$50 to $300 per hour for a custom tattoo + tip
Additional Costs Or Discounts
Let’s say you find a competent tattooist, decide on a tattoo, and you’re given a cost estimate. The following are a few tips before you proceed any further:
- No Haggling - Do not dicker with the artist. If you feel that you can’t afford the price, talk about how to create a smaller or simpler tattoo that you can afford or wait until you can afford the tattoo you want, and come back to the studio.
- Agreement - Be clear about what you’re getting and what you’re paying, before the work begins.
- Extras - Some artists charge 10 to 25% extra for work on a difficult part of the body. (See Location, location, location, below.)
- Deposit - You may be asked to pay a deposit of around $50, but never pay large amounts up front. Tattoos are a “pay as you go” art form.
- Discounts - Hourly discounts are sometimes awarded to customers who regularly frequent the same artist.
- Tips - Tip your artist: 15 to 20% of the total cost, if you are pleased with your tattoo.
- Touch Ups - Costs to touch up colors on old tattoos vary. To prevent fading, start with a skilled tattoo artist, and take proper care of your tattoo.
- Regrets - Thousands of dollars for laser removal (which doesn’t always work) if you are unhappy with your tattoo and want it removed.
Location, Location, Location (Will it hurt?)
Wondering where that new tattoo should go and if it will hurt? People have widely varying tolerances for pain, but generally, it goes like this:
- Least Sensitive Areas - upper arms, forearms, calves, shoulder blades, outer thighs, and buttocks.
- More Sensitive Areas - ankles, lower back, neck, underarm, groin area, and head.
- Most Sensitive Areas - genitals (duh), sternum, ribs, hands, and feet.
And yes, for most people, it hurts. People have described the pain of tattooing as similar to scratching a badly sunburned area, getting a bad scrape, or repeated bee stings. The tattoo machine involves high speed vibration, which allows the tattoo needles to push ink into the deeper (dermis) layer of your skin. The outer, thinner layer, called the epidermis, is constantly shedding and replacing itself, while the dermis layer, now colored by the ink, remains permanent.
How To Make The Process Easier, Less Painful, And Safer
- Be excited and highly motivated to get your tattoo. If you are tense or worried, it will hurt more.
- Do NOT drink alcohol prior to getting a tattoo. Alcohol dehydrates your body and thins your blood, causing you to bleed more.
- Arrive well fed and hydrated. This energizes your body, normalizes your blood-sugar levels, and strengthens you physically and emotionally.
- Be healthy. If you have a cold, flu, or are just feeling under-the-weather, put off your tattoo experience for a later date.
- Consult your physician if you have a pre-existing condition such as diabetes, heart problems, or any condition that weakens your immune system.
- Avoid taking aspirin or aspirin-based medications (blood thinners) prior to your tattoo appointment. If you want to take a pain killer, take acetaminophen.