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Tattoo Pricing Guidelines

Tommy Lee set a new, mile-high record this year for flying 45,000 feet in the air while getting penetrated … with a tattoo needle.

Mario Barth of Starlight Tattoo gave the infamous drummer a black and gray tattoo of a peacock on his thigh as they flew from Burbank to Miami aboard a private jet (Tommy’s). The stunt landed Lee and Barth in the Guinness Book of World Records for “First-Ever to Perform a Tattoo in High Altitude.” Barth, whose client roster includes Lenny Kravitz, Ja Rule and Nikki Sixx, is keeping tight lipped on who fronted the bill (Tommy), but said it cost around $150,000 for approximately 5 hours of tattooing.

Although pricing for this tattoo is extreme, many factors determine tattoo pricing:

  • The client
  • The tattoo artist
  • The placement of the tattoo
  • The design. The more elaborate the design, the more it will cost you.
  • The colors. Ditto.
  • The size. Ditto.
  • Flash or original. If you choose a tattoo from a flash, it doesn’t take an artist much to copy that generic design. However, most high-end artists don’t do flash and will either come up with an original design themselves, or tweak the one you give them. Usually, such artists factor in the time spent drawing the tattoo into the final cost.
  • The time it takes to complete. Some tattoo shops charge an hourly fee, so depending on how long it takes to get your tattoo, the final price may increase.

So, on average, how much are people paying for their tattoos?

In a recent survey conducted by, 39% of poll-takers paid between $100 and $250 for a single tattoo, 60% paid less than $250, and 40% paid more than $250. Those who spent over $1000 for a single tattoo (8% of the poll-takers) got a relatively large custom piece designed and completed by a world-class tattoo artist (perhaps a full-sleeve or a back piece) over multiple sessions.

The cost of a tattoo is also largely based on the artist. Anil Gupta is considered NYC’s most expensive tattoo artist who unashamedly charges an hourly rate of $350. He does customized work exclusively and tattoos everything free-hand. His tattoos, like this Seurat (pictured), have been highlighted by Ripley’s Believe it or Not as “World’s Smallest Tattoo.”

If a tattoo artist has a list of celebrities among their clientele, such as Paul Timman (also a Tommy Lee sticker), Jonathan Shaw or Kat VD, the sky is the limit for what they can charge.

Last but not least, any artist will tell you it is impossible to quote a price without seeing a design. Simply stating “I want a tribal arm band” could range from a few hundred bucks into the thousands, considering all the factors mentioned above. If you are quoted a price by a good artist that you simply cannot afford, you can look around for another artist, but you will get what you pay for. You may want to scale down your design a bit to fit your wallet, or bite the bullet and pay top-dollar for an original piece of permanent art.

Remember, a cheap tattoo is not good and a good tattoo is not cheap. To find out more information on qualified tattoo artists in your area, and their pricing guidelines, check out our artist directory on

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2 Comments on "Tattoo Pricing Guidelines"

  1. avatar Dave Says:

    Remember, tattoos last forever and you get what you pay for! Paul Timman and others are at the top of their game.

  2. avatar Cynthia Says:

    um what size tattoo can i get for the price of $250 one of a fairy with some trible

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