So you have finally decided to get a tattoo, and you have considered the regular checklist as well. A tattoo is one of the hardest ways of beautification. Also, it is a permanent modification of your body. Nothing like regular fashion accessories that you can take off when you are done with them. Because of this, you should be 100% sure before sitting on the chair, in front of a tattoo artist. And because of the same reason, you should consider your budget for the tattoo you want to have. So how much will your tattoo cost? What are the tattoo prices?
As it can turn out, for saving a few bucks you might need to spend double for getting the tattoo removed. The tattoo prices can vary depending on many things like location, experience, size, etc. Finally, there are a lot of decisions to make than you think before getting the art piece onto your body. Now, let’s take a dive into your pocket and see how it needs to function for your first or last tattoo.
Tattoo pricing varies depending on a lot of parameters. So if anyone simply thinks the smaller the tattoo the cheaper it is, might be wrong. The major factors controlling the cost are:
- Experience of the artist
- Design complexity
- Part of the body to be tattooed
- Location of the studio
- Materials used
- The waiting list for that artist
Obviously, size matters – Tattoo Prices
Depending on the size of your tattoo the cost will mainly fluctuate. For an average small tattoo, the cost is around $100 – $250. However the word small might be a confusing term here. Well, actually small tattoo here means anything between 2-4 inches. For the basic outline or tiny pieces, the cost can be the lowest at $50. There are some basic designs like a wedding band on the finger or a small heart the size of a dime. These designs fall under the tiny tattoo category.
Medium tattoos around 4-6 inches cost somewhere in between $150- $500. Finally, if you are looking for anything over that then you have settled for a large one for sure. In that case, you have to go deeper into your pocket for at least $500 up to whatever you can afford. Mostly $5000 can be a limit as only a few people go for tattoos that cost over that amount. Not to mention this is only one of the many factors. So, depending on other parameters the price limit can change.
The better tattoo machine costs more
You do not want the masterpiece you are getting wasted by an old rusty tattoo machine. Here are some of the best tattoo machines listed – best rotary tattoo machines, best coil tattoo machines. Check the list out and remember the best tattoo machine brand names. You’ll get the idea of it.
Lettering price- what you must know
Another basic type of tattoo is lettering. Now, this might be confusing. Some people look to pay based on the number of letters. But that’s the wrong approach. If you are doing a tattoo that is not a quote but simple words then you should always go for a flat rate or hourly rate. Moreover, having the font of your preference can be really helpful. In that case, you can show that and get the time estimation from your artist if he’s going for an hourly payment.
Experience has a price
You can easily guess that more experienced artists will charge more than someone who is new in the business. And another common thing is these experienced artists charge an hourly rate. As a result, if you are going for someone with a gorgeous profile, fantastic reviews, and a great portfolio, you should be ready to pay a big chunk. However, the average hourly rates bounce around $100. But more experience means the rate goes higher. Keeping the cost out of the discussion, you should look for artists who have expertise in this field. Otherwise, you might end up paying double for removing the amateur piece on your body. On the contrary, an experienced artist will ensure better quality and longevity.
Artists having experience of 3 years will charge around $100 per hour. Someone senior to that with 5-10 years of working knowledge will cost you around $150-$200 per hour. And if you go for a veteran-like experience of more than 10 years then the rate might be $200++. So choose your man wisely keeping the balance of both sides. Of course, their experience has a price!
Time is money
For any one time is money. The longer it takes the more it costs that you already know. But what you should know is getting a tattoo is a painful journey. In the case of large tattoos like full back or full sleeve tattoos, the time it might take depends mainly on you. Wondering how? Well, the more pain you can endure, the fewer sessions are required. On top of that while doing the outlines it gets to the highest pain level. So if you can go through that in fewer sessions then you save money. Finally, be mentally prepared and look for the shortest possible time.
Your body parts make the design more complex
Different part of the body has a different shape and different type of muscle. So it’s the body part that can make the process more complex. Also, tattoo size is closely related to the body part. So the cost differs depending on the site. Usually, different body parts have some common approaches for tattoos. You might find the list below helpful enough to get a clear idea of the cost.
Tattoo Prices on body parts
Half-sleeve tattoo cost
A half-sleeve tattoo that covers from your wrist to your elbow will cost you a minimum of $1000 and more. Obviously, the price will go further up if it is a colorful tattoo. These types of tattoos usually contain shading and solid filling in places.
You can check out this thread of Quora for half-sleeve tattoo costs.
Full sleeve tattoo
A full-sleeve tattoo is very popular and it covers from wrist to shoulder. This type of tattoo might take 2 days to complete. Not only the time but also you have to have a lot of commitment and endurance. Full-sleeved tattoos cost from $2000-$4000 for outlines in Black and White. However, filling it with color will cost about $6000-$7000.
Full back tattoo
A full-back tattoo is a great display of patience and endurance. On top of that, it will cut your pocket deeper. A full-back tattoo usually means it will cover from the end of the neck to the waist. This great piece of art usually takes 40-60 hours to complete. A full-back tattoo in the black and white outline will cost something like $2500-$5000. However, you know the common drill of color packing. If the tattoo is filled with color then it will stand somewhere around $7000-$8000.
Full body tattoo
If someone wants a full-body tattoo that means he is totally into this. The dedication needed for this is huge. However, a full-body tattoo costs more than anything that is not hard to guess. Without the extra charges and tip, it costs $100,000 with a few up or down. Obviously, depending on the color it can vary to some extent.
Forearm tattoos are different than half-sleeve tattoos where most people make a mistake. A forearm tattoo is much smaller than half sleeve tattoo and costs around $300- $800. Usually, it is done on only one side of the forearm or mostly like a band outline.
Chest tattoos can be done on both sides and one side. If it’s a half chest which means one side, then you can get it done well within $500 with color filling. On the other hand, if you want a full chest tattoo in colors and shading it will cost about $1000-$1300. A full chest tattoo can take up to 10 hours of work.
This is probably the most common part of getting a tattoo. Though it’s called a shoulder tattoo, it only covers the shoulder cap which is the round part of the upper arm. Since it is one of the popular parts of the body there is a lot of variation in shoulder tattoos. Nonetheless, you can get a standard color tattoo starting from $800 on your shoulder cap. It can shoot up to $2000 if your design is unique or customized with a lot of color and shading. Average shoulder tattoos cost around $1200.
Wrist tattoos usually contain 1 or 2 lines and symbols. These are small tattoos that cost a maximum of $300 starting from $50.
Ribs or side tattoo
Now, this is one of the most painful places for a tattoo. Ribs are very sensitive and also require a high level of expertise. The irregular shape and delicacy needed for rib tattoo make it one of the hardest to get. Moreover, not every artist would make such tattoos. So better choose your artists wisely in this case. On top of everything, a rib tattoo of about 8 inches in diameter would cost somewhere between $600-$800. However, extra color and detailing would make that price much higher as the time required gets higher.
Sternum tattoo which is also known as an under breast tattoo is done on women. It can cover the sternum to the ribs on both sides. ‘Under breast’ explains the area it covers and also the zone is very sensitive. With 6-8 hours of work, this tattoo price range is $500-$1000.
Finger tattoos are tiny symbols usually. It is better to choose simple designs as a change of texture of the skin can distort complex tattoos. Symbols on fingers can cost $50-$100 with black ink, as colors are not used in finger tattoos.
Hand tattoos are very painful as there isn’t a muscle layer on the hand. On top of that, you have the bones close enough. But hand tattoos don’t come too expensive as covering the upper part with black ink takes only $200-$300 which is about 2 hours of work.
The triceps are a very attractive spot for getting a tattoo. It is getting popular day by day. Moreover, these tattoos don’t cost as much compared to others. As you get a lot of shading options on triceps you can easily get a 6-inch black ink tattoo for just $400-$500.
Standard thigh tattoos are 1 foot in length and the price of this type of tattoo is around $500. However, if you want to cover the whole hip and part of your thigh that will be a great deal of work of about 8 hours. However, this large tattoo usually costs up to $2000 with shading and color filling.
If you want to have a standard-size tattoo on one side of your calf then it’s not so expensive. The cost for this type of tattoo starts from $350. On the other hand, if you are looking for a calf sleeve tattoo covering your whole calf from under the knee to the ankle the price will increase many folds. With outline and color filling calf sleeve tattoos cost around $2000.
Ankle tattoos are small lines or symbols. However, like wrists, 1 or 2 lines are also done on the ankles. These small pieces have a price that starts from $60 all the way up to $250.
Foot tattoos are basic with about 3 hours of work. It works kind of like a hand tattoo. With an average rate of $200-$400, foot tattoos can cost a maximum of $600.
Cosmetic Tattoos Cost
The eyeliner tattoo is one of the most popular cosmetic tattoos. This type of tattoo is done by professionals and note that they are not your regular go-to parlor artists. Moreover, cosmetic tattoos require different equipment. Professional grade eyeliner tattoo costs around $1500-$3000. Cosmetic tattoo is done with a different setup and they need proper care.
Now, this is some real work for cosmetic tattoos. The professional-grade eyebrow tattoo is done with fine needles to mimic natural hair. This is a very delicate process. However, this costs about $650-$750. But eyebrow tattoo needs maintenance annually and touch-ups.
Lip liner tattoo
Lip liner tattoos are done in a short time often. Being a sensitive zone of the body it can be painful. They normally cost $400. Not to mention filling lips are getting popular with some age groups. However, filling the lips with a tattoo has a price of around $600-$700.
Some people do the inner lip tattoo which is a very sensitive part. Mostly discouraged, artists charge $100-$200 for this. But inner lip tattoos fade easily and completely vanish within 5 years.
Areola tattoo or re-pigmentation is done with the price of about $200-$800. It is usually done by those who undergo breast reconstruction. Other than that some get through this for a better appearance of their nipples.
Although it is not practically piercing, still it is called a tattoo. Typically, it costs between $50 to $400. Visit this short post about nail tattoos if you want to know more about them.
The location of the studio plays a vital role
This is a common scenario for any business. Tattoo parlors in big cities will charge 3-5 times higher than in the countryside. If you are thinking about why there’s so much difference for the same tattoo then let’s have an insider. First of all, big cities have much higher rent for shops than rural areas. Then, you get the updated designs or trends available in these cities. On top of that, the living cost in cities is obviously much higher than in small towns. Finally, most of the high-end artists work in big cities. And that boosts the basic rate usually. Not only big cities, but even tourist spots will also charge much higher than other places.
Materials can make a difference
Materials include colors, equipment, safety guards, and everything in it. It’s not hard to guess the importance of these factors while making a tattoo. The rule of thumb goes for the colors which are, the more colors used more expensive the tattoo will be. Along with the quantity, the quality of the ink also matters. Here come the professionals in the account. They use top-notch ink brands as they have to maintain their quality. The same goes for tattoo machines as well. However, safety maintenance is another important part as you are getting the needles into your skin. Proper sterilization and disinfecting of the place are a must. Nonetheless, you can easily guess the environment and quality of maintenance by running into more than one shop.
The more people wait, the more you pay
Well, it’s not so hard to get. Popular artists can have a waiting list as everyone wants to get their piece done by him. This will obviously push the rate up. Surprisingly you can find two artists in the same parlor charging very unevenly. It can be their experience or their popularity which ultimately means a longer waiting list. And the longer the waiting list, the more you pay.
Common designs and costing
There are some common tattoos that never get out of fashion or timeless. These designs are not for any specific group of people rather people around the world make tattoos of them. A list of such designs and their average cost is listed for your idea.
Word or name:
A basic name or word tattoo has a price range from $80-$100. But if you want to fill it with color or a lot of detail then the price will increase.
This won’t get old no matter what year it is. Detailed portrait tattoo works for experienced and skilled artists. Not everyone can pull it off. Portrait tattoos are charged $200-$250 per hour.
Tribal tattoos are usually $50-$80 which are small in size like a finger. However, a palm-size tribal tattoo can cost $300 or more.
3D tattoos are not any normal type and only highly skilled artists can make them perfect. This type of tattoo costs $200 per hour.
Watercolor tattoos have a uniqueness of their own. The strokes and effects of watercolor make it hard to achieve. Usually, a 4-inch long tattoo will cost at least $400 and more.
Freckle tattoo has the lowest range cost. Natural freckle-like tattoos are done within one hour and cost $50-$100.
It is another basic tattoo costing only $50.
A lion tattoo on the shoulder or chest is very popular. It is a work of about 2 hours to get $400 out of your pocket. Other than that, if you want a larger lion on your back that will be costing you around $150-$200 per hour and taking 6-8 hours to complete.
In the lower price range, a cross tattoo will cost somewhere between $80-$150 without too much detail and color.
A small sentence in black ink only would be a very simple tattoo and you have to pay $100 or so.
Tattoo cover-up cost
When you want to get a tattoo covered and turn it into something new, it costs more than the original tattoo price. Not to mention cover-up requires extra effort in case of time, creativity, and ink. In most cases, cover-up needs a bulk amount of ink and skill along with a creative mind. Tattoo cover-up is not done by everyone and that’s another reason for its being pricy. However, a tattoo cover-up usually costs about $130-$150 per hour if the original tattoo costs $100 per hour.
Tattoo touch-up cost
Getting a tattoo is painful, but maintaining that is also laborious. Whatever it is, a black and white or color tattoo is going to fade after some period. Doesn’t matter how much sunscreen you apply tattoo touch-up is an essential part of maintenance. Usually, this is done for free in most of the parlors. But some might charge $30-$50 for the touch-up and refilling the ink into your tattoo or an hourly rate of half of the original tattoo rate.
Must know things before getting your tattoo
Most of the tattoo parlors will take a fixed deposit to hold your appointment. This initial payment is going to be deducted from the final amount you have to pay. For instance, the mid-range parlors charge $50 as the fixed deposit and high-end parlors can charge up to $150 which is the charge for one hour of work. Remember that, this fixed deposit is non-refundable, and in any case, you change the decision to get tattooed, it’s not going to come back.
This one is another very important charge. No matter what tattoo you are getting add at least 15-20% as a tip for the artist. This one is a must and doesn’t tell that you didn’t know. Because it’s a common practice all over the world. Finally, whatever your budget just add 15% on average with that.
If you are getting one of the tattoos from the parlor catalog then this is not for you. Because when you want to get a customized design for your own, it’s going to get deeper into your pocket. Nothing to be surprised of as the artist will have to sketch your design and then step-by-step modification will finalize the design. So, better consult the manager of the shop or the artist before finalizing your decision.
There are a number of people who are allergic to the ink and thus tattoos. For this reason, it’s better to consult your dermatologist before getting a tattoo. A test might find the exact answer you need. However, a skin rash or other complications might arise.
If you want to know more about tipping a tattoo artist, please check out this article – Should you tip your tattoo artist?
Tips for getting the best deal
Look for recommendations
Look around your family and friends. Talk to people who already have tattoos. A recommendation from a former client can lower the price in most cases. There might be a referral discount that you can avail.
Do some research
If you have no clue whom to look for, just search for the best tattoo parlors in your area. Walk into the shops and talk to the manager or any of the artists. Tell them what you want and ask for an approximate quotation. Look at their catalog and reviews. Then take a tour to another shop and repeat the process. It is like shopping. Either you have a brand of choice that you know you are going to buy, otherwise you have to go and look for the best-suited one for you.
Find an artist who is looking for experience
There are artists who are looking for experience and offering discounts. Look for artists of this type and look into their reviews. Have a look at their catalog and the type of work that you want. For instance, if he has done portraits mostly and you want a portrait also, then you have a discount out of expectation.
Decide your design
You should have a clear idea of what you want. This part can take a lot of time if you don’t have any idea. That consultation period might get the price higher for some shops.
Try to get a flat rate
Rather than an hourly rate, try to get a flat rate. Because in that way you have much more independence. However, if you settle for an hourly rate, the artist may work slowly on purpose to charge more. Also, a detailed or delicate design will take more time than normal. Getting a flat rate here will save a major part of the bill.
Get everything done at once
If you plan to get more than one tattoo then you should do them at once. Getting a bulk quantity will cost you less than individual ones. Though pain in this case is an important factor. Don’t be harsh on yourself to save some bucks. Usually, artists charge less for a bulk amount of work. Who knows you might get some tiny pieces free. You can also take one of your friends or family members who wants a tattoo. That might get you a group discount.
Negotiation is important
Negotiate with your artist. Of course, don’t ask for a price that’s too low. But whatever the work is, a simple outline or half-sleeve tattoos, you have the chance to negotiate and save your precious bucks.
Finally, you will get what you pay for. Don’t compromise the quality over some bucks. It’s better to pay for a professional rather than wasting a small amount of money on amateurs. You’ll need to count aftercare products in your budget since you are going to need them. Here is a guideline about tattoo aftercare products. Check this out!