On Pricing

When our fearless leader got his first tattoo in 1995 he paid $100 per hour for the privilege. He got a sun on his shoulder that took about two hours and it cost $180. When he was first told how much it would cost it came as a shock, he was only seventeen, still in high school, and only able to work part time. Seemed pretty expensive to trade a week’s worth of sacking groceries for a couple hours of pain.

But when you think about it, it wasn’t very much at all.

Consider the fact that tattooers don’t get the luxury of messing up. Money back guarantees are no consolation when the results are permanent. The precision needed to be a good tattooer takes time to develop, that training costs money and time and a degree of effort that many people can’t comprehend. Then there’s the business side of things. Rent; electricity; water; air conditioning; the best supplies to do the best job; providing chemicals and cleaning materials to support the necessary sterile environment to insure everyone’s safety, all those things cost money. All this without even considering the living expenses of the individual artists that need to be met in order for them to continue making art for a living instead of doing something else (if you can’t feed your kids or yourself doing a job, you’re not going to keep that job for long, no matter how much you love it). Then, and only then, do you factor in any sort of profit or funds for growth.

When you consider all of those factors, a hundred bucks an hour doesn’t sound like much. It wasn’t too much in 1995 and it certainly isn’t too much now. That being said, the artists at Cardinal Tattoo are so dedicated to their community and craft that they tend to charge less than the industry standard- of twenty years ago.

$300 for a 5-hour session=$60 per hour.

$500 for a 10-hour session=$50 per hour (that’s half-price if you’re keeping track folks!)

Even our best artist, the award-winning, nationally recognized Will, only charges $600 for a 6-8 hour window, that’s between $75 and $100 per hour- $50 to $75 per hour less that the industry standards of today!

And people wonder why we’re in high demand.

The truth is that we’ve made a lot of our fellow artists angry because they feel we don’t charge enough. They want to make the most money possible and what we’re doing makes it harder for them to charge exorbitant fees. Many of them have adopted the same entitlement mentality that seems so pervasive these days. Not us. We are willing to work hard to produce the best tattoos we can for a fair price. That is more than a promise, it is our solemn oath as it had been handed down by our founder, Will. The people who don’t understand why we do this are the same people who don’t understand why we won’t just tattoo anything on anyone. They don’t get it and it’s likely they never will, so we’re not going to waste our breath trying to explain ourselves.

Here’s what you need to know: Cardinal Tattoo will always do the best we can to provide our clients with great tattoo art for a fair price. It’s a shop motto and the way we conduct our business. It’s the way we care for our clients and our community. It’s how we provide for our families, and we take it very seriously.

If you want the best bang for your buck; straight-forward customer service with no guesswork or hidden costs; and a finished product that will compare favorably with some of the best tattoo artists in the world, you want Cardinal Tattoo as your new tattoo shop.

Nashville Tattoo Convention Results!

Well, it’s that time again: The Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival has come and gone, the dust has settled, and it’s time to take stock of the great weekend we just had. In addition to making some great new friends and catching up with old ones, Cardinal Tattoo scored our usual litany of tattoo awards. This time, however, things were a bit different. This year, Will won an award for Best Horror Tattoo with a portrait of Frankenstein’s Monster he did ON HIMSELF!!! Karen also won her first-ever tattoo awards, four of them (!), including a Tattoo of the Day (which is kind of a big deal).

We would like to take this time to thank some of the people who made this possible, if we miss anyone please forgive us:

Maggie Kate; Wayne; Jordan; Curtis; Dakota; Daniel; Cristel; Mikey; Jay, Jeremiah, and Buzzy; miss Angeline; Crystal; and the great crews at Cardinal and Lighthouse Tattoo!

Here’s a list of the first places won at the show:

Best Chest Piece

Large Black and Grey

Tattoo of the Day (Color)

Best Color Portrait

Best Medium Black and Grey

Best Horror Tattoo

Best Sleeve

Best Black and Grey Portrait

We also won several second and third place trophies. All of this is pretty extraordinary considering Will asked his clients not to enter any pieces that had already been entered, as well as refusing to enter a tattoo in the tattoo of the day category. He quite literally won first place in every category he entered!

Will's Schedule

The wait for our realism artist, Will, is about two months for weekdays and four months for weekends. Given several breakthroughs in his artwork and upcoming events planned, we do not expect this wait time to diminish. In fact, due to scheduled travel involving guest spots and conventions, we expect that the wait will be closer to three months for weekdays by the end of September. It is for this reason that we highly recommend that anyone who would like to get tattooed by Will set an appointment sooner than later, to avoid protracted wait times. We appreciate your patience in this matter.

Will does a single tattoo per day, charging a flat rate of $600. While he can and does tattoo every style, he gives priority to realism- both black and grey and color. Previous clients and potential clients seeking large, multi-session pieces, such as sleeves or backpieces will be given precedence. He takes a $100, non-refundable deposit that is deducted from the cost of the tattoo in order to set an appointment. Will is currently working seven days per week in order to prevent him from booking out more than three months, but at the current rate and given his upcoming travel schedule, we expect him to be booking for January by the end of September. After that we start booking for the upcoming tax refund season, during which Will is still going to be travelling so you can imagine the kind of delay procrastinators will face.

Two years ago Will was booking out 5 months in advance. He increased his prices to curb demand and increased his workload to 7 days per week, only taking days off when the inevitable last minute cancellation occurs from time to time or for family obligations. He elected not to take a vacation this year and cut his convention schedule, freeing up a total of about 40 appointments.

We share this with you for the sake of full disclosure, as many times people will visit Cardinal Tattoo in order to get tattooed by Will, only to find out they have to wait weeks, if not months to get an appointment. Will has also made some impressive progress over the last few months, working intensely to improve his skill set, the results of which we will be sharing with you here immediately following the Full Moon Tattoo and Horror Festival this Oct. 19th-21st in Nashville! Stay Tuned to Cardinaltattoo.com for more!