It used to be that tattoos were the domain of rock stars and those serving time in prison. Not anymore, as tattoos are slowly but surely becoming more acceptable in the mainstream. Even celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba and Charlize Theron sport a tattoo or two.
These tattoo artists can liken their work to that of a painter, with the only difference being that they use the human body as a canvas. On average, they can earn around $100 per hour of service. For the really good and popular ones, that number may increase several times over. Some can charge a higher rate owing to their skill and the demand for their services. Others may ask for a huge fee because of their popularity brought about by their exposure in television shows. Indeed, tattoo shops have been the subject of several reality shows and it has boosted the stock of its artists so much so that they have emerged on top of this list.
So which ones charge the most? Who can claim to be on the top 10 richest tattoo artists in the world? We list them down based on their rate per hour.
10 Mike Rubendall - $125 per hour
Mike Rubendall used to work for Adorned but now has his own tattoo shop. He has been featured in the TLC series “Tattoo Wars.” Rubendall favors tattoos inspired by the Eastern culture, mostly Japanese in origin. That is why you will see him do a lot of koi fishes and cherry blossoms. He also does horror and neo-traditional tattoos, mixing Eastern art with demons and ghouls. His schedule is packed, however, so be prepared to book up to one year in advance.
9 Bob Tyrrell - $150 per hour
Bob Tyrrell is known for his realistic works of art. His tattoos are so life-like that it looks like an animate object. He started tattooing when he was already 34, but he sure made up quickly for lost time as he has made a name for himself in the business. Tyrrell specializes in realistic black and gray portraits.
8 Dave Tedder - $150 per hour
Dave Tedder started out as a piercer in South Carolina, a state that considers the art of tattooing as illegal. He then moved to Florida to learn more about the art. He eventually settled in Bulldog Tattoo where Holden Ritchison mentored him. The two then left Bulldog to join Babylon Tattoo. It was there that Tedder learned from artists like Novi Filopovich and John Coiro.
7 Brandon Bond - $200 per hour
Brandon Bond is one of the most successful and most published tattoo artists in the world. He is based in Atlanta where he has a couple of shops, namely All or Nothing Tattoo and Anti Art Elite. He also owns Stranglehold, a company that sells any tattoo-related products, from movies and books to clothes and arts. Bond is a fast worker and requires a two-hour minimum charge, meaning he will charge at least $400 per session.
6 Stephanie Tamez - $200 per hour
Stephanie Tamez had her training in graphic design work before she shifted her focus to tattooing. She works in the famed New York shop called Adorned. She specializes in typography, as tattoos of lettering and fonts allows a Spartan, yet elegant, design. She also likes to mix up fonts and see what would work. Tamez always discuss with her clients if the tattoos would look good after a certain period of time. As it is something permanent, she discourages clients with unrealistic goals.
5 Kat von D - $200 + per hour
Kat von D appeared with Ami James in “Miami Ink” for four seasons. The two had a falling out and she opened up High Voltage Tattoo in Los Angeles. The shop became the subject of the show called “LA Ink.” She is reported to be worth $5 million. The minimum charge at Kat's studio is $200 an hour but the price depends on several factors - like the level of detail in the tattoo, and its size.
4 Paul Booth - $300 per hour
If you are in a heavy metal, industrial, progressive or gothic rock and roll band, then Paul Booth is the man for your tattoos. He specializes in those things that rockers love. His favorites are realistic horror and gothic tattoos done in grayscale. Band members from the likes of Sepultura, Pantera and Slipknot are clients of Booth. His works of art are done freehand in a black ink wash. He is known for the meticulous details in his demon-laden pieces. He has appeared in CNN, CNBC, Discovery Network and TLC. He does have his limits though, as he does not do tattoos on faces. Book two years in advance, however, as Booth is a marquee name in the industry and is in heavy demand.
3 Anil Gupta - $450 per hour
Anil Gupta is renowned for his realistic portraits and accurate rendition of artwork. He once copied a cover of the 1974 album by the Grateful Dead entitled “Skeletons from the Closet.” The tattoo was so exact and faithful to the original that it looked photocopied. Gupta can also do elaborate Celtic knotwork with intricate patterns and designs. He is also known for his tribal inspired tattoos and abstract pieces. He also has the ability to tattoo paintings made by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Salvador Dali. Some of his clients include the likes of celebrities like John McEnroe, Christian Slater and Rosie O’ Donnell. Interested clients should book a session with him six months in advance.
2 Ami James - $500 per hour
Ami James is the man behind the TLC shows “Miami Ink” and “NY Ink.” He also owns a shop in London called the Love Hate Social Club. He got his first tattoo when he was just 15. He apprenticed in a shop called Tattoos by Lou. He eventually opened his own shop called the Love Hate Tattoos in Miami. James also owns a clothing company called DeVille. He is reported to have a net worth of $5.1 million.
1 Scott Campbell - $1,000 for first hour/$200 every succeeding
His clients include Marc Jacobs, Josh Hartnett and the late Heath Ledger. He specializes in typography and antique ornamentation. He can do classic designs like anchors and sailing ships. The only problem is that he can only do it during weekends as he is busy with his other ventures as an advertising designer.