How Much Do Tattoos Cost?

How Much Do Tattoos Cost?

Perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions regarding tattoos by those who have never gotten one is “how much do tattoos cost?” There is no definitive, single solid answer to the question because there are many factors involved. In order to familiarize yourself with these factors, it is important that you know the most common determinations used by tattoo artists before quoting a customer a price.

Here is a brief breakdown on what determines the price of a tattoo:

  • Size of the artwork
  • Level of detail
  • Location of parlor
  • Amount of colors
  • Original design
  • Tattoo flash design
  • Tattoo artist you choose

Naturally, a larger tattoo will cost more than a smaller one. The same would hold true if a tattoo contains a large amount of colors. Where you desire to have a tattoo is also a determining factor. If you would like a tattoo in a relatively easy spot, for example, the leg or the arm, it would be much cheaper. On the other hand, a tattoo on the small of the back or ribs could cost a lot more because they are trickier locations. In many tattoo shops, this is known as the body fee. As a general rule, these are the hardest locations to ink, and will likely cost more:

  • Waist area
  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Neck
  • Torso

How Much Do Tattoos Cost ImageBelieve it or not, the location of a tattoo parlor also determines the entry level price of a tattoo. If you are in a large city the prices are likely to be higher than parlors that are located in surrounding areas. A lot of this may have to do with how well known the particular artists in a shop are. Some shops may specialize in specific designs and charge more accordingly. You can be assured that if a tattoo artist is extremely popular in a particular area, you will be charged more than if you were to visit with a lesser known tattoo artist. While most tattoo artists have a base fee, if one is especially popular, he/she may charge up to $250 per hour. While this may be an extreme example, it is something to keep in mind when considering how much do tattoos cost. Just because a particular artist is very well-known does not mean that his work is necessarily better than a lesser-known artist. The important thing to consider is that a tattoo is a permanent decision. It is best to be satisfied with the artwork you like, rather than brag about the artist(s) who inked you up. Any professional, reliable tattoo artist will provide you with references and an extensive portfolio of his/her previous work. Referrals from friends are also valuable in choosing the right tattoo artist for the job.

Are you looking for a specific pre-determined pattern you’ve seen before, or do you want a custom design? A pattern or specific artwork that you pick out of an artists book is known as a flash tattoo and is much cheaper than a custom design. If you choose a custom design, the tattoo artist will likely charge much more than if you were to select a design from the pattern album. Bringing in a custom design requires that the tattoo artist work a lot longer. After all, he/she needs to create a pattern for your custom design. How much a custom job costs will vary from parlor to parlor and from artist to artist. Sometimes, you may be able to offset the cost of a custom job by providing the artist with as much required information as possible. Providing photographs, stencils, and artwork on paper will certainly aid the tattoo artist in making your customized tattoo design quicker, as less research and preparation will need to be done on the part of the artist.

Another thing when considering how much do tattoos cost is whether the parlor charges per item or by the hour. When tattoos are charged on a per item basis, they are generally less expensive. If charged by the hour, depending on your specifications, you can expect to pay up to between $50-$200 per hour or more – especially if you are requesting a large, detailed tattoo.

In general, you can expect a simple tattoo of regular size to cost under $100. The prices will naturally go up from there. If you are looking to get a tattoo which is more detailed, sizable, and may take a considerable amount of time, it would probably be best to visit several tattoo shops in your area and ask for a rough estimate to get the job done. This way, you can get competitive prices, determine your budget, and protect yourself from the element of surprise concerning the final price. You should also factor in a 20%-25% gratuity fee, as this is the customary tip in the tattoo field.

Another surprising factor to consider when determining how much do tattoos cost is what type of skin you have. Obviously the darker the skin, the harder it is to tattoo. Sensitive skin is hard to work with, as is older skin. Some tattoo artists may consider it a pain to work with such skin types and charge a bit more. It is always a smart thing to mention any skin troubles to the artist before deciding on a tattoo.

It would also be wise to determine what part of the year and what part of the day you would like to get your tattoo. This also factors into the question of how much do tattoos cost. It would be wise to determine the slower part of the season for tattoos. This will vary depending where you live and what the tourist trends may be in the area. Asking your local tattoo shops when they usually slow down during the year will help in making this determination. It is also a general rule that shops will charge less when they are less busy during the day. If you try to get your tattoo later in the day or at night near closing time, odds are you will be charged more for your tattoo.

Hopefully, the aforementioned insights here will aid you in determining which direction you should go with your first tattoo. Take this advice to heart and good luck in your quest on finding the perfect, first tattoo.

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