How much do tattoos cost?

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Price guide

$30 - $4,000

low

$30

median

$150

high

$4,000

Low, median and high bar chart distribuiton

How much do tattoos cost?

Tattoos are an ancient art form used to express a person’s identity, history, and style. Tattoos have become more popular in recent years, and the stigma against them in society and the workplace is lessening as more people are experimenting with ink art. However, getting a tattoo is a major decision, and one should think carefully before getting one done. 

One of the major contributing factors to getting a tattoo is the cost. Tattoos are not cheap. How much do tattoos cost in the US? Price can be based on a tattoo artist’s experience. An apprentice can charge around $30 to $150, whilst popular or celebrity artists can charge higher.

Tattoo size is also a factor. How much does a small tattoo cost? Small tattoos (no more than a few centimeters) can start at around $50, whilst pieces covering large areas of the body can cost $4000 or more. 

Tattoos aren’t only priced by the artist’s time and skill level. The design work is included in their hourly rate, and after-care products will be required. The price of after-care tattoo butter, tattoo sunscreen, and touch-ups to keep your art looking its best increase the lifetime cost. All of these factors and more should be considered to know your average tattoo cost before booking your appointment. 

Most tattoo design services on Airtasker are marked remote, meaning they can be completed from anywhere and digitally uploaded. Tattoo design services range from a simple sketch to a large custom piece. If you’re computing how much a half sleeve tattoo costs, make sure to include the fee for the design itself.

Before you get your amazing design inked, you should learn about the tattooing process and what costs you can expect before and after your appointment.

How tattoos are priced

Tattoos cost either by the piece or by the hour. Some artists will give you a firm quote on the piece based on size, especially if it is a wall piece that they can predict the time allotted. If you bring in a sketch or work with the artist to create one, they will likely give you a set price for the entire work. 

However, some tattoo designs are more complex, and prices are set by the hour. If you request a custom design (which is recommended by most artists), the time it takes to design will likely be included in the hourly rate. 

Tattoo retouching, a more organic process, may be set by an hourly rate, so the artist can work with you to give you the best service. Don’t expect the initial half sleeve tattoo cost to be the same as adding more to make a full sleeve. Extending a current tattoo may also require a more flexible, organic process that is often priced by the hour.

Factors that influence tattoo price

Tattoos are not a commodity. Prices range from shop to shop. A simple design can be priced differently by two artists in the same shop or two shops in the same area.

These factors come into play when an artist gives you their rate:

Artist’s experience

An apprentice or new artist will likely only charge $30 or even less per hour because they want the experience. An established artist with an extensive portfolio will charge more per hour because of their reputation, as well as the likelihood of a full schedule. Unless your design is simple and the apprentice has been vouched for by other artists, it is best to choose the more experienced artist.

Color and complexity

A basic black design with little detail (such as tribal tattoos or script) is more affordable because it will be easier for the artist to create. A more realistic, colorful, or complex design with intricate details will cost more because the artist must put in more time to draw the sketch and use more colors to create the finished tattoo.

Body placement and size

Some areas of the body are harder to tattoo than others. For example, the arms, legs, and back are easier to tattoo than the hand, neck, or face. A tattoo on the hand or face will cost more because they are more visible and are only done by experienced artists. The size of the tattoo also influences the price. The bigger the tattoo, the longer it will take the artist to complete. How much a sleeve tattoo costs may be way higher than getting a name tattooed on your shoulder.

Artist or studio popularity

Celebrity artists or artists with a great social media following often charge more for their services; the same goes for the shop. Choosing these artists and shops are a personal preference. However, you should always look for a reputable shop with plenty of good reviews online and a clean, professional environment. 

How to find the right tattoo artist for the right price

With many services, finding the most affordable alternative is ideal. This is not the case for tattoos. The art will be on your body for the rest of your life, so it’s imperative to choose quality over price in this instance. 

Good tattoos require you to save money and patiently wait until you find the right artist. For something this permanent, it’s worth the wait to find the right match.

These are some things you should look for when choosing a tattoo shop and artist:

Workplace sanitation

Do the artists clean the benches before each customer is tattooed? Do they change needles in front of the customer? Do they wear gloves? Does the waiting area look clean? An unclean environment is the easiest way to get your tattoo infected (remember, it is an open wound). Don’t take chances in a less than sterile environment, even if the shop gives you a better price. 

Friendly and helpful staff

Getting a tattoo can be intimidating. If you’re nervous, don’t worry. No one ever got their first tattoo and wasn’t afraid! The staff should be conscious of this and help answer all of your questions before your appointment. If they are rude, unprofessional, or make you feel uncomfortable in any way, find another tattoo place that treats you with respect. 

Artist compatibility and experience

Someone is putting their art onto your skin, so you want that person to be one you like, trust, and admire the work of. View several artists’ portfolios and meet with them before going in for the appointment. Knowing how long they’ve been in the profession is also important. You want to choose someone with patience, experience, and a light hand. Yes, tattoos do hurt, but they shouldn’t be unbearable. A more experienced artist will charge more, so be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars on a quality piece. 

After-care advice

Tattoo aftercare is a major factor in its longevity and your health. If you don’t care for your tattoo properly, the ink will bleed out and fade and your skin may get infected. Ask about aftercare instructions. If the artist gives you vague or no instructions, go somewhere else. It is also important to invest in quality aftercare products, including aftercare butter and tattoo sunscreen. Factor these products into the price to get a more accurate estimate of the total cost of a tattoo.

Helpful first-time tattoo hints

The first time you get a tattoo can be intimidating, but there is no reason it can’t be a rewarding experience. These four hints will keep you on the right track to getting a great first tattoo:

Start small

A full sleeve may look super cool, but the longer you’ve been collecting tattoos, the more valuable you’ll realize that “real estate” is. You have your whole life to ink your body. Don’t be afraid to dip your toes in and learn first. 

Save for the best

Shopping for a tattoo service is like shopping for a car due to its permanence and should be treated just as seriously. You may want that tattoo now and have a free weekend coming up, but if you can’t afford a good artist, then wait. It’s better to exercise patience than choose a less than stellar artist and hate the design you had once dreamed of. Plus, if you want it that badly, you can wait a few weeks or months. It will be there for much longer.

Speak up

In the end, your artist will likely ask if it looks okay. They aren’t asking simply for an ego boost, they want to know you’re happy with your new skin. If you want to change something in the design, ask for it while you’re still there, rather than waiting a few weeks only to go back. It will save everyone a lot of time.  

Smile! 

Getting a tattoo can be intimidating, and you’ve likely had your doubts about it. But, once you can proudly wear that ink every day, you’ll be champing at the bit for your next appointment. 

Airtasker helps connect you to hundreds of tattoo artists and shops to get quotes and designs for your next tattoo. All you have to do is post a task, read reviews from reputable service providers, and choose the right one for you. Click here to post a task on Airtasker, and take one step closer to getting an amazing tattoo.

Price guide

$30 - $4,000

low

$30

median

$150

high

$4,000

Low, median and high bar chart distribuiton

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