How Much Do Tattoos Cost? Tattoo Pricing & Budgeting Chart | Painful Pleasures Community

How Much Do Tattoos Cost? Tattoo Pricing & Budgeting Chart

Tattoo pricing can vary based on size, time spent tattooing, and other factors. Use this as a guide when considering your budget.
by amber Last Updated: November 8, 2022 2

tattooed and pierced woman with glasses using a pent tablet to draw a mandala

It can be easy to forget that tattoos are costly when you’re daydreaming about your next session. Or, if you’re a tattoo newbie, you’re probably asking yourself, how much do tattoos cost, really? But tattoo pricing is highly variable depending on a lot of factors. The only true way to know how much your tattoo will cost is to communicate with your chosen artist. Nevertheless, we’re here to help you understand when it comes to the price of your tattoo.

Remember, each aspect of the design will ultimately affect the final price, so it’s important to consider your budget while proposing ideas for your custom piece. If you approach your desired artist with clear ideas in mind, they’ll be able to provide a quote for the tattoo and a draft of the potential design.



Professional tattoo artists have different methods for determining price. Some charge a set rate per hour, and their hourly rate typically depends upon a number of factors, such as where they work and how in-demand their services are. Artists charge anywhere between $50-$400 per hour, with most somewhere between $100-250 per hour. 

Some charge a flat rate per piece. In this case, your artist will usually provide a cost estimate based on the size and details of your custom design. Things like color, line work, and detail can all influence the cost estimate. Some artists who specialize in lettering will even charge a per letter rate. 


Ever wondered why some shops have a minimum fee per tattoo? Usually, this fee ranges from $50 to $100. That’s because even the smallest, simplest tattoos have to cost a certain amount to cover the cost of all the materials involved. It costs money for artists to set up their station and use all their supplies like inks and needles. So, a minimum cost is almost always necessary. 


It’s no secret that things have gotten pricier lately. And, like everything else, the cost of tattoos is affected by inflation. When the cost of living and cost of tattoo supplies increases, artists must increase their rates as well. In 2022, you can expect even the smallest, simplest tattoos to cost at least $50-100. A palm-sized tattoo usually runs between $200-500, and medium to large tattoos (about 8”) usually range from $300-600. Half sleeves typically start around $1,000 and full sleeves often range from $2,000-$4,000.


But size isn’t the only factor that influences a tattoo’s price (although it is a big one). For obvious reasons, the bigger a tattoo, the bigger the price tag. That’s because larger tattoos take more of the artists’ time and require more ink, needles, and other materials. Check out our pricing chart below to see average pricing per size and artist.


Black and gray flower tattoo

Again, you can only determine the exact price of your tattoo by getting an estimate from your chosen artist. In general, though, this chart provides an approximate range of tattoo prices you can expect to see based on artist experience, tattoo size, and the time it takes to perform that tattoo:


Tattoo Prices Chart Beginner Artist
(Apprentice ~2 years)
$50–$120 hourly
Average Artist
$50–$100 hourly
Experienced Artist
$100+ hourly
Popular Artist
$150–$400 hourly
Small Tattoos
Less than 1 hour
$50–$80 $50–$100 $75–$125 $125+
Palm-Sized Tattoos
2–4 hours
$100–$350 $150–$450 $200–$500+ $250+
Medium Tattoo
4–8 hours
$200-$350 $300–$400 $400–$600+ $600+
Large Tattoo
8+ hours
Uncommon for beginning artists; varies according to shop and artist $500–$2,000 $1,000–$4,000+ $1,500+



As you shop around for tattoo price estimates, keep in mind that any elements you want to include in your new custom tattoo will increase the final price tag. More ink, more color, more detail — each of these requires more time and patience on behalf of the artist and more money from you.


It goes without saying that experienced, highly skilled artists (usually) charge more than novices. Rookie artists often begin with lower rates — around $50–80 per hour — as they work to build their portfolio. Artists with at least a year or two under their belt will usually charge a minimum of $100 per hour, and artists who have been at it for several years often charge between $150–250. 

But those prices aren’t just because of an artist’s experience. In reality, it’s skill, reputation, and demand that drive an artist’s prices. Those things often come with experience, allowing artists who have been in the game longer to charge higher rates. But there are always exceptions, especially in the age of social media.  An artist who produces amazing tattoos and has built a large social media following can command top-end rates within just a few years. So even if your desired artist is relatively new, if they have a huge following and high demand, their rates will reflect that. Similarly, an artist who’s been tattooing for decades but produces low-quality work will find it hard to build the reputation and portfolio that allows them to charge higher rates.


Artists located in big cities can afford to set higher rates than small town shops. This is in large part due to a city artist’s potential for a massive customer base. It’s also not uncommon for talented artists to move to urban areas so they can attract more clients and build a portfolio more quickly. For this reason, many high-profile artists live in urban areas, driving their rates up even further.

Tattoo conventions also influence price, and artists usually charge somewhat higher rates than usual at a convention. If you’re planning to get tattooed at a convention, remember to book with the artist in advance and brush up on tattoo convention etiquette.


As you set your budget and design your tattoo, consider your tattoo priorities. As we mentioned, detailed tattoo designs come with a higher price tag. You’re paying an artist to take their time and tattoo with care, so be prepared to invest your own time and money. If you have your heart set on certain aspects of the design, you may have to compromise on other elements, like color, in order to stay within your budget. Certain styles are incredibly detailed by nature, and the price point reflects it.

You’ll also pay more for custom-designed pieces vs. a flash tattoo. Flash tattoos are designs that are pre-drawn and ready to be tattooed, and they’re almost always small to medium in size. You can find them displayed in the shop or ask to see an artist’s personal flash book. While flash tattoos are usually designs that are fairly popular with the public, you can still find creative designs you love, especially if you know you already like the artist’s typical style. If you want to be tattooed by a certain artist but can’t afford a custom piece, choosing one of their flash designs can be a budget-friendly way to sit in their chair.



As a rule, color tattoos are more expensive than black and gray tattoos. While the cost of ink is a factor here, time and effort are the real driving factors for the higher price point. Because color tattoos are more complicated and time-consuming than black and gray, the cost of full color tattoos can add up quickly. Tattoos with complex color work like gradient takes even more time and skill…

so you can expect an even higher price.


Tattoo client with hyperrealistic black and gray flower tattoo on elbow

Tattoo above by Christian Naccari

Artists must take greater care when tattooing in highly sensitive areas. Consequently, the process will move slower than it does on other parts of the body that are easier to tattoo. Bony body parts like the ribs, feet, hands and areas with a plethora of nerve endings like the face, neck, and wrists will be the most sensitive. Expect to pay more for tattoos in these locations than you would for a similar tattoo on a leg or arm. 

Get ready to get tattooed 

In order to get the ink you really want, communicating your budget constraints with your tattoo artist is key. Tell your artist what you can afford, and together you can create a design and a timeline that works for both of you. Having this discussion in the very beginning will help keep your expectations realistic and give you a chance to get quotes from multiple artists. While the final cost will be a major determining factor in choosing your artist and shop, remember that cheaper isn’t always better, especially when it comes to tattoos. Make sure you’re working with a reputable shop and check out tips for choosing the right shop for other helpful advice on making your final decision. Oh and don’t forget to account for the artist’s tip as well!

For more helpful information on tattoos, check out our PainfulPleasures Infocenter and blog.


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Kathy Hamlin says:

I was wondering roughly how much a dream catcher with my 3 daughters names hanging in with feathers would cost? I’d like it on the inside of my left 4 arm?

Bryan Hartle says:

I would like to a special forces tat

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