How Much Does a Tattoo Cost? Average Tattoo Prices

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Getting a tattoo can be thrilling, but there are many things to think about before choosing the perfect tattoo, such as the design, colors, and artist. One thing that we may overlook is the cost of getting a tattoo.

Tattoo prices are determined by various factors, and it is important to know the cost beforehand to avoid any surprises.

If you’re curious about tattoo prices, use this guide to help you out.

Factors that Affect Tattoo Prices

The cost of tattoos can vary greatly and it’s often surprising to see the prices. However, there are many things that determine the cost of a tattoo. Here are the main factors that affect tattoo prices:

– Design

The complexity of the design affects the price of the tattoo. This is because it involves the type of ink used, the time it takes to complete, the number of sessions required, and the skill level of the artist.

If the design is simple, the cost will generally be lower as the artist won’t need to spend as much time drawing it out compared to an intricate design.

close up tattoo complex design

– Colors

The cost of your tattoo is also influenced by the number of colors used. Generally speaking, the more colors you want, the more expensive the tattoo prices will be.

Many people assume that the cost of materials and ink is the reason for the higher cost, but the actual reason is the time and effort it takes for the artist to switch between colors and apply them to your tattoo.

Using more colors means the artist has to put in more work, which increases the price of the tattoo. This also applies to gradients and shading. Even if your tattoo is only black and grey, creating these effects takes a lot of time and expertise, which raises the cost of the tattoo as well.

closeup tattoo color

– Size

The size of the tattoo also affects tattoo prices. Generally, larger tattoos take longer to complete, which makes them more expensive.

Larger tattoos tend to have more intricate details and require more ink, which increases the amount of time an artist needs to complete them.

However, bigger doesn’t always mean pricier. Sometimes smaller tattoos have a lot of intricate details, which can make them more expensive than a large tattoo with a simple design.

tattoo prices small tattoo

– Placement

The cost of a tattoo is also influenced by its placement on the body.

Just like how certain places hurt more than others to get tattooed, some places are more expensive than others. There’s often an overlap between the two, and the more sensitive the area, the more expensive the tattoo will be.

Areas that are particularly sensitive, such as the ribs, wrists, feet, head, neck, and hands require the artist to be extra careful because of the numerous nerves and pain receptors present.

As a result, the artist may take longer to complete the tattoo, which increases the price.

tattoo placed on side chest

Read our article dedicated to tattoos and pain for a deeper dive into the topic.

– Tattoo Parlor Location

The cost of getting a tattoo can vary depending on the tattoo studio you choose. Different studios charge different prices due to a variety of factors, such as the expertise and popularity of their artists, their location, and their overhead costs.

Studios located in the heart of a big city are usually more expensive than those in more rural areas.

This is because the cost of doing business in a big city is often higher, with higher rent and other overhead costs that the studio must cover.

tattoo parlor in los angeles

– Artist Popularity

The cost of a tattoo is also influenced by the popularity of the artist. If the artist is in high demand and always booked up, they will typically charge more for their services.

An artist’s popularity can be influenced by a number of factors, including their location, social media presence, appearances on TV, and experience tattooing celebrities.

The more popular the artist is, the more they can charge for their services.

famous tattoo artists

Tattoo Prices: How To Price a Tattoo

If you’re still confused about tattoo prices, here’s a breakdown of how they are typically priced based on factors like the artist’s experience, hourly rates, and sessions.

– Artist Experience

An apprentice or beginner tattoo artist is usually less expensive than a more experienced one. However, there is a higher risk that your tattoo might not turn out as expected.

An established artist with 5 to 10 years of experience will cost more, but you can be more confident that your tattoo will turn out great. They can also create custom designs that suit your needs.

A popular artist that is highly sought after will charge a lot more due to their experience, time, and their status as a famous or in-demand artist.

tattoo artist working

– Hourly Rate

The hourly rate of a tattoo artist is directly influenced by their level of experience. The more experience they have, the higher the hourly rate.

The minimum charge is usually one hour, even if your tattoo only takes a few minutes. This is to cover the artist’s time spent preparing for the tattoo and consulting with you.

Cities like New York and Los Angeles usually charge more per hour due to their high demand and popularity.

tattoo asking working

– By the Session

If you choose a pre-designed tattoo (also known as a tattoo flash) that the artist has tattooed before, you might not have to pay by the hour. Instead, you’ll pay for the whole session.

For smaller tattoos, the artist may also choose to charge you for the whole piece instead of by the hour. The price will depend on factors like whether it’s custom-designed, picked from a design book, colored or not, and where on your body it will be placed.

Tattoo Pricing: Color ink vs Black Ink

When it comes to pricing tattoos, designs with color ink typically cost more than those with only black and grey ink.

As we stated above, this is because colored ink takes more time for the artist to change and mix colors while tattooing, which can add up for larger pieces.

It’s also worth noting that some colors tend to fade faster than others, such as red, yellow, and green. Proper tattoo aftercare can help prevent fading, but touch-ups may still be needed in the future, which adds to the cost of a colored tattoo.

close up tattoo color

How Much Does a Small Tattoo Cost?

On average, a small tattoo costs between $50 to $80 total and usually takes less than an hour to complete. Small tattoos are very popular because they have cool designs and don’t take too much time or planning.

tattoo price small tattoo on arm

Bottom Line

Now that you have a better understanding of the work and experience involved in tattooing, tattoo prices might make more sense.

In general, tattoo prices are based on the size of the tattoo and the experience of the artist. Bigger tattoos take more time, and experienced artists charge more for their creativity and skill.

When you get a tattoo, you’re paying for an artist’s time and expertise to give you the tattoo you want.

If you need help with your next tattoo, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions. We’re here to help and happy to answer any and all questions you may have.


How much is a 1 hour tattoo?

In 2023, the cost of a 1-hour tattoo in the US can range from $75 to $250, depending on factors like the artist’s experience, location, and design complexity. It’s important to discuss the price with the artist beforehand.

Is $2000 a lot for a tattoo?

It depends on the tattoo’s size, design complexity, location, and the artist’s expertise whether $2000 is a lot for a tattoo. $2000 may be considered expensive for a small or medium-sized tattoo but could be a reasonable price for a larger, complex design or a tattoo by a well-known artist. The worth of a tattoo is subjective, and what may seem expensive to one person may be a reasonable price for another.

How much is a tattoo in LA?

Typically, a small tattoo such as a heart or cross may cost between $80 to $200, while a medium-sized tattoo such as a traditional design could cost around $200 to $450. The hourly rate for hiring a tattoo artist is usually between $150 to $250, depending on the artist’s skill level and demand.

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