$50 to $300 per hour for a custom tattoo + tip
What It Costs
The cost of your tattoo depends largely on type, size, colors, complexity, placement on your body, and, of course, time.
Flat Rate For Flash
Most studios have a large selection of pre-designed sheets (called “flash”) displayed on their walls. There are also small standards like hearts, roses, and simple lettering. Usually, these require about 1 hour of chair time. The cost is between $50 to $100, depending on size, color, and placement on your body.
Hourly For Custom Designs
If you’re looking for something more complicated and creative, or if you have your own design, an hourly rate will apply. Rates vary widely, depending on location of the studio and the skill and reputation of the artist. The cost is between $50 to $300 an hour, with $100 to $150 per hour being your best bet.
If your tattoo is complex and requires special illustration time, you may or may not be charged an additional hour’s time for this service. It depends on the studio and the artist, and you should understand the shop’s policy before you settle into the chair. The cost is between $0 to $300, depending on artist.
Finding The Right Tattoo Artist
“Good tattoos aren’t cheap, and cheap tattoos aren’t good.” As always, you get what you pay for, and this purchase will last a lifetime, whether you like it or not. If you find someone who will give you a tattoo for free, or for a very low price, be wary. These people are often just starting out, and are in need of people to practice on. If that’s what you want, fine. But remember: a cheap tattoo will, sooner or later, look like a cheap tattoo.
Choose your tattoo artist based on quality, rather than price, convenience, or even personality. While you definitely want to feel comfortable with your tattooist, skill and talent are paramount.
One of the best ways to find a skilled artist is to tactfully approach people sporting tattoos that appeal to you. Most people are proud of their body art and are happy to talk about it and share the name of their artist. Tattoo magazines and conventions are other ways to learn about artists nationwide, in case you’re willing to travel. They also give you new ideas about the artwork available and the different styles of tattoo art.
Visit local shops and check out the artwork. Don’t just look at the flash on the walls. Ask to see artists’ portfolios, and, if possible, talk to them about their work and what style they prefer. Shop around. Don’t be in a hurry. Your decision to get a tattoo should be a gradual one, as you decide who will do it, what you want, and where you want it.