How much does it cost to get a tattoo?

By Vlad Barikhin, Vlad Blad Irons CEO
April 14, 2024
Table of contents:
Getting a tattoo is an exciting decision, often marking significant moments or personal expressions. However, before you embark on this form of body art, it's crucial to understand the financial commitment involved. The cost of tattoos can vary widely, influenced by a range of factors from the artist's skill to the complexity of the design. In this article, we'll explore these factors in depth, ensuring you walk into your tattoo appointment not only ready for the needle but also financially prepared.

Understanding the costs involved is essential for planning your tattoo, especially since it can be a substantial financial investment. Knowing what affects the pricing helps you budget accordingly and can influence decisions about the design, size, and even the artist you choose. Let's break down the basic factors that influence how much you will pay for a tattoo.
«Let's say these are recommendations from an artist to other artists. Let's start with the classics.»
Vlad Barikhin
Vlad Blad Irons CEO
Basic Factors Influencing Tattoo Costs

Artist Skill and Experience

The expertise and reputation of a tattoo artist are among the most significant factors in determining the cost of a tattoo. Highly experienced artists, particularly those who have gained recognition in the tattoo community or have a unique style, often charge more for their services. Their years of experience and developed skills ensure a higher quality and consistency that many clients are willing to pay a premium for. Conversely, newer artists or those still building their reputation may offer lower rates as they attract clientele.

Tattoo Size and Complexity

The size of the tattoo significantly impacts the cost. A small, simple design is generally less expensive than a large, intricate one. Larger tattoos require more time and resources, which naturally drives up the price. Additionally, the complexity of a design also plays a crucial role. A tattoo with intricate details, multiple colors, and complex shading will require more hours of work compared to a straightforward symbol or text, reflecting directly on the final price. Each element of the design adds to the time it takes to complete the tattoo, which in turn adds to the cost.

Color vs. Black and Gray

The choice between color and black and gray ink also affects the cost of a tattoo. Generally, color tattoos are more expensive than black and gray ones. This is because color tattoos often require more time and a variety of inks to achieve the desired outcome. Color inks are sometimes more expensive than black ink, and applying them can be a more meticulous and time-consuming process, especially if the tattoo involves blending or multiple shades. However, the impact of color on the price can vary depending on the artist and the specific design demands.
In summary, several key factors determine the cost of a tattoo, from the artist's skill level and the tattoo's size and complexity to the types of inks used. Understanding these factors will help you better prepare for the cost associated with getting your new tattoo.

Additional Cost Factors

Tattoo Placement

The placement of a tattoo on the body can significantly affect its cost. Some areas of the body are more challenging and sensitive to tattoos, requiring the artist to work more slowly and carefully, which can increase the time and cost. For instance, tattoos on the ribs, spine, or near joints like ankles and wrists tend to be more painful and complex due to the thin skin and proximity to bones. Consequently, artists may charge more for working on these difficult areas compared to more accessible locations like the forearm or shoulder.

Studio Reputation and Location

The reputation and location of a tattoo studio are also key factors in the pricing of tattoos. Renowned studios with well-known artists often charge more due to their high demand and proven track record of quality. Additionally, studios located in city centers or in areas with high foot traffic typically have higher overhead costs (like rent and utilities), which can be reflected in their pricing. In contrast, a studio situated on the outskirts of a city or in a smaller town might offer more competitive rates due to lower operational costs.

Custom Artwork vs. Flash Designs

The choice between custom artwork and flash designs can greatly influence the cost of a tattoo. Custom tattoos are unique designs created specifically for a client, often involving considerable time in design and planning. This personalized service usually comes with a higher price tag due to the time the artist spends creating and perfecting the design before even starting the tattoo. On the other hand, flash designs are pre-made templates that can be quickly chosen and applied. Since these designs require less time and no customization, they are generally less expensive and can be a more budget-friendly option.

Regional Cost Variations

Cost Differences by Country and Region

Tattoo prices can vary dramatically across different countries and regions, reflecting the local cost of living, economic conditions, and cultural value placed on tattoo art. For instance, tattoo studios in major Western cities like New York or London typically charge much higher rates than those in Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia due to higher local living costs and market demand. Even within a country, regional differences can be significant; for example, a tattoo that costs $200 in a small American town might cost $400 or more in a large metropolitan area

International Pricing Examples

To illustrate the diversity in tattoo pricing globally, consider these average costs for a medium-sized black and gray tattoo:
  • New York, USA: $500 - $1500
  • London, UK: £400 - £1000 (approximately $520 - $1300)
  • Berlin, Germany: €350 - €800 (approximately $390 - $890)
  • Bangkok, Thailand: ฿5000 - ฿10000 (approximately $150 - $300)
  • Sydney, Australia: A$600 - A$1500 (approximately $420 - $1050)
These examples highlight how geographical location influences tattoo pricing, driven by factors like the standard of living, popularity of tattooing in the culture, and local economic conditions. Understanding these variations can help potential tattoo clients budget accordingly and set realistic expectations based on their geographic location.

Pricing Structures

Hourly Rates vs. Flat Fees

Tattoo artists typically use two common pricing structures: hourly rates and flat fees. Hourly rates are often used for larger or more complex tattoos that take longer to complete. This method ensures that the artist is compensated fairly for their time, especially when working on intricate designs that might extend beyond initial estimates. The advantage of hourly pricing is transparency; clients pay for exactly how much time the tattoo takes. However, this can also be a disadvantage because it makes the total cost unpredictable if the tattooing process takes longer than expected.

Flat fees are generally quoted for smaller tattoos or standard designs that are quicker to execute. This pricing structure is beneficial for clients as it provides a clear upfront cost, making budgeting easier. The downside for the artist is that if unforeseen complications arise, causing the tattoo to take longer, they may end up under-compensated for their time and effort.

Deposits and Minimum Charges

Most tattoo studios require a deposit when booking an appointment. This deposit secures the client's slot and is typically subtracted from the final cost of the tattoo. Deposits protect the artist by ensuring that the client is committed, helping to cover losses if the client cancels without sufficient notice.

Minimum charges are also common, especially for very small tattoos. Even if a tattoo only takes 30 minutes to complete, the studio might have a set minimum charge to account for the time spent preparing and sterilizing equipment. This ensures that every appointment is financially worthwhile for the artist, considering their overhead costs.

Hidden and Additional Costs

Aftercare Products

After getting a tattoo, proper aftercare is crucial to ensure optimal healing and maintain the quality of the ink. Aftercare products such as ointments, lotions, and bandages are essential, but they also add to the overall cost of getting a tattoo. Clients should budget for aftercare products, which can range from a few dollars for basic ointments to more for specialized products recommended by the artist.


Sometimes, a tattoo may need a touch-up after the initial healing process. Some areas might not heal perfectly, or the ink may fade unevenly, necessitating minor corrections. Many artists offer free touch-ups within a certain period after the tattoo is completed, but this is not universal. If charges apply, they are usually less than the cost of the original tattoo but can vary based on the extent of work needed. Clients should discuss the possibility and cost of touch-ups with their artist beforehand to avoid unexpected expenses.

Understanding these pricing structures and additional costs is vital for anyone considering getting a tattoo, as it helps in planning and ensures there are no surprises when it comes to settling the bill.

Tips for Budgeting for a Tattoo

How to Save Up for a Tattoo

Saving for a tattoo involves thoughtful planning and financial discipline, especially since it is a luxury and not a necessity. Here are some practical tips for accumulating funds for your next tattoo:

  • Set a Budget Goal. Estimate the total cost of the tattoo by consulting with potential artists about their rates. Once you have a rough idea, you can set a realistic savings goal;
  • Open a Dedicated Savings Account. Keep your tattoo funds separate to avoid spending them inadvertently. Seeing the money accumulate can also be a great motivational boost;
  • Automatic Transfers. Set up automatic transfers to your tattoo savings account each payday. Even small, regular savings can quickly add up without impacting your daily finances significantly;
  • Cut Unnecessary Expenses. Temporarily cut back on discretionary spending, such as dining out, subscription services, or luxury purchases. Redirect these funds to your tattoo savings;
  • Extra Income. Consider taking on freelance gigs, selling items you no longer need, or other side hustles to raise additional funds for your tattoo.

Quality vs. Cost

While it's important to stick to your budget, it's equally crucial not to compromise on the quality of your tattoo to save money. Remember the adage, "You get what you pay for," especially true in the tattoo industry. A lower cost can often mean lower quality, which can lead to dissatisfaction with the final artwork or, worse, health risks from poor hygiene practices. Investing in a reputable artist might be more expensive initially but can save you from potential costly touch-ups or corrections in the future. Always prioritize the artist's skill, experience, and professionalism over the cost.


Understanding the full scope of tattoo costs is crucial for anyone considering this form of body art. From the artist's fees to the location of the studio, and from the complexity of the design to aftercare products, many variables can affect the total price of getting a tattoo. Before making a decision, it's essential to consider all these factors and consult with several tattoo artists to get accurate pricing and advice. This not only helps in setting realistic expectations but also ensures that you are fully prepared financially without compromising on the quality of your tattoo. Remember, a tattoo is a permanent addition to your body and, as such, deserves careful planning and consideration.
Understanding the different types of tattoo machines is crucial for every artist aiming to excel in this field. The journey of exploration doesn't stop here; in the next article, we will delve deeper into the realms of tattoo machine performance and reliability, aiding artists in making informed decisions for their craft.
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