How Much Do Tattoos Cost? 2 Experts Break It Down

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A tattoo is the ultimate blend of art, creativity, and self-expression – a means of decorating your body in a way that feels personal to you. When considering getting some new ink, the first decision you’ve got to make is how much you want to spend. Even before you pick out the tattoo placement or the design, it’s helpful to determine how much cash you’re willing to shell out for it. Whether it’s your first or 50th, the average price of your future tattoo depends on a few different factors.

Want a simple, small fine-line tattoo? Your total might be on the lower end. Choosing an artist with a bit of notoriety? You’re paying for the expertise and a fraction of their busy schedule. The cost of a tattoo depends on a variety of elements. This includes the tattoo design itself, the size, where you live, the artist, and the time it takes to complete it, among many other aspects.

We’ve gone ahead and done some research, as well as spoken to a few experts, to deliver the ultimate guide to tattoo pricing. Keep reading to learn more.

Factors That Influence the Cost of Tattoos

Determining the cost of a tattoo is a multifaceted process. “While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, artists typically consider size, detail, complexity, shading, linework, body placement, and the color of the ink,” Justin Wayne, a tattooist at Atelier Eva, tells POPSUGAR. He’s given us a list of important factors below.

It’s important to remember that when you get a tattoo, you’re paying for art that will permanently reside on your body. The way your tattoo artist determines pricing reflects their expertise, which “is built upon years of experience in the field, rather than just the time spent on the tattoo itself when providing an estimate for a tattoo,” Wayne says. Sometimes, tattoo artists also have to spend time sketching and creating the design ahead of time, which can affect the price.

Size and Detail: The size of your design and its corresponding level of detail play a significant role in pricing. Larger and more detailed tattoos require more time to complete. This is often the primary factor. Even a small tattoo with intricate design elements can take longer to finish than a larger, simpler piece.

Design Complexity: Complex designs, regardless of their size, can be time-consuming to execute. They often involve intricate linework or shading, which can extend the tattooing process.

Sustainability of Detail: Larger tattoos tend to hold more sustainable detail over time, while smaller designs may need to be simplified to ensure they age well, which can impact the pricing.

Ink Work: Achieving the desired shading or linework may require multiple passes with the needle. Larger tattoos can prolong this process, affecting the cost.

Body Placement: The location on your body where you want the tattoo matters. Certain areas, such as feet and finger tattoos, are considered premium locations due to their high movement and difficulty. Ribs can be tricky as well because of the way skin stretches and the constant movement of the area.

Cover-Ups and Scars: Cover-up tattoos or tattooing on scars can be a complex process. Some artists specialize in this, and it’s an area where pricing can vary.

Availability and Workflow: The physical demands of tattooing can vary. Some artists prefer to work fewer days per week or take only one appointment per day, which can limit their availability. Artists working on larger compositions may require multiple sessions with the same design, affecting both availability and cost. An artist’s technique may also require more time to ensure a perfect tattoo.

Design Simplification: If you’re worried about the cost, artists can simplify the level of detail, complexity, sizing, and location to accommodate your budget.

Switching Styles: Switching from color to black and gray or from shaded to linework can generally lower the cost estimate.

How Much Do Tattoos Cost?

The pricing of tattoos is highly influenced by location. In the United States, for instance, a noticeable price divide exists, “with larger cities typically charging higher rates due to the higher cost of living and potentially higher studio costs,” says Logan Aguilar, lead artist at The Hidden Rose in New York City. At the same time, less experienced artists might charge significantly less, making tattooing more accessible.

“Master tattoo artists, especially those with high demand and long waiting lists, can charge premium rates, and their appointments can be booked out for months or even years in advance,” Aguilar says. Depending on that and location, the price can range anywhere from $50 to $500 per hour or $500 to $5,000 for a flat day rate.

Expect to pay closer to the higher end if you live in a big city like New York, Los Angeles, or Miami. A good rule of thumb is that the cost of living is equal to the price of a tattoo. In any case, you should start by doing your research and finding a few skilled artists whose work you admire, then ask what they charge.

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