How Much Do Tattoos Cost?
One of the most common questions you'll overhear in a tattoo shop is the infamous, “how much does a tattoo cost?” If you've ever been guilty of asking this, you were most likely on the receiving end of a pair of rolling eyes, but don’t take it personally.
Why? Simply put, it's just too general of a question with no exact answer without conducting a formal consultation. Asking how much a tattoo costs is the equivalent to asking how much a car is. Without knowing the model, year and make, it would prove difficult to provide an informed answer without calling it a guess.
There are many variables that can cause the price of a tattoo to fluctuate. Listed below, you’ll find a breakdown with brief descriptions of major factors that are considered when estimating the dollar value of a tattoo.
The size of your piece will determine the general scope of work involved in the overall project, and in turn, impact every other component of your tattoo — from the complexity of the piece, to the most suitable artist to accommodate you.
Detail and intricacy require patience and skill for execution, and will determine the complexity of the tattoo. Realistic and geometric tattoos are often considered styles that consist of a high level of design, as opposed to subjectively less intricate styles, such as minimalism and simple linework.
There will always be obstacles when tattooing any part of the body, but some areas are more challenging and/or more time consuming than others.
For example, ribs generally require more time, as the body must be stretched into a position that makes it possible to execute the tattoo. This, in turn, enlarges the size of the tattoo, therefore increasing the amount of time it takes to complete.
Rates will often reflect the skill-level and experience of an artist. A newer artist may offer lower rates per piece or hour to compensate for experience and the opportunity to build their portfolio. On the other hand, an experienced artist may charge rates that reflect their experience and demand.
Shops will generally estimate the cost of your tattoo based on the design itself (and all of its encompassing factors, as listed above), or will charge the time it takes to complete the piece. Hourly rates are common practices and can be determined by asking your artist.
Shops that charge by the hour may have a specific hourly rate for all artists, or artists may choose to set their own individual hourly rates that reflect the quality of their work, and/or the amount of experience they have obtained within the tattoo industry.
So, before asking how much your tattoo idea will cost, do yourself a favour. Do your research and be prepared. Collect visual references and think about details such as placement and size. Schedule a consultation with an artist that reflects the style you’re gravitating towards and start the discussion. Not only will you get a more accurate quote but you’ll gauge whether the shop and artist is right for you.