Thinking about getting a tattoo and wondering how much the average tattoo will cost? Before you make the all important decision, it is important that you know some factors in tattoo cost first.
The following will help you balance your finances and also help avoid those last minute surprises.
The price for professional quality tattoos are basically not cheap the typical cost of tattoos can start anywhere from £40 to £100 for the tattoo artist’s rate per hour.
What this means is that the longer your tattooist has to work on your tattoo, the higher the total cost will become. Also if your looking at custom work rather than stock flash the prices can rise to £50 to £250 per hour. Instead of pricing by the hour, some tattoo artists will charge per tattoo project. but with this kind of pricing it tends to be stock flash work and even the smallest tattoo can cost you £40 as that’s the lowest the tattooist may set-up for.
So if your question is how much does a standard small tattoo cost then this can be answered by set minimum charges of the tattoo shop, which we have established can start at £40 upwards. However, more often than not, even the most prominent tattoo artist in a top tattoo studio cannot quote you an exact price until you choose the design you want to ink on your body.
How much does a full sleeve tattoo (from wrist to shoulder) cost ?
Your question almost has the same answer as “How much is a sackful of groceries.?” It really depends on where you make your purchase and what’s in the sack, or sleeve.
Purchasing a tattoo is the same as making any other investment into art. Sometimes you can find an incredible artist at very reasonable rates and sometimes you can buy a polished turd for tourist prices.
Many people spend far too much on sleeves or other large scale tattoos that they will forever remain unhappy with by starting out with the exact same question you have. “How much?” Because with that mentality the next logical move once you receive an answer is to look for it somewhere else for less.
Price shopping for tattoos usually leaves you in a subpar artist’s chair receiving subpar art and tattoo services. Then what do you have? A sleeve that you're unhappy with. After a few years of looking at other sleeves that are far better most people choose to go to another artist to try and salvage the bad decision they made years prior.
The smart ones have done research and decided on a competent artist at the second time, but… The truth of the matter is, at this point the tattooer is entering a fight with one arm tied behind their back. Cover ups and reworks never turn out the same quality as a tattoo that starts with blank skin. Success is determined by whether or not the tattoo looks better than it did before, not by completion of original intent.
I can assure you that the best way to get an answer to your question and a quality tattoo is to decide what you would like your sleeve to look like. Think style(i.e. Traditional Japanese or Americana, color or black and grey, realistic, geometric, etc.), think theme, think subject matter. Then spend hours and hours scouring the internet and social media sites at hundreds of hundred of tattooers work. This is a much easier task today than say 20 years ago when you physically had to travel shop to shop to look at portfolios.
Don't bother looking at the artists location, airplanes make the world a very small place, and when you find the artist that you want, I promise no distance is too great. You have your entire life to wear this tattoo and you shouldn’t sell yourself short. Make sure that every time you look at your forearm you're satisfied. Tattoos are the only thing you have with you for the rest of your life, everywhere you go until you die. It amazes me what some people will spend on shoes or holidays and then bargain shop for a tattoo.
After you have all of the above determined, contact the artist you’ve chosen and ask about their preferred method of appointment consultation. Please keep in mind that many quality tattoo artists eat sleep and breath their jobs so sometimes answering the emails takes a little time, especially older artists that have tattooed longer than the internet has been around. Many artists work 8-12 hours a day at the studio then go home to paint or draw for the following days/weeks, so sometimes you need a little patience and persistence.
During your consultation, after you've discussed your ideas you'll have the opportunity for “How much?”. But most artist prefer it if you're a wee bit smoother, as in “What’s your hourly rate?”, and “About how many sessions do you think this will take and how many hours will we be working per session?”. If this exceeds your projected budget this would be a good time to mention that and discuss other options. Be honest and upfront with what you have to spend. Most good artists that I know aren't crooks, they just want what they have determined their work is worth. Some adjust this by the laws of supply and demand and others keep a set rate their entire career.
Every artist is different, and as always in the art market it’s buyer beware. Do your homework before you purchase.
PROBABLY THE MOST POPULAR QUESTION WHEN IT COMES TATTOOING - IS IT PAINFUL? LOTS OF PEOPLE AVOID GETTING TATTOOED BECAUSE OF THE PAIN. SOME ARE GETTING USED TO IT, SOME ARE TRYING TO FIND SOME ANESTHETICS TO PREVENT THE PAIN, ESPECIALLY ON LONG SITTING SESSIONS. BUT HOWEVER, THERE IS NO A CORRECT ANSWER FOR THIS QUESTION. IT DEPENDS ON PEOPLE PAIN THRESHOLD AND IMMUNE SYSTEM. SOMETIMES A BIG ROLE PLAYS THE TATTOO PLACEMENT, SOME BODY AREAS ARE CAUSING MORE PAIN THAN OTHERS, E.G. STOMACH, BACK OF KNEES, ARMPIT, INSIDE OF ELBOW, NIPPLES, LIPS, INSIDE OF THIGHS AND GENITALS.
PROBABLY THE FIRST 60 SECONDS ON THE TATTOO CHAIR ARE USUALLY THE WORST, AND THEN WHEN YOU REALIZE IT'S JUST NOT THAT BAD, YOU CALM DOWN AND THE REST IS SMOOTH SAILING.
WHAT SCARES YOU?
THE NEEDLES MOVE IN AN UP-AND-DOWN MOTION, CAREFULLY PUSHING THE INK JUST BELOW THE SURFACE OF THE SKIN. THE DAMAGE TO YOUR SKIN IS SO MINIMAL THAT MANY PEOPLE DON'T BLEED AT ALL - OR VERY LITTLE. THE TATTOO ARTIST WILL ALSO BE CONSTANTLY WIPING UP YOUR SKIN TO CLEAN OFF ANY TRACES OF BLOOD, SO IT'S DONE IN A VERY CLEAN AND PROFESSIONAL MANNER. EXCESSIVE BLEEDING USUALLY ONLY RESULTS WHEN THE PATRON HAS BEEN DRINKING ALCOHOL OR TAKING SOME KIND OF BLOOD THINNER (LIKE ASPIRIN).
SO WHICH BODY AREAS HURT THE MOST?
NOT REALLY PAINFUL
UPPER ARM, FOREARM, CALF AND THIGH. FOR A 1ST TATTOO THESE ARE GREAT POINTS TO BEGIN YOUR INKED JOURNEY.
PAPER CUTS OR BLOWTORCH
CENTRE BACK, FRONT / SIDE OF THIGHS AND SHOULDERS. THIS IS ALSO NOT TOO BAD A START FOR YOUR FIRST TATTOO. THE SHOULDERS AND CENTRAL BACK REGION CAN BE AREA THAT REQUIRE QUITE A LOT OF MOVEMENT. THE SKIN ON THESE AREAS IS MUCH LOOSER MEANING IT TAKES LONGER TO TATTOO AND ALSO LONGER TO HEAL. ON AREAS THAT HAVE LOTS OF MOVEMENT SUCH AS THESE, REQUIRE MORE CARE ONCE A TATTOO IS COMPLETED. DUE TO THE THIGH AREA BEING QUITE A DENSE MUSCLE MASS AND ALSO QUITE TIGHT SKIN, IT MAY TEND TO BRUISE THE DAY AFTER. LESS COMFORTABLE THESE INCLUDE THE KNEES, ELBOWS, HANDS, HEAD, NECK, FEET, CHEST AND BACK OF THIGHS. BEGINNERS BEWARE OF STARTING AT THESE AREAS. YOU WOULD NEED TO BE DETERMINED TO HAVE TATTOOS HERE AS THE HIGH SENSITIVITY WOULD REQUIRE A LOT OF MENTAL FOCUS TO GET YOU THROUGH. THE POOR QUALITY OF SKIN ON BOTH THE KNEES AND ELBOWS WILL RESULT IN A VERY SLOW TATTOO PROCESS AND NERVES ARE VERY CLOSE TO THE SURFACE IN THESE AREAS. THIS COULD RESULT IN THE TATTOOING BEING UNBEARABLE FOR ANY LENGTH OF TIME FOR SOME PEOPLE. AS WITH THE ORANGE AREAS THESE TEND TO BE HIGH MOVEMENT AREAS AND WILL REQUIRE A LONGER HEALING TIMESCALE. YOU MAY FIND THAT TO ACHIEVE A GOOD SOLID COLOR, YOU MAY HAVE TO REPEAT THE TATTOO PROCESS ON THESE AREAS. AS A SIDE NOTE THE CHEST AREA ON MEN CAN BE MUCH MORE SENSITIVE TO PAIN THAN A WOMAN, YET DUE TO THE TIGHTER SKIN ON A MALE, THE TATTOO CAN BE COMPLETED QUICKER.
THE PAIN ARRIVES
AREAS INCLUDE HIPS, RIBCAGE, STOMACH, BACK OF KNEES, ARMPIT, INSIDE OF ELBOW, NIPPLES, LIPS, INSIDE OF THIGHS AND GENITALS. ARE YOU REALLY SURE YOU WANT TO GET THAT TATTOO? AS THESE AREAS CAN ELICIT CRYING, HALF FINISHED TATTOOS OR EVEN THE CUSTOMER PASSING OUT. THIS COULD JUST BE MORE THAN YOU MAY BE ABLE TO HANDLE. ALL OF THESE PURPLE AREAS ARE CONSIDERED BY MOST TO BE THE MOST PAINFUL AREAS TO BE TATTOOED. THE STRETCHY OR THIN SKIN OVER BONE ARE SLOW TO TATTOO, SOME OF THESE MAY REQUIRE MULTIPLE SESSIONS TO ACHIEVE SOLID COLOUR AND SMOOTH SHADING. HEALING CAN BE JUST AS PAINFUL AS RECEIVING THE TATTOO AND MAY REQUIRE A FEW DAYS OFF FROM YOUR REGULAR ACTIVITIES.
SOME USEFUL TIPS WHEN GETTING A TATTOO: