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Thanks to Janis Joplin, tattoos today are not the sign of the wicked, they were purported to be a couple of years ago. In recent times, tattoos and body art have achieved the kind of popularity that was reserved for clothes and shoes. It is a fashion statement like no other accessory. It is a sign of cool, without the attached tag of being a wannabe. While many people think a hundred times before getting a tattoo, due to the pain involved in the procedure, there are still others who worry about the cost involved.

How much do tattoos cost? It is the second most common query that people planning on getting tattoos have, the first obviously being about the pain involved in getting your body inked. There are no industry standards regarding the cost of tattoos. There are several different factors that determine what the price of a body art will be. The cost of tattoos differs from city to city and artist to artist. Given below are the main factors upon which the cost depends.

Color and Size
The color and size of a tattoo are the foremost deciding factors, when it comes to its price. If you want a stock image tattoo in black ink, then the price of the tattoo will be very basic, starting from as low as USD 80. But in case you want a dragon tattoo in all its colorful, resplendent glory, covering your entire back, be ready to shell out quite a huge amount for it. The price of the tattoo increases with the number of colors used in it and the bigger the size of the tattoo gets. A small tattoo will probably cost you a flat price, but a tattoo that is larger in size may also be charged at an hourly rate, unless you have pre-decided the cost after a discussion with the artist.

Location of the Tattoo
The placement of the tattoo is another important factor that determines its cost. There are many people out there, who in a bid to be unique, end up getting tattoos at the weirdest of places, like near the genitals. Also, if you are getting tattoos at a place that is known to be painful, like the rib cage or the nape, then you may be charged more because you may be more likely to need breaks due to the pain, taking up more time of the tattoo artist. In case you want to avoid all of this, you can ask the tattoo artist to suggest an alternate body part to get inked with the same design.

Location of the Tattoo Studio
While in a given geographical location, tattoos will cost more or less the same; the prices may differ depending on the expertise of the tattoo artist. Most tattoo studios in big cities charge higher rates as compared to parlors in smaller towns and cities. This is because they have a larger number of walk-ins through the day. Tattoos also tend to cost more when they are got in places that are known vacation spots. It is a matter of prestige to say, "Oh, I got this tattoo while vacationing in Miami." A tattoo may cost you around USD 150 in Arkansas, but the same tattoo will cost you up to USD 300 in California.

Expertise of the Tattoo Artist
This is an important factor determining the cost of a tattoo. If the artist has to design the tattoo from scratch with just your creative inputs at hand, then the creation and the actual designing is also going to be a charged, as there is time and effort going into the entire process. Also, a tattoo artist who has many years' experience will charge more than a novice entrant to the field. There are many top tattoo artists, who have waiting lists running into as long as a year. With such artists, obviously the cost of the tattoo goes up. If you want a tattoo from someone featured on one of the TLC shows, then be forewarned about the big bucks you will have to shell out. With several people opting for lettered tattoos, the question how much do tattoos cost per letter is one that is frequently asked. Word tattoos cost anywhere in the range of USD 6 to USD 20 per letter depending on the tattoo artist and the size of each letter. A good tattoo artist will also ensure that you know the requisites of proper tattoo care.

Obviously, these are not the only factors that contribute to the cost of a tattoo. From the cost of the equipment and ensuring that the needles used are sterilized, to the cost of proper license for the studio, everything contributes to the price of the tattoo. But look at the money you spend on getting a tattoo as a long term investment. Getting a cheap tattoo may be at the cost of your safety and the quality of the body art. Also, do remember that tattoo artists generally do not have any form of insurance or a standard pay packet. A tattoo artist's salary generally depends on the commissions they get from every tattoo they ink, so try to give out tips which are generally in the range of 5% to 20% of the tattoo. Do not haggle about the price of the tattoo. You do not want to end up with a purposely disfigured tattoo. And you definitely do not want to be spending more money on tattoo removal. But jokes apart, appreciate the skill and patience that goes into making a tattoo on someone's body. Most of us find it difficult to hold a paintbrush steady on a canvass and tattoo artists have to work on a breathing canvas.

While it is important to know the cost of the tattoos, do not let that be the determining factor for you to choose a tattoo artist. Base your decision on the basis of the skill of the artist and the advice of people who have some information about tattoo studios. After all, you do not want a quill that looks like a tamarind leaf adorning your body. Take it from someone who is repenting for scrimping on money.