Tattoo Prices: What Should You Expect?

tattoo cost

Tattoo prices can get a little confusing at times. Every artist will charge differently: some by the hour and some by the piece. So exactly how much will your tattoo cost? Let’s look deeper into all the factors at play when you get quoted a tattoo price by your favorite artist.

The Tattoo Artist

The biggest factor when it comes to tattoo prices is going to be the tattoo artist. That seems painfully obvious right? Well, it’s more than just the artist's whims that come into play here; It depends on the artist's skill and experience.

If your tattoo artist is fresh out of their apprenticeship then you are likely not going to have to pay as much then, say, if the artist is a grizzled vet with 15+ years experience tattooing. Now, just because a tattoo artist has been tattooing a long time does not mean that the artist is more talented than the newer/cheaper tattoo artist.

According to Bill Johnson, the executive office director of the Alliance of Professional Tattooists, most professional tattoo artists charge an hourly rate of $75 to $150 dollars.

Some more experienced artist might charge you a fixed amount by estimating how many hours it will take to complete the particular tattoo you are requesting.

Most tattoo artists will also charge a minimum for a tattoo. They do this so they won't lose money on a tattoo that only takes them 20-30 minutes to complete. See, tattoo artists not only pay the shop they are working at 40-60% of what they charge you for the tattoo, but they are also responsible for their own supplies—which can add up pretty quickly.

Where You Want The Tattoo

Some parts of the body are easier to tattoo while other parts—like the lower back—are more difficult to tattoo. Some tattoo artists will charge more for the more difficult areas. This is something to keep in mind when deciding on the tattoo you would like to get.

The Location Affects Tattoo Prices

The location of where you are going to get a tattoo also plays a vital role in how much your tattoo will cost. It pretty much correlates with how the geographical location of a tattoo artist will affect their overall salary.

In your higher end, urban cities your tattoo is going to cost more than if you were to get tattooed in a one horse town in Wisconsin.

The Tattoo Shop

The reputation of a tattoo shop will help determine what a tattoo artist is going to charge you. For instance, if you wanted to get a tattoo shop at High Voltage (Kat Von D’s Tattoo Studio) you’re going to be paying a lot more than you would at an average studio

Tipping a Tattoo Artist

A tattoo artist is one of the few jobs that expect tips. This tip should be a minimum of 15%, but usually, if the tattoo artist did a great job the tip should be closer to 20-25% of the cost of the tattoo. This should factor into your planning when you are trying to see how much tattoo you can afford.

You Get What You Pay For!

tattoo prices

Photo by Martin Soulstealer (License)

If you are getting a cheap tattoo or a tattoo from an artist that doesn’t have professional training and is just tattooing on their couch, then chances are you're not going to get the quality of tattoo that you would from a professional tattoo artist in a studio.

This is not always the case and doesn't mean you should expect a high-quality tattoo just because you are paying more to be tattooed in a tattoo studio.

Always ask to see a tattoo artists portfolio!

So How Much Will My Tattoo Cost?

Tattoo prices are are going to depend on your tattoo artists skill and experience, where you are trying to get tattooed, the shop's location and reputation. Also, don’t forget to factor in the tattoo artists tip!

It’s always a good idea to shop the design you want around to several different tattoo artists and shops. However, don’t just pick a tattoo artist because of the price they quote you. Do your research and look through your tattoo artist's portfolio before making an educated decision on something that is going to be on your body for life!

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