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Tattoo Pricing – What Does It Cost To Get A Tattoo?

Updated on May 9, 2011

If you want to get a tattoo and are wondering how much it'll cost, the only way to get a definitive answer is to find a design you like, and contact several tattoo shops for a quote. The reason for this vagueness is that there are many factors which influence tattoo prices, so it's really impossible to give a definitive answer without knowing your circumstances.

Here are some of the things you'll need to think about when choosing a tattoo, as all of them have an influence on the final price.

1. How complex is the design?

It stands to reason that more complex tattoo designs will cost more, as they involve more time and effort on the part of the tattoo artist. You might even find that a small tattoo that is complex in design will cost more than a much larger one that is more simple. In some cases, it may be possible to have a complex design simplified, so it costs less.

If your design involves lots of different colours, this may drive the cost up as well. This isn’t because the coloured ink costs more, but because more time is involved in creating a multicoloured tattoo.

2. How large is the tattoo?

Another obvious factor that will affect the price of your tattoo is its size. Larger tattoos generally cost more, again because they involve more time and effort.

3. How in demand is the artist?

Some tattoo artists will charge more than others, depending on their level of skill and experience. Some artists have also acquired a great reputation, and this gives them the ability to set higher prices - artists like this will often have a long waiting list as well, which will at least give you the chance to save up the money for your tattoo!

Less experienced artists will generally charge lower prices. This can be a good thing for you if the artist is skilled, but not so good if he or she lacks both skill and experience. Remember that you’ll be stuck with your tattoo for a long time to come, so don't automatically look for the cheapest artist, as you'll often get what you pay for.

4. Where is the tattoo shop located?

Another factor that influences tattoo costs is the location of the tattoo shop. In some areas of the country, the cost of living is higher, and businesses must adjust their prices accordingly. Some areas and tattoo parlors also have a ‘trendy’ reputation, and can get away with charging more. Generally though, you'll find that many shops within a given location have a roughly similar pricing structure.

5. Do you want a custom design?

If you want a completely unique tattoo design, you’ll have to pay extra for the artist to design it for you from scratch. On the other hand, if you've found some existing tattoo flash with the design you want, this will cost a bit less.

If you don't want a commonplace tattoo, but can't afford or don't want to pay for a completely custom design, one option is to check out the premium tattoo design sites on the internet such as Chopper Tattoo.

Another option is to ask the artist to modify an existing design for you; this will cost a bit more, but probably not as much as having a tattoo designed completely from scratch.

6. What is the pricing structure of the tattoo shop?

Another thing to be aware of is that some tattoo shops charge by the hour, whereas others charge a fixed fee which is dependent on the design you select. Some combine both models, and charge a fixed price for smaller tattoos, and an hourly rate for larger or more complex ones.

You'll find most shops have a minimum rate which applies regardless of how small or simple the tattoo you want is. This is to ensure that they can cover their fixed costs.

Be aware too that in some areas it’s customary to tip tattoo artists, so you’ll need to factor this in when calculating the price of your tattoo.

As you can see, there are lots of things that can affect tattoo pricing, and the only way to find out exactly how much the tattoo you have in mind will cost is to call up several tattoo shops and get some quotes. Just remember to avoid any temptation to go for the cheapest option automatically, without checking out the artist's work first - a tattoo is an investment in your body, so it is worth paying extra to get the best quality tattoo you can.

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