The Truth About the Tattoo Industry’s “Unethical” Pricing

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Getting a tattoo isn’t cheap. But is the pricing so high that it can be considered unethical? A woman, who we’ll call Anna, got into a heated argument with Joe, her boyfriend of three-years. She started a thread in a popular online forum asking if she was wrong for calling Joe’s job unethical because he made a lot of money in the tattoo business. In the defense of tattoo artists, the job entails creativity, a level of skill, and a lot of good quality materials that need to be sterilized. Here’s how people reacted to the issue.

Should Tattoo Artists Make That Much Money?

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Anna and Joe sat down to discuss their budgets, debts, and overall financial situations one day when they told each other how much they make per year. Anna has a job related to economics and psychology, and she earns $75,000 per year.

He claims she spent four years earning her bachelor’s degree. Joe is a tattoo artist and manager of a tattoo shop and makes almost $110,000 yearly. Joe underwent a two-year apprenticeship before he became a certified tattoo artist.

Anna was shocked to discover that Joe had made that much money as a tattoo artist. She asked him if his shop was scamming its customers, to which Joe felt hurt and replied that he and the other artists there are paid their worth.

Anna claims the difference between her and Joe’s salaries doesn’t bother her. What makes her uneasy is that his tattoo parlor charges unethically high prices to their customers. So Anna asked the forum for their opinion on whether or not she was in the wrong.

It’s Simple Supply and Demand

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Commenters on the thread almost unanimously agree that Joe’s work is entirely ethical and falls under the simple economic principle of supply and demand. Joe is a very skilled tattoo artist, and customers seek him out for his specific talent.

Because there is so much demand for Joe’s services, he can charge as much as he wants. His customers decide whether or not they’re willing to pay his prices. He’s not forcing anyone to do anything.

Tattoo Artists Work Hard

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Tattoo artists deserve fair pay just as much as anyone else. Joe has specialized skills with a high market value. On top of that, he works incredibly hard to achieve his salary. “It takes years of training, practice, and hard work to become the kind of artist who can command a six-figure salary,” writes one heavily tattooed man.

Anna Is Clearly Jealous

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Although Anna claims she’s not jealous of Joe and only concerned about the ethics of his business practices, many commenters called her out on her bull. “This whole thing is bitter and jealous. Try being a supportive person that’s happy about their partner’s success for a change,” says one commenter.

What’s Unethical About Small Business Owners Selling Their Art?

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Respondents were puzzled because it makes no sense why Anna would think Joe’s career is unethical. There’s little room for exploitative labor practices when you’re self-employed and directly sell the art you create to your willing customers. It’s not like Joe lies about his prices or locks people inside the shop, tattoos them against their will, and forces them to pay.

Anna Is an Elitist

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Some users believe they know what’s really going on in this post: that Anna is jealous Joe makes more money than her when she has a bachelor’s degree, and he doesn’t. She got mad at Joe because, in her belief system, people with more advanced degrees make more money. This is a classist position that undervalues trade workers for no logical reason.

Hating on Artists Much?

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Anna’s elitism may also be connected to the prejudiced idea that artists aren’t valuable members of society. “You are belittling art as a profession. Tattoos are an important part of the culture, and your views are elitist and arrogant,” states one user.

Anna Should Be More Supportive

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Many respondents assert that instead of becoming angry and attacking Joe’s profession, Anna should have supported her partner’s incredible success. Not only is he a talented artist who makes his customers happy daily, but he also brings in enough money so both he and his girlfriend can live comfortably. So what is the problem here, Anna?

Everything That Goes Into a Great Tattoo

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Does Anna even know anything about her boyfriend’s career? Some commenters suggest she research what it takes to work as a tattoo artist every day. High-quality tattoos take hours to design and incredible talent to create a work of art on someone’s skin. Joe deserves to bring in as much money as any talented artist. “Would you call Andy Warhol unethical because his paintings sell for millions?” asks one individual.

Joe Deserves Better

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Everyone on the thread agrees that Joe deserves much better than Anna’s treatment. He works hard to please his customers and support his family. Instead of being proud of him, Anna is jealous and puts him down for his success by calling his business unethical for no logical reason. Many users believe it might be time for Joe to find a new girlfriend.

What do you think? Is Anna jealous, or is there more to her argument that everyone missed?

This thread inspired this post.

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