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I'm sure you're asking "WTF are you talking about and where is my super cool greeting that I expect from someone as kickass as kciR?"   Welp, I was trying to think of something clever to open this article with, and decided to cut the bullshit and just jump into it.  
What could it be?  What is it worth?  Why do cheese fries get soggy before I eat them?

It is quality body modification work.  It is worth your health, comfort, and the ability to take pride in something done right.  Cheese fries get soggy before you eat them because you are a sissy and don't eat fast enough.

In wasted materials alone it costs about 12$ for me to do a standard piercing, from a navel to an ear cartilidge piercing.  This includes all the PPE (gloves, face masks/shields, bibs), disposables (paper towells, toothpicks, q-tips), needles, the ink or jewelery itself, cleaning products (sani-wipes, madicide, vionex), and a host of other minute single-use products.   

Costs cut here hurt the client directly and immediately.  Using cheap or latex gloves can lead to instant reactions such as anaphylactic shock or weeping rashes from allergic reactions to the powders or chemicals contained in the gloves themselves.  Cheap paper towells can leave residue on or even in the skin in the form of tiny paper particles or dust.  If the jewelery or ink presented in the new modification is not high quality it can lead to rashes, migration, festering wounds, chronic illness associated with heavy metal poisoning, and a host of other problems which interfere with you healing quickly, if at all.   When it comes to piercing, the threading and metal composition are both factors that can quickly double to octuple (that's eight times, dumbass) the price.   Using low-quality needles for either tattooing or piercing becomes readily apparent the minute a hooked or barbed needle hits and snags in your skin.
Most studios take 40-60% of the artist's cut.  A lot of us buy our own supplies and still shell out the same ammount to the studio we work for.  This money isn't straight profit for them, either.  It goes to pay rent (roughly 4k$/mo here) electric (1.2k$/mo avg so far) advertising (400-1k$ for a small add, 6k$/mo for a billboard) misc non-procedure related supplies (mop heads, bleach, pine-sol, we have cookies and coffee for our clients, this list could get bigger than my ego), health dept. licensing (1.4k$/year for the studio alone), the occasional lunch for the starving piercer, etc.

Time spent at the studio is a HUGE factor for us artists.  Most of us spend more time at work than we do at home.  I've personally spent almost a continous week at the studio, asleep on the couch or on a table in the back, just to open the next day.   Piercers or tattoo artists that work at small studios typically work way more than 60 hours a week, since there aren't many people to relieve us.  I am scheduled for 56 hours a week and often stay late and come in on my day off.  99% of that time is spent doing something that we don't get paid for, as we don't get paid if we aren't with a client.  Add onto that the monetary and time cost of classes, lectures, researching new techniques and learning about improving sanitary procedures, medical and first aid courses, and we really are slaves to the studio.

I see myself getting overly long winded on this outpour, so I'll stop listing expenses and  bemoaning costs.  In short, there are MANY reasons why a studio would charge 40-60$ for a standard piercing and why we don't come out like bandits in the end.  Hell, if you break down my pay for the last year hourly, I make way under minimum wage.  I'll have been industry for 11 years at the end of may.  Why do I make so little?  Assclown discount studios and hood shops that could give two fucks less how their work looks or heals.  

Money-oriented shops throw everything I've mentioned in this article out of the window and go for the cheapest route.  They buy the least expensive jewelery they can find from chinese factories and improvise whatever they have to in order for it to work with what you want.  They have minimum training and don't care to learn more.  They can't answer questions about the materials used, they don't know how to properly clean or prevent cross contamination, and they don't fucking care.  They thrive off the price-shopping uninformed and vastly uncaring public.  Their concept of aftercare is either based off hearsay or quackery at best.  

If you value your health and actully want people to not criticize a jenky tattoo then shell out some cash for it.  If you want a piercing that you can enjoy or a tattoo that actually resembles the concept you had in mind then go talk to someone who can let their work represent them. 

 Check portfolios, NOT prices, and you may end up happier in the end.

I'm out.  I don't want to talk to you no more.

- kciR
kciR (aka Rick) has been warned, flagged heavily, and then finally banned from the forums for his natural tendency to be an asshole. Unfortunately, he also provides a great amount of helpful advice, so what do we do? We bring him aboard as our first columnist!

Copyright © 2023 Permission is granted to reprint this article in its entirety as long as credit is retained and usage is non-commercial. Requests to publish edited or shortened versions must be confirmed in writing. For bibliographical purposes this article was first published January 28, 2011 in New York City, US.

I hope someone sees the humor in this =)
Couldn't agree anymore. It is totally worth it.
Posted on January 28, 2011 (6:07pm)
Hell yes
Posted on January 28, 2011 (6:56pm)
"Check portfolios, NOT prices, and you may end up happier in the end."

Preach on preacher.
Posted on January 28, 2011 (8:24pm)
Amen brother, a very nice article :]
Posted on January 28, 2011 (8:26pm)
I cant tell you how many times I have tried to explain that to the bargin shoppers that come into my shop. Bargin shop for clothes not mods.
Posted on January 28, 2011 (8:30pm)
very well-written article, Rick! :)
Posted on January 28, 2011 (9:53pm)
Once again, a great piece. people forget all the "tiny" things that add up costs. Cheap is NOT the way to go!
Posted on January 28, 2011 (11:03pm)
Damn. I never thought of how much the little costs add up. Good article, sir.
Posted on January 29, 2011 (2:18am)
Yes, yes yes!!!!
Please continue writing this great articles!
Posted on January 29, 2011 (3:34am)
hurray for you Rick. Nicely played sir.
Posted on January 29, 2011 (4:11pm)
Totally agree Rick. I think the main problem is that (mainly, and heres me sounding very old!), live in a want and get today throw away society.
(Most) piercings are for life as are tattoos, so why would you want cheap if you have to live with it forever.
I went to Blackpool (in the UK), last year and along the seafront couldn't believe the amount of cowboys all offering any piercing for £5 - even doing tongues with a gun!!!
Trouble is they know its tourists who won't be around to complain.
Yeah piercings and tatts cost a lot, but in my opinion, you pay for the artistry and expertise of the piercer/tattooist and knowing you're in safe hands.
Posted on January 29, 2011 (8:04pm)
Fuck yes HAIL!!
Posted on January 30, 2011 (1:56am)
Fantastic post, as a studio owner, i have to point this out to people al the time. 'yes that guy charges less, but theres a reason why!'.

i for one NEVER ask for a price for work....i decide what i want, where i want to go for it, and then once booked, only then check the price, to be sure i have enough. simple as that, quality is more important than saving a few bucks!
Posted on January 30, 2011 (8:38am)
Posted on January 30, 2011 (1:33pm)
Well put! Nice article.
Posted on January 30, 2011 (1:35pm)
Cheap work isn't good and good work isn't cheap. U always have to check the pro-folio. I have never had a unsatisfied customer
Posted on January 30, 2011 (1:52pm)
Another good article.

I don't mind paying more for a well done piece of work, I normally ask about the price before I book but only to make sure I can afford it or how long it'll take me to save up for making the booking.

I tend to question things when they seem to cheap to be good quality in general but for something that is hopefully for life I really don't see any point in skimping for the sake of a few quid.
Posted on January 30, 2011 (3:59pm)
i couldnt agree more... thanks for the (educational) rant.
Posted on February 2, 2011 (12:27am)
Being from the medical field i couldnt agree more...goes back to the old saying you get what you pay for. thanks for the additional info on what you have to go through for your career tho
Posted on October 6, 2011 (5:43pm)
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