Cost of Getting a Tattoo in South Africa; Tattooing has gained immense popularity in South Africa over the past ten years, leading to an increasing number of individuals opting for this form of expression. The price of getting a tattoo can fluctuate significantly due to various factors including the tattoo studio, the artist’s experience, the complexity of the design, the use of color versus black ink, the location on the body, and the size of the tattoo. Familiarizing yourself with these pricing components will help you effectively plan your budget and explore your options when searching for the perfect tattoo.
Average Tattoo Costs in South Africa
Generally, small tattoos in South Africa, approximately 2 by 2 inches in size, can range from R300 to R800. Medium-sized tattoos, around the size of your hand, usually cost between R800 to R1500. Larger and more intricate custom tattoos are typically priced at R1500 and above. These rates differ from one tattoo studio and artist to another.
Reputable studios and experienced artists usually charge higher prices due to their investment in high-quality equipment, ink, and supplies. They also undergo specialized training regularly and often have a long list of clients. In contrast, newer artists tend to offer lower rates to establish their portfolio and expand their client base.
The design of the tattoo plays a significant role in determining its cost. For instance, simple black ink lettering or small symbols are quicker to execute compared to color tattoos or photorealistic portraits. Additionally, a unique custom-made artwork specifically designed for you will be pricier than a standard flash design.
Essentially, each tattoo’s cost factors in the artist’s hourly rate, the estimated duration of the work, material expenses, and the studio’s overhead costs.
Artist Hourly Rates
An artist’s experience directly influences their hourly rate. Apprentice tattooists who are just starting out generally charge around R200 to R400 per hour. Intermediate artists with a few years of experience charge between R400 to R800 per hour. High-end tattooists with over a decade of experience and a substantial waiting list for their services can charge R800 and above per hour.
It’s important to note that these rates apply to the actual tattooing process and not to consultations or the creation of the design draft, which some artists may price separately.
Tattoo Size Costs
In addition to the artist’s hourly rates, the overall size of the tattoo significantly impacts the final cost. Here’s a rough breakdown of average costs based on tattoo size in South Africa:
Tiny Tattoos: Designs around 1×1 inches can cost R300 to R600.
Small Tattoos: Approximately 2×2 inches can range from R600 to R1200.
Medium Tattoos: Around 5×5 inches can cost from R1200 to R2500.
Large Tattoos: Designs the size of an A4 piece of paper or larger generally start at R2500 and above.
In summary, the larger the tattoo, the more time required to complete it, thus affecting the overall cost. Full sleeves and back pieces are usually the most expensive and can amount to tens of thousands of Rand over multiple sessions.
Black Ink vs. Color Tattoos
Do you want your tattoo to be only in black ink or feature vibrant colors? Color tattoos are charged at a 50-100% higher rate per hour than plain black ink tattoos because of the artist’s need to acquire specialized colored inks. The application process for color tattoos is slower, requiring multiple passes and the addition of layers for each color hue. Additionally, creating color tattoos demands a higher level of skill to blend the colors seamlessly.
Similarly, applying solid black shading is quicker than intricate dot work or negative space designs, and this complexity also impacts the pricing.
The location of the tattoo on your body can also influence the cost in South Africa. Areas like the spine, ribs, and sternum are considered particularly painful for tattoos. Consequently, artists often charge a premium per hour to work on these extra-sensitive body parts.
On the other hand, relatively less challenging areas such as arms, legs, shoulders, and backs are subject to standard hourly rates. Delicate areas like hands, feet, fingers, ears, and faces generally require higher artist rates due to the intricate nature of tattooing. In particular, facial tattoos may cost up to three times the normal charges.
Additional Cost Factors
Various other variables can impact your final tattoo quote, including:
Accommodations: Traveling tattoo artists include accommodation fees for remote visits.
Deposits: Reputable studios often require non-refundable deposits of 20-40% to secure your appointment.
Touch Ups: Most artists offer free minor touch ups within 6 months if the tattoo fades or blurs.
Discounts: Some shops provide discounts on specific days with set designs or on special occasions like Friday the 13th.
Tipping: It’s standard practice to tip your tattoo artist up to 20% in South Africa.
Money Saving Tips
Here are some tips for getting a great new tattoo while staying within budget:
Opt for a simpler, smaller black ink tattoo without colored accents as it requires less time and skill. Choose universal symbols, letters, or numbers that can be quickly referenced from common design templates instead of elaborate drawings.
Select a newer intermediate apprentice artist to save on hourly rates rather than an experienced veteran artist. Their skills are still dependable despite the lower pay scale due to focused training programs for up-and-coming tattooists.
Choose a standard spot on your arms, legs, or back instead of painful rib or facial tattoos, which can increase the complexity rates. Additionally, having some padding can expedite the tattooing process compared to ultra-bony spine areas.
Schedule your appointment on an off-peak day, such as Tuesday at 4 pm, rather than on a Friday night or weekend. This can fast-track your consultation, save on crowded shop rates, and might even qualify you for discount incentives. Additionally, off-season periods around April/May and October/November can reduce shop overhead costs.
Research discount days at studios, such as Friday the 13th flash sales, or holiday events around Halloween and Valentine’s Day. However, do not compromise on quality for the sake of cost by choosing a generic design purely for its affordability, as it will remain on your skin permanently.
Finally, establish a budget beforehand to prevent falling in love with a Pinterest-inspired tattoo that significantly exceeds your planned spending. Be open to downsizing the design or initially getting an outline with shading added later. Having something is better than ending up with an unfinished masterpiece that depletes your bank account!
Top South African Tattoo Shops by City
To help you start your artist search, here is a quick reference guide to some of the top ranked tattoo studios in major cities across South Africa:
Cape Town Tattoo Shops
- Guns N Ink Tattoo Studio
- Legacy Tattoo Lounge
- Inkubation Tattoo Studio
- Brass Bell Tattoo Parlour
- City Guns Tattoo Cafe
Johannesburg Tattoo Shops
- Gold Iron Tattoo Club
- Body Architects Tattoo Studio
- Skin Deep Tattoo Studio
- MaxxxBlack Tattoo Studio
- Eastside Ink Tattoo
Durban Tattoo Shops
- Inkyourous Tattoo Studio
- Triple 6 Tattoo Studio
- Geometric Ink Tattoo Studio
- Durban Ink Tattoo Studio
- Iconic Tattoo Studio
Pretoria Tattoo Shops
- Blindside Tattoo Lounge
- Artistic Inc Tattoo Studio
- Iron Buzz Tattoo
- Sinners Inc Tattoo Studio
- Bloodlines Tattoo
Port Elizabeth Tattoo Shops
- Sacred Art Tattoo Studio
- Legacy Tattoo Studio
- Body Awakening Tattoo Studio
- Shipwreck Tattoo Studio
- Electric Underground Tattoo
Bloemfontein Tattoo Shops
Inksane Tattoo Studio Rise Above Tattoos Personal Truth Tattoo Studio Salvation Tattoo Parlour Black Ink Tattoo
Tattoo Shop Safety Tips
Always visit reputable studios that comply with health and safety regulations. Important indicators include:
Visible public health permit
Certificates for infectious disease control training
Use of new disposable needles for each client
Equipment sterilized after each use in an autoclave
Declining to work near moles or skin lesions
Stopping tattooing instead of working over clearly painful areas
A reliable tattoo shop should also present professional artist accreditation and have clients sign permission waivers before commencing any work. Adhering to these precautions is essential for your long-term health and safety.
The Bottom Line
Tattoos serve as profoundly personal forms of expression, balancing art and imagery. By now, you should comprehend the intricate pricing process, spanning hourly rates, design complexity, color accents, sizes, placement, and more. Considering all pricing elements is crucial for accurate budgeting and setting client expectations.
With numerous studios spanning cities nationwide, South Africa continues to attract talented artists to meet the growing customer demand. Just remember to heed all health precautions when making your selection.