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Top 10 Most Expensive Tattoo Artists of All Time

Top 10 Most Expensive Tattoo Artists of All Time

Tattoos were once exclusive to sailors, aboriginal peoples, and military personnel. Nowadays, they’re a common way of decorating your skin and expressing your desires, loves, and preferences. But while the average tattoo artist charges between $75 and $250 per hour, some charge much higher per-hour prices!

The most expensive tattoo artist of all time is Joaquin Ganga of Ganga Tattoo in West Hollywood, California. This artist charges $100,000 per day, which equates to $12,500 per hour. The artist limits himself to working in 8-hour sessions and no more than one 8-hour session per day.

If you’re thinking of getting a high-quality tattoo and have plenty of money to invest, you might want to hire one of the following tattoo artists. After all, there’s a reason why these artists charge high premiums for their ink!

Here Are the Top 10 Most Expensive Tattoo Artists of All Time:

  1. Joaquin Ganga – Up to $12,500 Per Hour
  2. Don Ed Hardy (Retired) – Up to $2,500 Per Hour
  3. Scott Campbell – Up to $2,000 Per Hour
  4. Keith Scott McCurdy (Bang Bang) – Up to $700 Per Hour
  5. Ami James – Up to $500 Per Hour
  6. Anil Gupta – Up to $450 Per Hour
  7. Stephanie Tamez – Up to $400 Per Hour
  8. Paul Booth – Up to $310 Per Hour
  9. Jonathan Valena (JonBoy) – Minimum $300 Per Hour
  10. Kat Von D – Up to $210 Per Hour

10. Kat Von D – Up to $210 Per Hour

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Like the world’s most expensive clothing brands, several of the highest-paid tattoo artists are internationally celebrated for their high-quality work. And thanks to television shows like Miami Ink and LA Ink, Kat Von D is one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved tattoo artists.

Kat Von D (full name Katherine von Drachenberg) started training to become a tattoo artist when she was only 16. As such, she has more than two decades of experience under her belt.

In 2008, she set a Guinness World Record for tattooing the most people in a 24-hour period. While this record was broken in less than a year, all proceeds from the record-setting tattoo work went to charity, boosting Kat Von D’s reputation as a tattoo artist with a heart of gold.

After more than a decade working at High Voltage in Los Angeles (and charging about $210 per hour for tattoos), Kat Von D decided to make a significant change in her life. She closed her tattoo parlor and moved to the tiny town of Vevay, Indiana.

Why Is This Tattoo Artist So Expensive?

There are two reasons why Kat Von D’s tattoos were so expensive. Firstly, there was her experience.

Tattoo artists can charge big bucks based on their level of experience. Because Kat Von D’s tattoo artistry career started in her teens, she was one of the most experienced artists on the West Coast.

But fame also played a part in her pricing. Millions of people watched her work thanks to Miami Ink and LA Ink, driving up demand for her tattoos. As such, she had to adjust her pricing to account for the higher demand. After all, there are only so many hours in a day, and with such a huge burst in popularity, higher prices meant she could take on only the most serious and dedicated clients.

9. Jonathan Valena (JonBoy) – Minimum $300 Per Hour

photo source: Moxy Times Square

If you’re a tattoo artist, one of the best ways to earn big bucks is to score a session with a celebrity. That’s certainly what helped Jonathan Valena, better known as JonBoy, become one of the highest-paid tattoo artists of all time.

In 2015, JonBoy inked Kendall Jenner, placing a single white dot on the tip of her middle finger. After that, his popularity soared, making him one of the most in-demand tattoo artists in New York City, if not the world.

Charging a minimum of $300 per hour, JonBoy specializes in small tattoos that measure barely a few inches (if that). One of his clients paid $450 for a single 20-minute session!

Still, that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to some of the prices JonBoy has charged for his work. But where is this money going?

According to a lawsuit levied against the artist in 2021, not rent. In fact, Valena was allegedly more than $100,000 behind in rent payments when the lawsuit was published. One can only hope his high service prices will help him settle the suit.

Why Is This Tattoo Artist So Expensive?

JonBoy’s tattoos are incredibly costly due to his fame and skill.

Inspired by other legendary tattoo artists like Dr. Woo, JonBoy’s minimalistic style sets him apart from other artists. And the fact that he inked one of the most influential celebrities in the world, Kendall Jenner, makes him an in-demand artist.

It typically takes months to schedule an appointment with JonBoy, though he occasionally offers open shop days at Bar Moxy in NYC that are first-come, first-serve.

8. Paul Booth – Up to $310 Per Hour

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Although high-priced tattoos are typically associated with artists living in Los Angeles or Miami, several of the wealthiest tattoo artists are actually based in New York City.

These gifted artists can often charge higher-than-average prices for their work thanks to their reputations, years of experience, and pure talent. Paul Booth is one such tattoo genius in the Big Apple.

With multiple decades of experience under his belt, there’s almost nothing Booth can’t do. He’s even the first tattoo artist inducted into the prestigious National Arts Club!

But his per-hour prices reflect his many achievements and accolades. You can expect to spend up to $310 per hour to get a Paul Booth tat. That doesn’t include the mandatory $500 deposit.

Why Is This Tattoo Artist So Expensive?

Paul Booth is a master of shading, one of the most complicated and challenging aspects of producing high-quality black-and-white tattoos. His skill and talent make him an in-demand tattoo artist, not only for those in New York City but all around the world.

But Booth also produces a wide range of art, so his time is extremely limited. Consequently, his prices are higher than average because of the limited supply (aka his time to complete tattoos) and high demand for his work.

7. Stephanie Tamez – Up to $400 Per Hour

photo source: Brooklyn Magazine

Some tattoo artists offer tattoos to walk-in clients, while others utilize appointment systems. But Stephanie Tamez is an artist whose tattoos are so exclusive that they’re only available at a private New York City studio, This Time Tmrw.

These highly decorative tattoos range from full sleeves to full-back pieces, all of which tend to feature intricate designs with precise lines. The fortunate few who manage to schedule an appointment with Tamez can expect to spend up to $400 per hour for her work, which is a small price to pay considering her skill.

Why Is This Tattoo Artist So Expensive?

Tamez’s tattoos are expensive due to her talent. The average tattoo artist’s work pales in comparison to Tamez’s detailed inkings, making her a highly sought-after artist for those keen to enjoy the highest-quality tattoos.

6. Anil Gupta – Up to $450 Per Hour

photo source: Inkline Studio NYC

Many things in the Big Apple cost more than they would in a rural town or small city, including tattoos. But if you’re looking for one of the best bits of ink for your hard-earned money, you’ll want to visit Inkline Studio NYC.

This tattoo parlor has several gifted artists, including tattoo legend Anil Gupta.

Gupta began his tattoo career while tattoos were still illegal in New York City (between 1961 and 1997). He quickly became a hero of the underground tattoo industry thanks to his impressive skill and thought-provoking designs.

Getting a Gupta tattoo is a huge honor and the artist charges for this distinction. A consultation with Gupta costs a whopping $200, and clients typically pay $450 per hour for his work.

Why Is This Tattoo Artist So Expensive?

Anyone who knows even a little about the NYC tattoo scene has heard of Anil Gupta. This artist’s reputation and skill have helped make him one of the most iconic and in-demand tattoo artists, hence the high prices.

5. Ami James – Up to $500 Per Hour

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a fan of Kat Von D, there’s an excellent chance you’ve heard of Ami James. After all, James is one of the owners of Love Hate Miami, the tattoo parlor used to create the hit show Miami Ink.

This show not only helped make Kat Von D a world-famous tattoo artist. It also propelled Ami James into the spotlight, generating an insane amount of demand. As you might expect, this demand translated into higher per-hour prices, with James charging up to $500 for his work.

If you’re getting a small tattoo from Ami James that takes about an hour, you’ll already have spent more than some people have on the most expensive concert tickets! Of course, a concert is only a temporary experience, whereas an Ami James tattoo could last a lifetime.

Why Is This Tattoo Artist So Expensive?

Ami James has a diverse portfolio that ranges from simply black-and-white stylized images to complex abstract full-back pieces. His skill set is unbelievably varied, making him a natural choice for most clients.

Of course, his skills aren’t the only reason he’s an in-demand tattoo artist. His time spent on Miami Ink also helped increase his popularity, ensuring that prices for his work will always be well above average.

4. Keith Scott McCurdy (Bang Bang) – Up to $700 Per Hour

photo source: Bang Bang

Keith Scott McCurdy, better known as Bang Bang, has worked with some of the most famous people of the last century to create unique and beautiful tattoos. Some of his clients include Justin Bieber and Rhianna, but that’s just a small sample of the celebrity clientele he serves.

Because Bang Bang primarily works with high-end celebrities, he charges far more than the average tattoo artist. We’re talking up to $700 per hour for some ink, regardless of the tattoo’s size or complexity.

You can score a top-tier Bang Bang tattoo by visiting either of the two Bang Bang NYC locations and requesting McCurdy himself.

Why Is This Tattoo Artist So Expensive?

Undoubtedly, the primary reason Bang Bang’s tattoos are so costly is that he’s one of the most sought-after celebrity tattoo artists. His high-paying clientele allows him to charge big bucks for his work. Of course, his talent also plays a part in pricing.

3. Scott Campbell – Up to $2,000 Per Hour

photo source: Independent

Some tattoo artists primarily work with skin, while others are talented artists that display their work across multiple types of media. Scott Campbell is one of the latter.

Campbell initially studied biochemistry at the University of Texas, though his love of illustration and art caused him to change his career path. He’s created unique tattoos and art installations, many of which feature hyper-realistic depictions of surreal or macabre scenes.

Overall, Campbell is one of the most well-rounded tattoo artists on the planet. But he’s also one of the most expensive.

The first hour with Campbell will cost you $2,000, with each additional hour costing $200. So, unless you’ve got thousands to spend on a one-of-a-kind tattoo, it’s probably best to opt for a different artist.

For a little perspective, you could afford to invest in a pair of some of the most expensive sunglasses for the price of one hour under Campbell’s needle!

Why Is This Tattoo Artist So Expensive?

Reputation can make or break a creative person’s career. When it comes to Scott Campbell, his stellar reputation has helped make him quite successful and highly profitable.

Of course, that reputation doesn’t come from nowhere.

Campbell’s distinct style and incredible skill have helped him become the in-demand tattoo artist he is today. And it’s because of this demand that Campbell charges such high prices for his time and work.

2. Don Ed Hardy (Retired) – Up to $2,500 Per Hour

photo source: Joseph Swide

If you’re in your late 20s or older, it’s almost impossible not to know about Don Ed Hardy.

Of course, you might be more familiar with the Ed Hardy fashion brand than Don Ed Hardy himself, especially considering the tattoo artist retired in 2006. Still, the classic tattoo style and images associated with Hardy persist, making him an in-demand artist that only occasionally performs tattoo work.

Before his retirement, Hardy was charging $1,500 per hour. Since his retirement, he’s been rumored to charge up to $2,500 per hour.

Those fortunate enough to convince the artist to ink their skin are also likely bound to privacy agreements, as Hardy prefers to spend his time working on art and enjoying his family. So tattoo sessions are now few and far between, with minimal showcasing.

Why Is This Tattoo Artist So Expensive?

Don Ed Hardy is considered one of the most significant figures in the tattoo subculture, helping bring it out of subculture status and into the mainstream. But his designs also became iconic in the 2000s, as the Ed Hardy clothing line took the public by storm, becoming incredibly popular.

This popularity allowed Hardy to charge jaw-dropping prices for his unique tattoos, making them some of the costliest of the early 21st century.

Still, younger artists are changing the tattoo industry in some unique ways. And some, like Joaquin Ganga, are putting Hardy’s high per-hour prices to shame.

1. Joaquin Ganga – Up to $12,500 Per Hour

photo source: Ganga Tattoo

The most expensive tattoo artist of all time is Joaquin Ganga. This artist charges $100,000 per day, which equates to $12,500 per hour, as the artist limits himself to working in 8-hour sessions and no more than one 8-hour session per day.

Many of Ganga’s tattoos cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example, this Spanish tattoo artist charged $200,000 to create work on rapper Lil Durk’s thighs in 2022. The complete work lasted 16 hours (two 8-hour sessions). But this tattoo likely isn’t the priciest ever completed by Ganga.

Still, if you’re looking to sport the highest-quality ink, you might want to set up an appointment at Ganga Tattoo in West Hollywood, California.

Why Is This Tattoo Artist So Expensive?

Popularity, skill level, and innovative tattooing techniques make Ganga one of the most sought-after tattoo artists in the world.

Several popular rap artists and celebrities, including Lil Uzi Vert, Post Malone, and Lebron James, have hired Ganga for extensive tattoo work. Consequently, he’s an in-demand artist who can afford to charge exceptionally high prices for his services.

Ganga is also highly skilled. He specializes in creating highly detailed masterpieces that look more like photographs than stylized images. These works of art also make Ganga tattoos a costly commodity.

Finally, there are Ganga’s tattoo techniques.

This artist is one of the few who utilizes anesthesia (No Pain by Ganga) when creating full-body or large tattoos on clients. Although having an anesthesiologist on hand increases the price-per-tattoo, it also ensures that clients are comfortable through each multi-hour session.

What’s the Most Expensive Tattoo?

It’s challenging to determine which ink tattoo is the most expensive, as many celebrities who invest in high-priced full-body tattoos keep the final cost pretty hush-hush.

That said, many people consider Yair Shimansky’s “diamond tattoo” the world’s most expensive tattoo, even despite its lack of ink and temporary nature.

Created in 2013, this “tattoo” was essentially decorative bodywork featuring dozens of glued-on diamonds. The final value of this tattoo was a staggering $924,000.

Still, if you want to learn more about the priciest ink-based tattoos, you might want to explore Joaquin Ganga’s work. This tattoo artist has performed multi-day tattoos, some of which have prices that stretch well into the six-figure ballpark.

What’s the Most Expensive Tattoo Artist of All Time?

Joaquin Ganga is the most expensive tattoo artist of all time, thanks to his in-depth full-body tattoo work. Those fortunate (and wealthy) enough to get a Ganga tattoo are typically anesthetized to make the long sessions more bearable and comfortable.

Ganga may be responsible for creating the priciest ink tattoos. But his work is often overshadowed (in terms of expense) by the Shimansky diamond tattoo. This tattoo cost just shy of $1 million and is considered the most expensive tattoo of all time.

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