What Do Custom Murals and Tattoos Have in Common?

Strange question, you say? The two actually have more in common than you think.

Although usually quite different in form, large tattoos and custom wall murals both share these things in common:
• both are unique works of art, and can be done in many different styles, with one color or many
• both are transformative - completely changing the appearance, style, "vibe" of the person or room
• both are relatively permanent
• both are a considerable investment of time and money
• experienced, preferred artists in both crafts can charge about $100/hr
• both can be removed, although removing a mural (by simply painting over it) is usually a lot more painless than removing a tattoo
Although there are many similarities between tattoos and custom murals, the latter can be considerably less expensive when you consider square footage or even inches that the art covers. In the picture I've included in this blog, the tattoo covering someone's back, with this level of detail, can easily run at least $4000 for about 3.25 square feet - that's $1230/square foot!!!
Your custom mural will never cost that much… even with the level of detail shown in the black and white mural shown, with hands that need to be recognizable, the cost is usually between $20-100/square foot, depending on size, access, and other factors. The mural pictured is one of three painted at that site, and was approximately 200 square foot, was easy to access and had no obstructions. (see Restaurant Murals) The style was realistic, and included some design time - the pictures were put together between the architect and KMMGD. A mural like this runs about $20-25/square foot. It requires more skill and more time than many other murals, but it still far less expensive than a large tattoo.
When you have your custom mural quoted, I hope you’ll remember this comparison. :-)
Why It Pays to Hire an Experienced Mural Painter
There are many factors that can play a part of your custom mural price. One of those is the experience of the painter who will be designing and painting your mural. 
If an experienced mural painter is any good, short of them being very hungry, their rates are probably higher than the weekend warrior or Aunt so-and-so who does it on the side for fun. There are reasons for that. We have all heard the expression, "You get what you pay for". It is no different in mural work.
Mural painters are typically not just painters or hobbyists, they are artists. These artists come with different skill sets, talents and experience levels that can either help a job run more smoothly and satisfactorily or turn it into a disaster zone. I often get asked "how long did it take you to paint that mural?" "58 years". Yes, when you hire me, you are getting everything that I've learned from both my successes and my failures in those 58 years. From my experience as a painter, an entrepeneur, and in the school of life.
Recently, I saw the work of a very inexperienced mural painter on an exterior mural that included a lot of lettering. This particular artist had done very little, if any lettering before. Unfortunately for the customer, her lack of experience meant that the end product was very hard to read. The lettering was too thin, and in one section of the mural, the paint color was not a good contrast to the wall color it was painted on, which resulted in letters that cannot be seen from any distance at all. This was probably about a $2000 mural, that is now just so-so. 
When you pay in the thousands of dollars for mural work, you want something you, your teammates, your classmates, your fellow employees, your fellow church-goers, your children, or family members can be proud of. You want to feel good about the investment you've made into paying someone who is supposed to know what they are doing.
Creative Guidance:
An experienced mural painter can tell you in advance, in most cases, that a color or style choice you want, for instance, is not going to give you the result you want, and can recommend something that will. In the case of the lettering, the mural painter should have recognized early into the project that the lettering was too thin and hard to read, and made immediate adjustments. Also, depending on their background, the mural artist can guide you into ensuring that your mural project is a good fit for the environment it is creating or changing - that color choices, style, gloss levels, etc are all appropriate for the big picture.
Long Term Investment
An experienced mural painter can also steer you away from investing in a mural that will not be suitable for at least a couple of years, or can suggest a substrate that the mural can be painted onto, to allow portability. This will help ensure that the investment made will be able to be enjoyed for a long period of time.
Paint Choices:
Experience will also guide the mural painter in paint types to ensure the proper paint is chosen for the job. Using the wrong paint can mean that an expensive mural could peel, fade, or not give the desired result in the first place. 
Experience will also help to ensure the quality of the mural. Years of experience has taught my crew members and me many things about what is required for a quality job on many different kinds of surfaces. That allows us to make recommendations to maximize the investment of the client and the quality of the end result. If you have done something 50 times, isn't is reasonable to think you've probably learned a few more things than the person who has done that same thing only a couple of times, that might add to the quality, durability, and the long term value of that thing?
Does experience always mean that the artist is better? No. But if you see a portfolio of quality work, and you see a track record of this quality work, it's a good bet that the artist might be a little more expensive than a newer artist … and is probably worth it.