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So you’ve got a whole gallery of tattoo inspiration on your phone and you decided you’re ready to take the plunge and finally get that tattoo you’ve always wanted. Most tattoos have a story – it’s up to you to decide what story your tattoos should tell or if they should hold significant meaning for you. It could be a tribute to a loved one, to commemorate a special occasion or simply quote you live by. That being said, having a deep backstory is not a requirement to getting inked.
Getting your first tattoo can be both terrifying and exciting at the same time. You’re probably wondering, will it hurt? Will it come out looking good? How much will it cost?
A tattoo is a permanent work of art so it’s important that you walk away from your session happy with the work that’s been permanently etched into your skin.
Which is why we’ve done the homework for you to answer your questions. Whether it’s your first tattoo or your nth one, you want to be as prepared as possible before settling down and surrendering your skin to the tattoo artist. Here’s the lowdown on tattoos and their cost so your experience can be easy and as regret-free as possible when you get your body art done.
What To Consider Before Getting Tatted
Before you run off to the nearest tattoo parlour, ask yourself if you like the style and artwork of the resident tattoo artist. Be sure to browse their portfolio of work to see if your artistic styles and vision match. Some tattoo artists are more into cute, whimsical works like butterflies and rainbows while others might specialize in full body skulls and dragons.
A tattoo parlour might have an artist with real talent but are they hygienic? Read reviews of the studio and visit the place to check for hygiene. The last thing you want is to catch an infection from unsterilized needles.
Pain Tolerance Levels
Not everyone has the same level of tolerance for pain. Did you wince when getting your ears pierced? Do you avoid beauty treatments that have a certain level of discomfort? Only you will know your level of comfort and how much pain you’re willing to tolerate in the name of body art. Pain levels also depend on where you intend to have your tattoo. A tattoo placement on your arm is considerably less painful than a tattoo placement on your foot. If you are sensitive to pain you can ask your tattoo artist to use tattoo numbing creams to block the pain for a few hours.
It bears repeating that unlike a piercing which can be closed back, a tattoo is something that is permanent for life. Sure there is now tattoo removal technology but essentially it is another expensive and tedious process you don’t want to undergo. So if you aren’t at least 99% sure if you can commit to a tattoo, try applying temporary ones. This could be sticker tattoos or henna tattoos that usually fade away within a week.
Find out how long your chosen tattoo design will take. You need to take that into account as you are the one who has to sit through hours of tattooing. Ask your tattoo artist if they can do it in one sitting or if they require you to show up for several sessions. Of course if you’re getting a mini tattoo on your finger or arm then this is not really a concern. If you’re on vacation it’s important to find out so you’re not forced to leave with a half finished tattoo due to a time constraint.
The Cost of Each Type of Tattoo
A lot of factors go into deciding the cost of your new tattoo. It’s not something set in stone as things like size, location, style, ink used and placement can affect the price.
That being said, we’ve come up with the average cost for tattoos based on which part of the body you get them. A small, simple tattoo can set you back $50 while a large scale tattoo can go up to as much as $300. Price can also depend on your location – how many tattoo parlours are nearby and skill level of the tattoo artist.
For newbies who want ink but don’t want to “tarnish” a large section of skin yet, the finger tattoo work as the perfect starter tattoo. The cost of finger tattoos that have a word or symbol are usually around $50 to $100. Do keep in mind that it’s best to pick a small, simple design for your finger because of the way the skin on your hand will age over time, which can distort complex images.
A full-sleeve tattoo can take multiple sessions and a good tattoo session can cost anywhere from $2000 to $4000 for outline, inching towards $6000 for full colour, watercolours or shading.
3. Full Back
The cost of a back tattoo can vary greatly as it depends on the size of your back. A female back would obviously be smaller and therefore cost less than a male back. Generally speaking, it is similar in pricing to a full sleeve tattoo taking into account shading, colouring and level of intricate detail required. All in all, you’re looking at about 40-55 hours of work total, so keep that in mind when factoring costs.
A full chest tattoo price could be anywhere from $600 to $1200 since it can take anywhere from 6-10 hours of work. A half chest tattoo is about $250 for a two-toned colour outline design. Expect to pay more for a filled-in, full-color design.
A forearm tattoo is only for the confident as it’s out in the open and unless you’re constantly wearing long sleeves, it’s hard to keep it hidden. A good forearm tat will cost you anywhere from $250 to $1300 based on size and level of detail required. It goes without saying that full colour sleeves will increase the price no matter the size.
6. Shoulder Tattoo
A popular location for tattoos, the standard shoulder cap will cost you a standard $800 and increase if you want more details or to cover a larger area
Again this depends on the size of your thigh area. But the average cost of a thigh tattoo can run up to $3000. This is assuming it’s a full thigh tattoo. If you opt for a half thigh tattoo, you might only have to fork out $1500 for the artwork.
The second smallest area after the finger, standard ankle tattoo goes anywhere from $75 to $350 depending on how elaborate the details and colouring need to be.
Face tattoos are truly for the bold as no matter where you go, you’ll be showcasing your bodywork to the people around you. A face tattoo could be something as minimal as freckles across your cheeks and nose bridge or a full face tattoo. The former would cost around $500 while the full face tattoo experience will on average cost you $2000 to $3000 depending on how much shading and colour is needed.
Regardless of the type of tattoo you decide to get, it’s a general rule that the bigger the tattoo, the longer it takes and the more experienced the tattooist, the pricier it will be. It’s not a good idea to try to bargain the price down as you’re paying for the tattoo artists skill, creativity and time. The last thing you want is to piss them off!
A tattoo needs time to heal before it starts looking good. Before you leave, your tattoo artist will give you a list of dos and don’ts to properly care for your wound. You might be recommended an anti-rash cream to be applied once a week to keep your tattoo moisturized. Your skin may tingle and start to peel a little around the tattooed area but this is normal and part of the healing process.
It’s important to avoid sea water, pool water or scalding hot water but that’s not to say you can’t take a shower. While undergoing the healing process, make sure you don’t pick or scratch your tattoo. Let it flake away naturally on it’s own.