’s booked up six months in advance too, so you know that business is good. Not as good as Ami James though, as the “Miami Ink” and “NY Ink” star charges over $500 for just sixty minutes in the chair. His ownership of three shops (his third is Love Hate Social Club in London) and his clothing company DeVille has given him a personal net worth of over $5 million, so yeah…he’s doing well for himself. However, he’s cheap compared to Scott Campbell.
Tattooing only on weekend because his lucrative career in advertising design takes up his weekdays, Campbell has charged the likes of Marc Jacobs, Josh Hartnett, and Heath Ledger a thousand bucks for their first hour of work. Granted, he drops his price to “only” $200 for each additional hour, but that still gives him a pretty insane hourly rate, and most likely means that he’s living large when he’s not in the shop or in the office.
Once looked at as the dregs of society, tattoo artists are finally getting the recognition as true artists that they deserve, and with prices as high as these guys, they’re getting the cash they deserve. Of course, they won’t be getting that cash from us, we prefer to be inked in Thailand, where fifteen hours of work from a guy who has a masters degree in art and design will run you about $500. Yeah, America is overpriced…but we still love this place.