Artist Design Fee Explained


Part of your tattoo fee goes to cover drawing time.
Vitalii Touching Up Some Art

The Artist Design Fee, or ADF, is the money put down up front in order to book your tattoo. It’s held until your final session to make sure you, the client, finishes with their commitment to the artist to get the tattoo you commissioned the artist to create for you.

When you book a tattoo with Lucky Bamboo Tattoo, before payment can be accepted or a session is booked, it is required to have our ADF filled out beforehand. If you happen to be a walk-in, an ADF isn’t necessary because you are fulfilling your commitment in the present, and you will pay for your session afterwards. They are only required if there are future bookings, or you want to reserve a spot for the same day that you are calling.

Because we are a custom studio, nearly every single piece our artists come up with has been created by them. The artists spend their time outside the studio creating and drawing their tattoos, as they have no time while in the studio since they are usually tattooing. Depending on the size and complexity of the planned tattoo, these draw days can add up to many many hours. A Realistic full sleeve can take weeks to plan out and draw. The Artist Design Fee compensates the artist for their time in the event a client fails to fulfill their commitment to getting their tattoo. Otherwise, it is just a part of the cost of the tattoo.

Some may wonder why a full sleeve like that could take that amount of time to plan. You have to remember, the artist is thinking in three dimensions because the art has to wrap around a conical (an arm) space and has to line up how the tattoo is envisioned and planned. It’s not just a simple flat surface, it goes from larger and tapers down smaller to the wrist. It takes time, patience, and skill.

If you are only booked for a single session, your Artist Design Fee will be for the full amount to cover your entire appointment. Your only expense after that is if you and your artist choose to add onto your session or add more sessions, and if you choose to add a tip. If you add any more session, keep in mind that some or all of your ADF will be held to cover your final session in full.

If you are booked for multiple sessions, your Artist Design Fee will be the price of the amount of the first session. For example, if you book three 6 hour sessions with a 4 hour follow-up, your ADF will be for 6 hours. On your first two sessions, you’d pay for each of those sessions in full. The third session, however, you would use 2 hours of your ADF and pay for 4 hours, leaving 4 hours of the ADF to fully cover your final session.

An Artist Design Fee is non-refundable due to the reasons mentioned previously regarding an artists time. Nearly all of our artists sacrifice time with their families to draw up their art and they need to be compensated for that time.

This is a good part of the reason cheap tattoo shops are cheap. They just take a cookie-cutter image off the wall or a book, copy, trace and stencil. They spent absolutely no time planning or drawing your tattoo for you. It’s basic and boring to get the same tattoo a thousand other people already have. It’s worth the expense to have a professional artist create a unique piece of art just for you.

Read our article on why quality tattoos cost so much by clicking the button below!


If you’re ready to get your next tattoo done, schedule an appointment with an award-winning tattoo parlor. Here at Lucky Bamboo Tattoo, we have some of the best and most experienced tattoo artists in the Salt Lake City area. We can tattoo any style you’d like, and our artists can even design your next piece as well.

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