What Is the Price of a Tattoo? We Consulted with a Tattoo Artist

What Is the Price of a Tattoo? We Consulted with a Tattoo Artist

A tattoo is about as permanent as it gets for beauty and body art, so you’ll want to be as prepared as possible before sitting in the chair. You’re not alone if you’ve decided to get your first (or fifth) tattoo. According to research, over 47% of adults aged 18 to 35 have at least one tattoo, with roughly 30% of all Americans having a tattoo.

You’ve finished your fair share of research on the greatest parlor, artist, and design if you’re about to join in on the fun. However, one aspect of the tattoo designing process that is sometimes disregarded is the cost. While the overall cost varies depending on the place on the body and the artist’s level of experience, there is a basic price range to expect based on the sort of tattoo you want.

To minimize sticker shock when you arrive for your appointment—and so you can best plan your tattoo to fit your budget—we chatted with New Jersey-based tattoo artist Nancy Rose McLaughlin. We did some investigating to find out exactly how much your new ink will cost. Rose explains how much tattoos cost depending on the size, location of the body, and design complexity.

The Fundamentals

In general, all tattoo shops will start at a low price, and this is done to ensure that the artist is adequately compensated. So, if you’re searching for something really simple and little (like a heart outline), expect to spend between $50 and $200. (depending on where you live).

However, as McLaughlin points out, “It depends entirely on the artist. The more experience a tattoo artist has and the more clients they have, the more they may charge.”

She claims that most shops in the NYC metro region have a $150 minimum and go up from there. “Size, placement, duration, and detail of the sculpture are all considerations in cost,” she notes, adding that “some artists will offer you a flat rate for the item, and some will charge by the hour.” It’s critical to ask these questions before scheduling an appointment.

Complete sleeves and full back pieces, as well as a full leg sleeve, take the longest and are the most labor, time, and cost-intensive, according to McLaughlin’s experience. They are among the most costly tattoos she has ever done. According to her, “It can take anywhere from two to three months for them to be completed. Depending on the client’s pain tolerance, one to two sessions are needed to outline, followed by two to three sessions for shading and color.”

Each shop will have a minimum cost—McLaughlin’s $60, while shops in bigger metro areas are more likely to charge $150 or more as minimums. “The tattoos are really simple black outlines like a heart, a star, or a four-leaf clover around that price,” Mclaughlin explains.

Another monetary consideration? The down payment. The majority of popular parlors will ask for a deposit to hold your appointment, which will be charged to your final bill. Now that you are aware of the basics, here are some approximate price ranges, broken down by location (bearing in mind that you’ll also need to tip your tattoo artist, which can range from 15 to 30% of the overall tattoo cost).

What Does It Cost to Get a Tattoo?


A full-sleeve tattoo is the most serious commitment you can make to getting inked. It spans from wrist to shoulder and includes designs and colors (if desired). It usually takes several hours and a lot of patience. These can cost anything from $2000 to $4000 for an outline, only to upwards of $6000 for a full-color version, as the artist may work for up to two days, either in large chunks or in many shorter sessions.

Back to the core

This tattoo will normally span your entire back, from the bottom of your neck to your waist, and will cost about the same as a full sleeve. If you want something sophisticated, colorful, and detailed, the outlining will cost you between $2500-$5000, and the color filling in will cost you another $200. Keep in mind that you’ll be working for roughly 40-55 hours overall. Thus keep that in mind while calculating prices.

Consider going slowly and piece by piece to keep costs down.


A forearm is half the length of a full sleeve and less than half the price, ranging from $250 to $1300 depending on size, design, and color. Full color will always be on the higher end of the price scale, while simple outlines or letters will be on the lower back.


These can take anywhere from six to ten hours to complete and can cost anywhere from $600-$2,000 depending on color, size, shading, and, of course, the artist’s level of expertise.


Are you thinking about getting a tattoo but aren’t sure if you’re ready to commit to anything large or colorful? Then a finger tattoo can be the perfect choice for you. These can be as low as $50-$100 for a simple outline design. However, if you want something with a lot of detail or razor-sharp lines, you may expect to pay up to $500. It largely depends on the design, the artist, and the location of the tattoo.


A chronic hip or thigh tattoo (about 1ft in length) can set you back around $500 for an outline-only tattoo or anywhere between $1500-$2000 for a full-color tattoo.

Tattoo on the Shoulder

A regular shoulder cap tattoo (imagine around the circular top of your shoulder) will start at about $800 or $850 and go up from there.


Depending on the details you want, an ankle tattoo might cost anywhere from $50 to $250.


If cosmetic tattoos are more your style, they are also available. Eyeliner, lip liner, and even freckles can cost anywhere from $500 to $3000, depending on the artist.

The Entire Body

There’s always the full-body tattoo if you want to commit to the world of tattoos. This might set you back $100,000 or more from head to toe. (Give or take a couple of thousand dollars.)

Tattoos on a Small Scale

A slight homage to tattoo artistry, such as a permanent wedding band, a little heart or cross, or another important symbol, will certainly set you back the shop’s minimum, whether $50 or $150.

Regardless of the type of tattoo you pick, be prepared before scheduling an appointment, especially before starting the procedure, which might mean the difference between liking your new tattoo and having buyers regret it. Good luck with your tattoos!