When buying a tattoo, you’re essentially paying for an artist to create a work, and supplying your body as their canvas. With that in mind, it is hard to give an exact figure for the potential cost of a tattoo. Prices may start small, but quickly spiral into hundreds if your design warrants it, due to size or complexity.
To give you some indication of what you might be getting yourself into, the below list shows a few of the factors that might influence the scale of your final bill. Of course, this is no substitute for a quote from an artist, but it should give you some sense of the cost.
1. The size of the tattoo is the first point of expense. A huge tattoo down your entire back, or a ‘sleeve’ that covers your arm, will always be a lot more expensive than a small picture on your shoulder. You are paying for the artist’s time and most will charge an hourly rate, especially for bigger jobs. The same is true if your design has a lot of intricate detail.
2. The amount of design work required by the artist is another pricing influence. If you select an existing design from their portfolio, this will be cheaper than something new or heavily customised which they have to design from scratch, as the artist is entitled to bill you for any hours spent on this. Speak to your artist about the specifics.
3. The placement of the image could also play a role, as some areas are harder to tattoo than others. A curved area like the lower back, or anywhere that requires extra care and attention, could be expensive.
4. Less obviously, the number of colours used can be a factor, as having to apply more different inks will increase the duration of your session.
5. Finally, you should keep in mind that you usually get what you pay for in tattoo art, as in most fields. Speak to a number of artists to get a quote for your specific design and you’ll invariably find that some are a lot cheaper, but since you will be stuck with the results of this transaction for the rest of your days, it could be worth paying a bit more to avoid ending up with any regrets.
The above should give you an idea whether your brilliant tattoo idea will be cheap as chips or a savings-crusher. If you decide to go ahead and need a more precise quotation, contact your tattoo artist of choice and ask any questions that are troubling you. The trick, as often happens, is to strike a balance between prohibitively expensive and dangerously cheap.