How Much Does a Tattoo Cost?

Last Updated on May 7, 2021

How much does a tattoo cost?

Looking to get your first tattoo and wondering how much it would cost you?

Tattoo prices aren’t as easy as black and white. You have to consider several factors, including size, placement, where you live, how complex the piece is, your artist’s skill level, and their hourly rates.

Lucky for you, I’m here to break it down.

Let’s talk about the average prices and the average price you should expect to be paying when getting yourself a tattoo. To help you estimate your tattoo price, I have devised a guide of different types by size and design.

Let’s get into it!

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How much do tattoos cost on average?

The average tattoo by average tattoo artists usually falls within the bracket of $100-$1000 depending on the size. A small tattoo cost may cost as little as $100, while a large one could be around $1000 and sometimes even more.

But how much should I expect to pay for a tattoo?

Small tattoos tend to have simpler designs and take less time to create; you will find them on your wrist, hand, finger, ankle, arm, and neck.

The price of your tattoo is also down to where you live. If you live in a built-up city such as Manhattan or Los Angeles, you should expect to pay more than you would if you went to a tattoo artist in Memphis, Omaha, Columbus.

I would recommend setting a budget of around $250-$500 for a medium-sized tattoo (bicep, forearm, shoulder, chest, back, or leg).

Large tattoos tend to start at $500 and up because the more you get, the more time the tattoo artist will have to put in, and hence the more you’ll need to pay. A full sleeve will likely put you $1500 out of pocket.

Average tattoo cost by size:

The most obvious factor in the tattoo pricing is the size and how detailed the tattooed piece is going to be. If you’re planning on getting a little tattoo on your finger, it will cost a lot less than a full sleeve or a leg tattoo.

If you’re getting a small but extremely intricate and detailed design with lots of shading, then it may cost more than a basic sleeve or basic large tattoo. Small and intricate designs always take longer than basic linework.

Tiny tattoo cost:

This is usually your average finger tattoo or tiny tattoo on your ankle or behind your ear. A tiny piece’s tattoo prices tend to range between $50-$100 depending on the tattoo shop.

Despite the tattoo size being small for these tattoos, the tattoo cost is mainly down to how much detail and the tattoo’s body placement. If it is a detailed tattoo design behind the back of the ear, it will take some time to complete.

Minimum fees tend to come into play with tiny tattoos to cover the fee of the needle, equipment maintenance and cleaning, ink, and how long it takes to tattoo. These all come into play when deciding the tattoo cost.

Your average tiny tattoo would be a flower, crown, name, tiny heart, or any small design, usually around a coin size (around 2 square inches).

Small Tattoo Cost

These tattoos can range between 2-6 square inches; their designs are usually very detailed and designed and created by a skilled artist.

Usually, you will find that a small tattoo will put you $100-$250 out of your wallet; this tends to be because a tattoo artist in tattoo parlors tends to have a minimum price regardless of size.

This price depends on how detailed the design being created is and the artist’s experience and skill. This fee is usually, on average, around $30 on top of the tattoo price to pay for the equipment and time taken out to do the tattoo.

You would usually find small tattoo designs similar to the tiny ones; they could be a name, flowers, or small unique designs.

Medium size tattoo cost:

Medium-sized tattoos tend to fall in the bracket of around 7-16 inches of canvas space, so you will often find them on the bicep, forearm, shoulder, part of the chest, back, or leg.

The tattoo prices tend to range from $250-$500 in price but usually around $300 on average. These tattoos can have a wide range of different designs within one tattoo, such as different types of flowers, a tattoo bursting with different colors, and many more.

It allows more variety within the tattoo design, and as a result, the tattoo cost tends to be much more.

Large tattoo cost:

Large tattoos vary in size the most out of them; it can be quite difficult to establish a set price for these tattoos.

It all depends on how detailed the piece is, whether it is black and white or in color, the tattoo’s body placement, and how long it will take for the tattoo shop to create.

All these factors are considered in the tattoo prices, and they will vary between artist to artist and tattoo shop. Large tattoos tend to start at around $500, but they can go higher than $1500 if you’re looking to get a full sleeve.

Average tattoo price by location on your body:

The tattoo placement has a massive part to play with how much the tattoo costs. Some areas of your body are more awkward than others and require more care and attention; one body part may be more awkward than another.

Armpit tattoos will take significantly longer than leg tattoos because the shape of the armpit is awkward and will take time to tattoo.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re looking to get a tattoo in a slightly awkward area, you should be prepared to pay a little extra than usual.

Let’s break it down:

Chest Tattoo Cost:

The average tattoo prices for chest tattoos tend to range from $400 to around $1500 in price, depending on the tattoo designs and the tattoo shops.

A small chest tattoo will be at the lower end of the price range, and this tattoo will cost around $400. A half chest tattoo will cost around $500-$600, and a full chest tattoo will cost around $600 to as much as $1500.

This tattoo cost all depends on the detail of the piece, the shading, whether the design is using colored ink, and the artist’s experience. A simple black and grey design are much more affordable as the ink is less expensive, plus the designs tend to be much more basic.

Back Tattoo Cost:

A back piece tattoo price can vary from client to client and from design to design from one tattoo parlor to another tattoo parlor.

This is because the size of our backs differs from person to person. It also depends on how much of your back you want to be covered and its detail.

Full-back tattoo prices range between $2000 and $4000 depending on the detail, the ink used and the time spent creating the design. If you’re looking for only half of your back to be covered, then it will range between $800 and $1200.

Back piece tattoos are badass, and they look insane without a top or if they’re slightly popping out of your top, up to your neck. Some of the designs I’ve seen over the years are pretty amazing.

Arm Tattoo Cost:

As there are so many parts of the arm in which you can get a tattoo, it can be quite difficult to ask for an ‘arm tattoo’ the artist will often as if you’d like a sleeve, wrist tattoo, or where exactly on your arm you’d like to be tattooed.

On average, the cost will range from as little as $300 to as much as $2000– a sleeve tattoo cost will be much higher than a basic design on your wrist.

The amazing thing about arm tattoos is the fact that you can build on your design; one little design can become a whole sleeve if you keep building it over months or even years.

Here are the tattoo average cost of arm tattoos:

Forearm Tattoo Cost:

On average, a forearm tattoo costs around $400-$1500 depending on the size, color tattoo cost, and the detail of the design.

A simple design near the wrist can be a cheaper option, but forearm tattoos that are closer to a half sleeve tattoo will naturally cost more. The tattoo prices of forearm tattoos all depend on what the tattoo artist charges per hour.

These designs can be small, like a name going along your forearm, or they can be more detailed body art like flowers or of a tiger, clock, or a skull. As with any tattoo, the detail of the ink and the color will be all factor in when it comes to the cost.

Full Sleeve Tattoo Cost:

A full sleeve tattoo tends to range between $1500 and $5000 depending on the intricacy of the design and how many sessions it takes to complete.

Because of the tattoo’s sheer size and the detail which goes into the ink, full sleeves tend to be one of the most expensive tattoos you can get. The full sleeve tattoos design usually takes more than a session to complete, which adds to these tattoo prices.

Usually, people start with half a sleeve and gradually add more designs to this tattoo until it becomes a complete sleeve. Black and grey coloring tends to be much cheaper because colors require more shading, and ink tends to cost more.

Colored tattoos take a lot longer as the artist needs to change and mix colors before moving onto the next section of the tattoo.

Half Sleeve Tattoo Cost:

Half sleeve tattoo prices tend to be around $800+, but you will be looking at around $1000-$1500 for the complete tattoo on average.

Artists will most likely create unique designs for their clients, ranging in different images, colors, and detail. This type of tattoo lot more than your basic linework; it will take time with shading, detailing, and changing between ink if you’ve chosen different colors.

Despite the half sleeve tattoo cost, these tattoos are badass, and they’ll be sure to get compliments (plus the ladies love sleeve tattoos).

Bicep Tattoos Cost:

Depending on the size of your bicep and how much of the bicep you want to be covered, you should expect the tattoo cost to be around $350 to $600 on average.

Small and simple average tattoo cost on a bicep can be fairly affordable and can give off an insane 3D effect. Again, tattoos with colored ink will run you up a bit more money in a tattoo studio.

Wrist tattoos price:

Wrist tattoos are another awesome place to get inked. They do tend to be the most affordable out of the rest of the tattoos in tattoo parlors. They can range between as little as $75 to $400.

This will depend on the size, color, and detail of the ink, and you will tend to find symbols, roses, a name, compass, and even a bracelet kind of effect– with wrist tattoos, the world is your oyster, you can go for a popular design of one designed by yourself.

Shoulder Tattoos Cost:

On average, shoulder tattoo prices range between $600 and $1200, depending on the size and detail. You can either have a small part of your shoulder covered or cover your entire upper arm, these tattoos look insane.

You can either pair this with a sleeve, or if you work in a professional role and looking for a tattoo that can be easily covered, it can be a super cool idea to get a shoulder tattoo.

Hand Tattoo Cost:

The last and arguably most important part of the arm is the hand. A hand tattoo is super cool, and it can range between $100 and $800, depending on the designs.

Despite the hand being a small area to tattoo, you can still get some insane designs and detail and can be quite expensive depending on the tattoo studio you go to.

Hands are one of the most delicate and sensitive parts of the body, not to mention the most visible; they require experienced artists that will probably charge high prices per hour. Still, it is definitely worth it over paying half the price for a botched job you’re stuck with for the rest of your life.

Small designs are also often bumped up to the shop minimum and the price required to cover all the costs of creating any tattoo. You can also get small little finger tattoos for under $100.

Thigh tattoo Cost:

A tight tattoo is on the top end of the spectrum when it comes to cost. For small designs on the hip, side tattoo, back, or front of your thigh, prices can be as little as $300, but for the full thigh tattoo, it can cost as much as $3000.

If you’re looking to get a design with vivid colors, this can put you back even more because it requires creative shading, detailing as well as a hell of a lot of time.

Ankle Tattoo Cost:

An ankle tattoo can range between $75 to $350, depending on the elaborate pieces’ detail. Ankle tattoos are very popular amongst women and look super cute with some sandals or even barefoot.

Calf Tattoo Cost:

A calf tattoo cost can range from as little as $350 to as much as $600. Size, shape, and coloring all come into play when it comes to pricing this piece.

Simple calf pieces can actually be very affordable, but pieces covering the whole calf can cost a minimum of $500 without question.

Sternum Tattoo Cost:

A sternum tattoo is really flattering and popular amongst women; on average, this piece will cost between $400 to $1000, depending on the detailing and size.

This piece is also known as an under-the-breast tattoo and follows the line going along the underneath of the breast, it can be quite a sensitive spot, but the results are pretty breathtaking.

The price can also increase further if you decide to expand the location of the piece to the ribs or stomach or most of your torso.

For men, it is popular to connect the Sternum to the shoulders, and for women, a simple design under the breast is rather appealing.

 

Other Tattoo Cost Factors:

When getting yourself a tattoo, despite size and placement being crucial factors in determining tattoo prices, some other key factors are considered.

These factors come into play massively when pricing a tattoo:

Tattoo Artist Skill & Experience:

The tattoo artist’s skill and experience have a massive factor to play when it comes to working out how much your tattoo will cost. The skill of one tattoo artist will massively vary to another tattoo artist.

If your mate is charging you 20 bucks to give you a tattoo with his cheap tattoo kit from Amazon, then you’re guaranteed to get a botched job. Tattoos are expensive for a reason.

So if you go into a tattoo parlor and ask an artist with 20-30 years of experience to do you a tattoo, don’t be shocked when they ask for $200+ an hour because you’re paying for their skill and art.

That being said, a tattoo artist doesn’t need years and years under their belt to determine whether they’re a good artist. Some artists with 5 years of experience are sometimes better than those with 20 years.

There are some extremely talented artists out there that only have a few years under their belt, and there are some tattoo artists that have 20 years under their belt, but they’re no better than they were when they first started– either they don’t have the skill or don’t care enough to improve.

Now the tattoo cost is the artist’s cost, but a tip is also a brilliant way of showing appreciation. I know they may seem expensive, but that artist has poured their heart and soul into that tattoo– it’s always nice to show some appreciation!

Don’t knock less experienced tattoo artists; they may surprise you more than a tattoo artist that has been in the tattoo industry for years.

Tattoo Artists Popularity:

This is fairly standard; the more popular the tattoo artist, the higher the demand, and hence the higher the prices. Tattoo artists will charge as much as they can to get business still.

Tattoo artists tend to charge more if they have a higher demand and a long waiting list, as people are eager to get new tattoos and pay the price.

If you get tattooed by a popular artist, you must be prepared to pay for premium ink and the premium design.

Tattoo artist technique:

Now, this is one of the important considerations when it comes down to tattoo prices within a tattoo shop. Tattoo artists all use different tattooing techniques to one that suits them best.

Artists from different cultures practice tattooing using older, traditional methods, whereas others have no experience in traditional techniques.

Those who still tattoo using these traditional methods also tend to charge more because you’re paying for the specific culture design and the privilege of using traditional techniques.

Artist Speed:

All artists work at different speeds, some may work at a face pace, but others may take a little longer. No way is better as it all depends on their work.

Just bear in mind that a tattoo artist that takes longer will cost more than a quicker one, especially if you’re being charged per hour.

Studio Location

This factor comes hand in hand with popularity. If the tattoo shop is less popular or located in a small town, it will charge less than a trendy and bigger studio in a larger, more built-up concrete city like NYC.

This is because their customer base is much smaller for smaller businesses, and they’ll have to be much more careful with their tattoo pricing to prevent putting off their smaller client base.

Smaller studios tend to be much cheaper because a good tattoo artist is much harder to find than in a much higher populated city and where tattoo studios are more common.

Tattoo Planning:

Now when it comes down to planning your piece, there is a lot of time and dedication to the design. Artists tend to spend around an hour designing the tattoo, which will be on top of the piece’s price per hour.

This design charge is often used to ward off those who will take the design elsewhere, to somewhere cheaper, hence why it widely differs in price from artist to artist.

If you make too many changes to your design, then the artist may ask for additional cash to cover the cost of the time spent perfecting your piece.

Tattoo Color:

This is also when tattoo color comes into consideration too. Color designs tend to cost a lot more than a basic black and white one.

This is because colored inks tend to cost a lot more than black inks, but if you’re lucky, some tattoo shops will cost an hourly rate regardless of the color.

Getting a tattoo in color may be more expensive because your tattoo artist will need to take longer between tattooing to change and mix colors for the next section of the tattoo.

This back and forth process can bump up the tattoo cost because the process is longer, especially with a bigger design. It takes time for the tattoo artist to mix and maintain colors throughout the entire tattooing session.

Colors also tend to fade much faster than black and white pieces, so it may cost more in touch-ups and fill in significant fading in the long run.

Summary:

All in all, when you pay the price for a tattoo, you’re investing in a piece that will permanently be on your body for life (unless you get it removed).

If you feel shocked by some of the prices, you should remember that this piece is a lifelong investment and decide whether it is worth it.

Prices of pieces differ from artist to artist because of experience, location, popularity, and skill, and the tattoo costs range from piece to piece based on the size, location, and details.

Some massive and insanely cool designs may put you a couple of grand out of pocket, but they’re definitely worth the investment.

Once you get one tattoo, you’ll be totally hooked, trust me.