How Much Should Your Tattoo Cost?

Girl with blue hair and tattoos looking over
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If you're wondering how much tattoos cost, you’ve likely begun researching the topic. And if you’re here because you’ve been wondering why on earth they cost so much, there’s a chance that you've already begun to consider sacrificing quality for the sake of your budget. As the old saying goes, “if you have to ask what something costs you can't afford it”—applying that same thought process to anything that makes a permanent mark on your body might be a wise choice, but we’re here to break down costs anyway.

The Artist Sets the Rate

Much like hairdressers often do, tattoo artists tend to set their own rules and guidelines for pricing their artistry. This can be a very good thing, or a very bad thing. Depending on the type of tattoo, location and hours worth of work involved, when you know the price you can better plan your tattoo without sacrificing the quality of your piece.

As with most service industries, you'll find the better the job, the more it’s worth, and the more you have to pay. Which brings us to a really important tip: don’t make the mistake of getting inked sooner and at a lower quality than necessary just to save a few pennies. Your body is always worth the best and if you have a general idea of how much tattoos cost, you can plan accordingly and begin saving for your body art while still actively in the design idea process.

Nearly all tattoo artists will price their work based on the time, skill and products needed to perform the service you’re requesting.

To get anything other than the base price, picking up the phone and calling a tattoo shop beforehand to get an idea of their pricing probably won’t work. Unless you’re getting a tattoo that’s been pre-designed and sized, the artist will need to see you and determine the cost before getting a physical start. Not only will a consultation help you understand the level of involvement the work will take but also the expense, while also leaving you the time to make any design adjustments so that you can afford your piece should that be the underlying issue.

Basic Considerations

The following underlying considerations will be placed into account while quoting the final cost of your tattoo.

Location: For the basic fact that some locations are more difficult to ink, your artist may raise the price in order to accommodate your request.

Detail: Good art is all in the details, and that's semi-unfortunately what you're going to pay for. A simple piece of flash art will not require as much detail as the production of, say, a Salvador Dali-inspired tattoo.

Colors: If you're stuck debating whether you should get a black and gray tattoo or a colorful one, and your budget is a consideration, opt for the black. Generally, the more colorful the tattoo, the more it will cost.

Size: The size of your tattoo is likely the largest consideration in the design process. Expect to pay more the bigger you go. It takes longer, which means you pay more of their hourly rate.

Custom or Flash: Anytime you ask an artist to delve into their own creativity you are going to pay for both the time it took. In other words, if you can find a piece of flash you are certain you love, you'll likely pay less than a custom designed piece.

Explore Other Options

Once you've received an official tattoo artist quote you can either book the appointment, shop around or make adjustments to your tattoo to match your budget. Consider changing locations or limiting the amount of detail in your tattoo, so long as it doesn't sacrifice the overall tattoo concept. Or, better yet, save your pennies and do it right the first time. After all, tattoo removal is even costlier.

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