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hcdmag tattoo price guideIf you’ve been searching for tattoo prices online, you’ll realize it’s hard to get a straight answer. Today I’ll try to answer the question everyone wants to know: how much does a tattoo actually cost?

Getting a tattoo is an exciting and emotional journey. You’ve probably been dreaming about your tattoo design for months or even years, and now you are ready to pull the trigger.

Of course, before you schedule your appointment, you’ll want to make sure you have enough cash to pay for it. That’s what I want to try to help you with in this article.

The first step in getting a tattoo is to schedule a free consultation with 2 or 3 tattoo shops in your area. During the consultation you’ll have the opportunity to talk to an artist, look at tattoo designs and discuss the cost.

This is a great time to review photos of their previous work. After looking a a few photos you’ll get a better idea of their quality and skill level.

If their ability doesn’t match up with the vision you have for your tattoo, don’t feel pressured to put down a deposit or make an appointment.

Deposit and Minimum Price

Speaking of deposits, before you can make an appointment you’ll need to put down a non-refundable deposit. For the majority of shops I’ve been to, the deposit ranges from $50 to $100. When you are finished with your session the deposit will be applied to the final cost of your tattoo.

On the other hand, if you get cold feet before your appointment and don’t show up, you’ll forfeit the deposit.

In addition to the deposit, you’ll want to ask your shop about their minimum pricing policy.

High quality shops usually have minimum prices of $80 or $100. So even if you want a teeny, tiny tattoo you’ll still pay around $100.

Price per Hour

When shopping around for the best tattoo prices, you’ll encounter a wide range of per hour prices. The industry standard is $150 per hour.

Prices may range greatly from shop to shop in your area. A shop I recently visited charges $175 per hour, whereas a friend of mine only charges $100 per hour.

I realize this can make it difficult to estimate how much your tattoo will cost. If you are trying to budget for your tattoo a few months out and are not yet ready for a consultation, I would set your estimated cost at $150 per hour.

For medium-sized tattoos that take less than two hours, your artist will probably quote you a flat fee upfront.

A Simple Tattoo Cost Estimate

After comparing prices with friends and talking to numerous shops, I’ve tried to put together a simple cost estimate. Based on the size of the tattoo and the price they paid, I’ve calculated a simple tattoo cost per square inch.

If you are trying to estimate the cost of a tattoo, I would use $10 per square inch as a guide.

That means a 6 inch by 6 inch tattoo (36 square inches) would cost $360.

A larger, 9×9 inch tribal tattoo (81 square inches) might cost around $810.

Don’t forget that even if you get a small tattoo you’ll still have to pay the minimum price as required by the shop – usually starting at $80.

Please note that this is only an estimate. You will need to set up a consultation with your tattoo artist to get an exact quote. However, I wanted to give you a rough estimate since it is so hard to find information about tattoo prices online.

Factors That Increase Tattoo Prices

tattoo artistSo we know that the minimum cost to get a tattoo will be around $100. And we also know that it will cost about $150 per hour for anything that takes longer than two hours.

But, what makes certain tattoos cost more than others?

There are four primary factors that increase tattoo prices. These include size, design, color and placement.

Size: The size of your tattoo is the primary driving factor of the cost. Larger tattoos cost more because they take more time to complete.

Although, you might be surprised what your tattoo artist can complete within an hour. I bet it will be much more than you thought.

Design: Another contributing factor to cost is the complexity of the design. If you want the tattoo filled with color or shaded, you’ll be spending more time in the chair.

Also, custom designed artwork usually takes longer than flash art because the artist may not have experience drawing your design.

Color: Simply put, single color tattoos cost less than multicolored pieces. Also, colored tattoos require filling which can be tedious and time consuming to complete.

Placement: Another cost factor that you may not have considered is the placement of your tattoo. Hard to reach places are more difficult to work with. That makes them more time consuming and costly.


As we’ve covered, there are a wide range of factors that influence tattoo prices. These include size, design, color and placement. Not to mention, minimum prices and the price per hour.

However, after reviewing the size and cost of a number of tattoos I was able to come up with a rough estimate. You can estimate that it costs around $10 per square inch to get a medium to large tattoo.

Also, don’t forget that it costs around 10 times as much to get a tattoo removed – so plan carefully.

I can’t wait to hear what type of tattoo you plan to get. Leave a comment on our Facebook page and let us know.