So you’re thinking of getting a tattoo, and want to know how much do tattoos cost? The answer is, it depends! Speaking very generally, you’ll normally be looking at paying $50 and upwards for a tattoo, with many running into hundreds of dollars – or even thousands for complex designs from in-demand artists. It’s difficult to be more precise than this, because there are so many factors which influence tattoo pricing. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Hourly Rate vs Fixed Fee

Firstly, the price of your tattoo will be influenced by whether the tattoo shop you go to charges an hourly rate or a fixed fee. Sometimes you’ll find that tattoo studios will charge a fixed fee for a smaller tattoo, but larger, more complex designs are charged by the hour. This isn’t always the case however, so you’ll need to call the shop you have in mind and find out how they structure their pricing.

Minimum Charges

Most tattoo studios will have a minimum charge irrespective of the size or complexity of the tattoo you want, so you might find that even if you only want an extremely small, simple tattoo, you end up paying what may seem to be a high price.

This is unavoidable really, because the shop has to cover their fixed costs, which include paying for equipment, time spent sterilising equipment and other factors that remain the same regardless of the size of the tattoo. So don’t expect tattoo pricing to be completely proportional to the design you want.


tattoo designAnother factor that can influence the cost of your tattoo is the colours contained in your design. The fact that a tattoo design is brightly coloured doesn’t necessarily make it more expensive than a monochrome version, but in practice colour tattoos can be pricey, because more time is involved in their creation, due to the necessity of switching between different inks.


The location of your tattoo will also influence its cost. Some parts of the body are easier to tattoo than others, thus influencing the amount of time it takes and the amount of work required by the artist. Some artists may also charge more for placing tattoos in areas of the body such as the genital region (assuming they do this sort of work at all).


The size of your tattoo is another factor that’ll influence its cost. For large tattoos, prices will obviously be higher, everything else being equal. These use more ink, and take longer to complete.


The complexity of your tattoo also plays a major part in how much you have to pay for it. More complex designs will be more expensive, and you might end up paying more for a small yet complex tattoo than for a larger one that’s less intricate. If there’s a design you like that is going to cost a lot because it is so complex, and you want to save money, you might consider asking the artist to simplify it somewhat.

Custom Designs

Getting a custom tattoo design drawn up from scratch will also be a lot more expensive than going with off-the-peg tattoo flash. Not all custom tattoo designs are created equal either, as the price you will pay will depend to a large extent on the skill and experience level of the artist, as well as the size and complexity of the design.

If you want a unique tattoo design, but don’t want to pay custom prices, one option might be to find some tattoo flash that you like and have the artist modify it into a unique version. This will cost a bit extra, but is unlikely to be as expensive as having a design created from scratch.

If you don’t want the same tired old designs that seem to line the wall of so many tattoo shops, yet you don’t want to pay for a custom design either, try visiting one of the premium online tattoo galleries such as Chopper Tattoo, which offers a very wide range of top quality tattoo designs that you’re not going to find everywhere else.

Artist Skill & Experience

The prices of tattoos also vary according to the skill and experience level of the tattoo artist. As in other fields, those with the greatest skill levels or the most experience will command premium prices (and may have a long waiting list to boot).

You may be able to get a cheap tattoo from a new artist, but you need to consider whether their lack of experience might affect your chances of getting the quality tattoo that you want. Again, this is an individual matter, and you should choose your artists on their own merits, not just according to the prices they charge.


It’s pretty common for tattoo parlours in the same geographical area to have similar pricing structures. However, the prices of tattoo shops in different areas can vary quite dramatically, so the cost of your tattoo will also depend on where you live (or where you’re going to get your tattoo done). It may even be worth your while to travel to a cheaper location if that means you get a tattoo of equal quality for less, although of course you’ll need to factor in travelling time and costs as well.


In many places, it’s also standard to tip the tattoo artist. The percentage may vary from around 5% to 20% or more, and will obviously depend on how happy you are with the work, and the quality of service you received while at the shop. So you should be aware of the tipping customs in your area, and be prepared to add a percentage on to the quoted price when figuring out how much your tattoo will cost.

As you can see, there are lots of factors that affect tattoo prices, so it’s pretty much impossible to say that X type of tattoo will cost Z dollars. It’s generally true that you get what you pay for, and more expensive tattoos are more likely to look good and really cheap ones. On the other hand, expensive isn’t better in every case, so before choosing a tattoo design and artist, you should make sure that you see samples of their previous work, and are happy with the kind of standard that they produce.

If you find an artist whose work you’re happy with and budget is an issue for you, it’s worth waiting longer if necessary, in order to save the money you need, rather than going for a cheaper tattoo elsewhere. Whatever you do, make sure that you go to a professional tattoo shop, and resist any temptation to get a bargain basement tattoo from an unqualified or inexperienced artist. Remember that your health is at stake here, and you’ll also be living with the tattoo for the rest of your life (or paying a lot of money to have it removed), so it’s worth making the investment to get one that will not only look great, but will be safe as well.

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