How Much Do Portrait Tattoos Cost?

If you’re thinking about getting inked with a portrait, you’re probably wondering how much you should spend. That’s a legitimate concern since it’s a big decision, and you want to make sure you’re prepared financially. In this blog post, we’ll give you an idea of average tattoo prices. You should keep in mind, however, that prices can vary depending on the artist, the size of the tattoo, and other factors.

Therefore, it would be hard to tell beforehand how much you will have to spend without actually talking to a tattoo artist and getting a quote. So if you’re curious about the price of a certain tattoo, it would be best to talk to your chosen artist.

dave strod tattoo artist in Edinburgh

How Much Does a Portrait Tattoo Cost? Answered by a Professional Tattoo Artist

We asked a well-known tattoo artist from Edinburgh, Dave Strods the big question – How much do tattoos cost? Check out his answer below:

That’s a great question and that’s also the one that I hear the most in the media. Interestingly enough, people coming into the shop actually don’t ask it as the 1st question popping into their heads anymore, at least in my studio.

I’m happy to see that more and more, the general public is getting educated on tattoo-related topics. It did bring up some funny stories in the past, 

How much for a portrait? (Or any other tattoo for that matter) To me, it’s basically like asking how much for water without specifying whether are you looking for distilled, deionized, or drinking one and in what volume you want to buy it. 

Just ask yourself how can you price something that will be on you forever.

People coming into Ecdysis for a tattoo are looking for something much bigger and more important to their personality than, let’s say, a pair of collectible sneakers and most importantly, you can get a great tattoo most definitely cheaper than those nowadays.

Of course, it’s a very slow process and unfortunately, there are oceans of misleading information out there. 

I’m glad to see that, at least in my experience, people coming to get tattoo projects started are realizing that the only reliable source of info is the artists themselves.

If they found an artist whose work quality and procedures are what they are looking for, the price will always be worth it.” – Dave Strod

Average Portrait Tattoos Costs

Next, we checked the market to get ballpark figures on how much a tattoo costs. On average, a tattoo artist in the US charges around $800 per tattoo. However, prices can vary depending on a number of factors which we will discuss later in this article.

If you’re looking for a custom tattoo design, your artist will likely charge more than if you were to choose from one of their pre-made designs. So it’s important to be upfront with your artist about what you’re looking for, and make sure they’re comfortable with creating a custom piece for you on top of other considerations.

A lot of artists also offer payment plans, so don’t let the cost scare you away from getting a portrait tattoo. You can always talk to them about how much they charge per session, and if you’ll need multiple sessions before it’s complete.

Portrait Tattoo Cost Factors

The average tattoo cost as mentioned above is quite tricky to figure out. This is because of tattoo cost factors as per below: 

Artist’s Experience

As with any other service, the experience of the artist will have a direct effect on the cost. An experienced artist is more likely to charge more for their services than an inexperienced one for obvious reasons. So should you decide you want a popular tattoo artist to do the work, you need to be prepared to spend more.

Size of Tattoo

The size of the tattoo will also affect the price. A larger tattoo will generally cost more than a smaller one as larger tattoos will require more hours to complete.

Body Placement of the Tattoo

The location of the tattoo can also affect the price as it determines the work complexity. Tattoos on areas like the chest or back are typically more expensive than those on less visible areas like the arm or leg. Most people will also think that ankle tattoos are cheaper because they are usually smaller. Well, ink work on ankles isn’t easy for both the artist and the client as this area requires special care. Most especially with a squeamish client.

It’s important to note that it will always cost extra if you’re looking into getting inked in hard-to-reach and painful areas of your body.

Complexity of Design

The complexity of the design can also play a role in determining the price. A more intricate design will generally be more expensive than a simpler one. It makes sense for a tattoo artist to charge less for designs already found in their catalog than a custom design.


The number of ink colors used in the tattoo will also affect its price. A multicolored tattoo will cost more than a black and gray one for obvious reasons. However, this does not mean that it is impossible to get a colorful portrait tattoo at an affordable price as most artists do offer discounts on tattoos with many different shades.


Another factor that can affect the price is touch-ups. If you want your portrait tattoo touched up after some time, then you might have to pay extra for it depending on how much work needs to be done by the artist and if they are willing to do so without charging any additional fees or not.

Tattoo Artist’s Location

Another thing that can affect the price of a portrait tattoo is where you decide to get it done. Generally, tattoo shops in bigger cities will charge more for their services than those located in less affluent areas. It can actually cost 10 times more if you choose a tattoo shop located in a metropolitan area with a higher cost of living than in a smaller town.

It may sound ridiculous but it’s not all about greed. Tattoo shops have to cover expenses such as rent so it makes sense for them to charge higher since rental rates in densely populated areas are much higher than in small towns and cities.


The type of equipment used for tattooing will also have an impact on the price. The same can be said about ink quality as well.

Most professional body artists use a rotary machine, which is more expensive than coil machines but they are considered to be safer and more effective in creating clean lines without causing any injuries or bleeding during tattoo sessions.

Although it may not be easy to tell the difference between mediocre and high-quality equipment, you can tell how an artist takes care of his tools by looking at the maintenance quality. If tools and equipment are shiny and well-maintained, the place is clean and neat, and so on, then you can safely say that it’s a premiere shop managed by professionals. So when you walk into these shops, it would be best to set your expectations regarding their prices straight. That is, they are more likely to charge more than your typical rural area tattoo artist.

tattoo artist design leith

Average Tattoo Prices Based on Body Placement

No matter what type of tattoo you desire, placement can come into play when it comes to costs. Larger areas will naturally take more time to tattoo, so here are a few estimates based on size and placement:

Half-Sleeve Tattoo Cost

A half-sleeve tattoo is usually priced in the range of $800-$1000 for a medium-sized portrait (about 12″x12″), and $1300-$1500 if you want it to go all around your arm.

Full Sleeve Tattoos

Full sleeve tattoo prices are generally between $2000-$3000, with an average cost being around $2500 for a medium-sized portrait ranging from 14″ wide to 16″-18″ tall. You can expect this price to increase as more detail is added or larger sizes become necessary due to placement considerations such as covering scars or birthmarks that require additional coverage space not normally needed when creating smaller tattoos.

Bicep Tattoos

Bicep tattoos are generally priced in the range of $350-$600, with most falling around the $450 mark. This price can go up or down depending on the size and complexity of the portrait as well as how many colors are used. Generally speaking, you can expect a colorful bicep tattoo to be more expensive than one that is done in black and gray ink only.

Chest Tattoos

Chest tattoos for men usually cost between $800 and $2000 depending on the size and detail of the design. A full-chest piece with a lot of intricate details can easily surpass this price point especially if it’s large enough to cover most of the chest area.

Back Tattoos

Back tattoos are generally priced between $800-$5000, with most being around the $1500 mark. If you want something smaller than that then expect to pay less money for it (around $600-$700).

Neck Tattoos

Neck tattoos usually cost between $100 and $200. The price can go up or down depending on how many colors you want in your portrait tattoo as well as what kind of detail work needs to be done by the artist in order to make it look realistic enough without causing any pain during the application process due to excessive needles poking into sensitive areas such as the face or neck area where nerves tend not feel good when getting pricked continuously over a long period time. The starting rate is typically $75 an hour, but it can go up to $250 or more per hour depending on the artist’s experience and expertise.

It is Always Pays to Pay to Work With a Professional

In the end, it’s always best to work with a professional when it comes to getting portrait tattoos done. Although you may be tempted to go for an artist who is affordable and within your budget, remember that you get what you pay for. A cheap tattoo is likely to look like one – a rushed job with poor lines and shading.

A good rule of thumb is to expect to spend at least $400 on a basic portrait tattoo but if you want something more elaborate or have a specific design in mind, then the price could potentially go up from there.

Although you may get cheaper services from your friendly neighborhood freelance tattoo artist, you should always pay extra to ensure safety. A tattoo artist’s living room or bedroom will never be as clean and as safe as a well-maintained tattoo shop. Additionally, it would be worth trusting a professional tattoo artist who owns or works in a reputable tattoo shop in case something goes wrong. Professional tattoo artists generally offer warranties so you can either get your money back or get your tattoo fixed for free should you not be pleased with the outcome. Most importantly, by working with an experienced artist, you are giving yourself the best shot to get the best tattoo you can have. You would not want to get a removal immediately after getting inked, right?

In the worst case that you are also not really thrilled with your initial tattoo, you may want to get it removed before getting another one done. Most professional tattoo artists offer tattoo removal services which is something that newbies in the industry may not be well-versed with. 

Shop Around for Tattoo Prices

The first step in figuring out how much portrait tattoos cost is to contact various tattoo shops and ask for their rates. You can also do this by calling them or visiting their websites. If possible, try to visit the shop personally so you can get a feel of what it’s like working with that artist or shop owner because everyone has their own style when it comes to ink work as well as customer service level.

If they don’t have any samples on display, then it would be an advantage if they allow clients who are interested in getting a portrait tattoo done there sometime before making up their minds whether or not they want one from them (This will give you more opportunity to see if his/her artistic match your expectations ).

Some tattoo artists will provide you with a quote for the work to be done, while others will require that you come in for a consultation so they can have a look at the design and discuss it with you.

It’s also important to bear in mind that most professional tattoo artists do work on an hourly basis. This is why it’s crucial to get rate comparisons from different sources before making your final decision.

How Long Does a Portrait Tattoo Session Take?

While every tattoo is different, portrait tattoos generally take longer than other types of tattoos. The time it takes to complete your tattoo depends on the complexity and detail of your design thus it will also depend on how many sessions you have with an artist. Some artists will do a full-day session while others prefer smaller sessions over several days or weeks so they don’t get tired out by long hours in one day and you have time to fully recover. As mentioned above most skilled and experienced tattoo artists charge per hour as this allows them to put quality above all. Some artists will charge you for the entire project so you have several sessions to finish getting inked. For quality tattoo work, I would suggest contacting an experienced and professional tattoo artist, like Minh Pham Tattoos.

Generally speaking, portrait tattoos cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on the size of the design, how many colors are used, and the level of detail involved. So if you’re thinking about getting one done, be sure to set aside enough money for it! Keep in mind the saying “You get what you pay for!” And when it comes to getting inked, remember that quality and your safety should always come first. Tattoos are a lifetime mark so you wouldn’t want to be regretting it every day for the rest of your life.

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