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How Much Do Tattoos Cost?

In the following article we will try to explain in the simplest possible way all the variables that affect the price of a tattoo.

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It is an apparently simple question, but the answer is complicated. Each tattoo is a world, and consequently so is the price. Why? We will try to explain it to you.

The price of a tattoo is calculated based on the time it takes to perform. And the time it takes to make a tattoo depends on its complexity, size, location, artist fee and type of design ownership.

1. The complexity of the tattoo

Some tattoos are very complex to carry out. Each style is different, and two tattoos of similar size but different styles will not take the same time.

Take this tattoo as an example:

It is not as laborious to perform as this other, although they are similar in size:

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The first tattoo is simple, with a minimalist style, and any seasoned professional tattoo artist should be able to do it in a relatively short period of time. The second tattoo is much more complex, and will take much longer than the first. In addition to this, not all tattoo artists have the required skills to make it a reality. Consequently, the price of the first will be (or will tend to be) lower than the second.

Others mistakenly claim that color tattoos are more expensive. Color tattoos usually take longer, which is why the price of a color tattoo is usually higher than the equivalent in black or black and grey. But artists do not usually have a different price for color tattoos, they just take a little longer.

2. The dimension of the work

The size of the tattoo also affects the price, obviously. Can the same tattoo artist charge different prices for two tattoos of the same size? Yes, it all depends on the number of details of one and the other. One can take half an hour, while another tattoo of the same size can take 5 hours.

To compare the price of a tattoo with another of a different size, tattoos must have the same style and complexity level. If a small tattoo is worth 50 dollars, a five times larger tattoo will be worth around five times more only if they share the same attributes. If it is a different style, the price will have nothing to do.

A large tattoo of one style can take much less time than a small tattoo of a different style. Which of the following two tattoos do you think will take longer to complete?

3. Part of the body where the tattoo will be performed

The body is an irregular canvas. Making a tattoo on certain parts of the body is more difficult than others. Making the same tattoo will take more or less time depending on the part of the body, and this translates into a higher price.

Tattoo artists do not usually have a price list with every part of the body, but many tattoo artists will refuse to tattoo certain areas, because they will not be able to do a good job or because they just don't want to deal with certain areas for different reasons.

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4. Tattoo artist fee

The artist usually sets his fees based on his location, skills, quality of work, experience and reputation. Some artists are more skilled, more talented, have more experience and are better located than others, so their rates will be higher.

Technically everyone has an hourly rate. The difference is that some artists, estimating what it will take to make the tattoo once you explain the idea, the size and the location of the tattoo, will estimate a price and will charge you the agreed amount, regardless of the time it will take.

These are usually the most common types of rates:

  • Hourly rate, with a minimum. For example: $150 per hour with a minimum of $100. If the tattoo takes 10 minutes, you have to pay the minimum $150. In some cases, the minimum is above the hourly rate. For example, when the minimum is $400 and the hourly rate is $150, if the tattoo takes 2 hours, it will cost you $400. If it takes 3 hours, $450.
  • Hourly rate, including initial rate. For example: $200 per hour with a minimum of $500. If the tattoo takes 2 hours, the price would be $900. This is not usually the case, only among some high profile tattoo artists.
  • Fixed rate, per piece. For example: $1000 for a tattoo on the forearm. This is usual among tattooers who will only work a style.

Now, on average, what is the fee for a tattoo artist? Well, here's some useful information:

  • Generally, if you want to get a simple tattoo (a little heart, a name, etc.) it usually costs the minimum, between $50 and $100. Although a reputable studio in a city center where the rent is very high, such as New York, can easily have a minimum of $400.
  • According to various surveys, a tattoo artist in the United States charges around $150 an hour, on average. In Europe, 150 euros.
  • Reputable tattoo artists, in addition to having very long waiting lists, often charge between $200 and $500 an hour, and many of them only accept large jobs that need several sessions (a sleeve, a back-piece, etc.).

5. The ownership of the design

Another factor that can affect the price of a tattoo is its design, especially if it's a custom design. And we say it can affect, because that depends on the type of property agreement you have reached on that work.

Generally, when it comes to a personalized tattoo, it is the same tattoo artist who is usually in charge of making the design that will later be tattooed. However, when you pay for a tattoo, you do not usually acquire the intellectual property rights of the drawing, which remain with the creator, the tattoo artist in this case.

Due to the artistic evolution registered by this practice, an intellectual property agreement is becoming common and recommended for all those who want to get a personalized tattoo. On the other hand, this can considerably increase the price of your tattoo, especially if it is a reputed artist.

Anyway, this is an extremely complex matter, and we have decided to dedicate a future article to it.

Now that I know all this, how do I estimate what the tattoo I want is worth?

Well, the only way to know what your tattoo will cost is by asking the tattoo artist you have chosen. Explain the idea, the size, the part of the body where you want the tattoo, and most will give you an estimated price.

You should know that this price may not be the final one. If at the last minute you want a change, or if you are going to be writhing in pain and you are going to move a lot and you do not let the artist work continuously, or if you are going to be asking for a few minutes of rest every little time, the price will increase. If your ability to bear pain is low, it is not the artist's problem. If there are setbacks, the tattoo will take longer, and the price will rise.

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