How Much Do Tattoos Cost?

Are you thinking of getting a tattoo? Before you make a decision, it is important that you know how much do tattoos cost first. This will help you prepare your finances as well as help avoid last minute surprises.

Typical Tattoo Cost

Tattoos are basically not cheap unless you go for the temporary options. Especially if you want bigger ones, the cost can rise up to thousands of dollars. The typical cost of tattoos starts from $50 to $100 per hour for the tattoo artist’s hourly rate. Meaning, the longer your tattoo is worked on by the artist, the higher the cost will become. If you rather want a custom tattoo, the average tattoo prices per hour can start from $50 to $300.

At some tattoo studios, tattoo pricing is not done by the hour. Instead, customers pay per project. However, with this kind of pricing, the lowest rate you can get a tattoo for is $40 to $50 for even the smallest tattoo such as a small dot. This is the minimum rate in most tattoo studios anywhere you go. So the question of how much does a small tattoo cost can be answered by the minimum charges of a tattoo shop, which starts from $40. However, more often than not, even the most prominent tattoo artist in a top tattoo studio cannot quote you an exact price until you choose the design you want to ink on your body. Hence, the best way to know the exact price of your tattoo is to pick a design and location on your body for the tattoo, show it to an artist, and ask for the price quote.

Factors Affecting Pricing

Tattoo costs usually vary due to several factors. Here are the most common factors that directly affect tattoo prices:

  • Color. Tattoo designs with more colors will definitely cost more than those in just one or two colors. This is true not because colored ink is more expensive but because colored tattoos require more detail, which means the work can last longer.
  • Size. Average tattoo prices are determined usually by price. The bigger the tattoo, the higher the price will become. This is true because the bigger the tattoo, the more work there is to do for the artist. You can get an idea on how much does a tattoo cost by checking on the size of the design. However, tattoo prices by size is usually not the only determinant of the actual price of getting a tattoo as there are a lot of other factors than can affect the cost of tattoo designs.
  • Placement. The place where you want to be inked will more often than not determine the price of tattoos. The more sensitive the area is, the higher the price can become. Least sensitive areas include the calves, shoulder blades, outer thighs, buttocks, upper arms, and forearms. Sensitive areas, on the other hand, are the lower back, neck, underarm, ankles, head, and groin area. The most sensitive areas and probably will cost higher include the genitals, ribs, sternum, feet, and hands.
  • Design. Simple tattoo designs come cheap, usually $50 to $100. This is true because the overall work time of a simple tattoo design can only be an hour or less. On the other hand, complex tattoo designs can cost a lot higher. Besides this, choosing an original tattoo can add up to the cost. This is often acknowledged because the artist will require more time drawing a customized tattoo as compared to just copying and tweaking a design from a flash design that they already have.
  • Location. The geographical area where the tattoo shop is located also determines the prices of tattoos. Tattoo studios in big cities usually charge higher than those tattoo shops located in small cities and towns. The price can even go higher when the tattoo studio is located in a vacation spot. A good comparison to consider is a tattoo that is priced $150 in Arkansas can become as high as $300 in California.
  • Artist. Professional tattoo artists usually charge more per hour or per work. This is in exchange for a guarantee of a good quality work. Top tattoo artists like Paul Timman, Kat VD, and Anil Gupta, for instance, can charge $350 or more per hour. Here are the top inkers in New York City and how much they charge per hour:
Stephanie Tamez $200 to $400
Anil Gupta $450 and up
Paul Booth $300 and up
Mike Rubendall $125 to $200

List with Tattoo Prices By Artist and Shop

Additionally, we collected data from all over the country to give you a better idea of the hourly rates of artists and studios.

Tatlantis Fred Giovannitti $150 4440 S. Maryland Pkwy. #111 Las Vegas, NV 89119
Wild Idea Tattoo and Piercing Jamie Grav $120 331Knollwood Drive – Rapid City, South Dakota
Tough Luck Tattoo & Piercing Studio Steve Scott $125 3534 Douglas Dr., Crystal, MN
Invisible NYC Troy Denning $150 148 Orchard Street, New York, NY
Transcend Tattoo & Art Gallery Nick Baxter $125 906 West Main Street, Branford, CT
Evolution Tattoo William Webb $125 570 Bridgeton Pike, Mantua, NJ
Body Manipulations n/a $150 3234 16th Street @ Dolores, San Francisco, CA
Hardman Tattoo, Co. Bond $150 1501 N. Academy Blvd Colorado Springs, CO
Above the Pearl Tattoo Space and Gallery Tanya Magdalena $135 1720 NW Lovejoy St. #339, Portland, OR
Thrash’s Tattoo & Piercing Matt Thrash $125 3223 West Main Street, Rapid City, SD
Nathan’s Tattoos & Piercing Eric Evans $100 7222 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Canoga Park, CA
SuperGenius Tattoo Damon Conklin $225 1017 E Pike St. Seattle, WA
Diving Swallow Marie Wadman $190 264 14th St., Oakland, CA
MD Tattoo Studio Mike Devries $150 9545 Reseda Blvd, #2. Northridge, CA
Body Art Studio 13 n/a $120 150c Hartford Ave., Hopedale, MA
Black and Blue Tattoo Idexa Stern $200 381 Guerrero, 16th St., San Francisco,CA
Slave on the Needle Ben There $150 508 NW 65th Street, Seattle, WA
Electric Chair Tattoo Stephanie $100 8722 Richmond Ave. , Houston, Texas
Art for Life Tattoo Mike Connors $120 16 Cypress st. Keene, NH
Inkline Studio Anil Gupta $300 62 Rivington Street #1B, New York, NY

Additional Costs Involved

Unfortunately, the upfront cost of tattooing is not all there is when speaking of tattoo prices. Additional costs are always in the picture including the following:

  • Tip. It is customary that you tip the tattoo artist, especially if you are satisfied with the outcome of the tattoo. Usually, you need to pay 15 to 20 percent of the total cost as a tip to the tattoo artist.
  • Tattoo aftercare ointment. During the healing process, a moisturizer is oftentimes necessary to help with the healing process. Ointments and lubrications like this are priced anywhere from $5 to $50 depending on the size of the ointment.
  • Touch ups. After some time, the colors on your tattoo can fade. This requires touch ups, which can cost around $30 depending on the size and the current quality of the tattoo.
  • Removal. In any case you want to remove your tattoo, the cost can be even more than how much you have spent for getting the tattoo in the first place. Laser tattoo removal cost thousands of dollars, which can surely hurt your budget. If you do not want this from happening to you, make sure you are fully decided on getting a tattoo as well as on the design and its location on your body.

Shopping Around and Getting Discounts

Getting a tattoo is not something that must be bargained. Every person who wants a tattoo must keep this fact in mind.  Though it may be tempting to find cheap tattoo parlors and artists, it never is a practical idea to go for the cheapest one in the market. What is important here is you look for the quality.

It is also not a good custom to haggle the price with the tattoo artist as this is somewhat disrespectful. Remember, the artist asks for a price according to his skills, experience, and quality of work he offers. If you cannot pay for the quality, wait until you are able to afford it instead of finding cheaper deals or haggling on the price. This is very important for you to consider because a tattoo is something you will wear for life. If you don’t pay for quality today, you might regret getting one after some time.

However, there are times that you can get good deals from a good tattoo parlor without haggling for the price. Some artists will give you discounts especially if you are his regular customer. Besides quality of work, safety is also something to look for. It is okay to pay more to a shop or artist as long as you are guaranteed of the safety of the work such as the cleanliness of the equipment.

Getting a tattoo is a very serious decision. With the cost alone, it must be well thought off all the time. So before you go get a body ink, make sure you are a hundred percent sure with your decision. This is true because a tattoo is not only expensive to get but also expensive to maintain and even more expensive to remove in the long run.

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