How Much Does a Half Sleeve Tattoo Cost?

Gone were the days when people with tattoos are portrayed as the bad guys. Even those with heavy tattoos were typecast as drug addicts or coke heads at one point.

Originally, it was really used to be just a plain art form from the ancient times. Now, the stigma has vanished and the reputation has reverted back to its original state, which is an artful expression. Much like the accessories we use, just more on the permanent side.

And since the tattoo is supposedly a permanent thing, it is important to think thoroughly where you want to put your tattoo, especially if it was your first.

One of the more popular choices for the part of the body where tattoos are likely to put the first time is the sleeve or bicep. When the thought of having your favorite graphics or having a symbol emblazoned on your skin excites you immensely, then it is time to consider having one.

But first, let us discuss the cost of a tattoo, particularly the half sleeve price.

Average Cost of Half Sleeve Tattoo

The charge of a tattoo artist depends on a lot of factors but the most commonly applied method is by the hour. The average cost of a tattoo in any part of the body is between $75 and $150 per hour but could range from as low as $50 to as high as $250 an hour. But expect to pay around $350 to $500 or more per hour to some of the in-demand artists around.

When considering the average hourly rate, expect to spend around $500 up to $2,000 for the half sleeve tattoo cost that could typically last around five to eight hours minimum to complete, but can be as long as eight to 15 hours depending on the size and the intricacy of the design.

What are Included

The half sleeve price being charged or quoted by the tattoo artist of your choice would include the following:

  • Consultation would be the very first step before any of the tattoo session commence as the artists need to clarify some details before they could recommend which tattoo would look good on you based on your preferences; that is if you do not have any idea and would want the artist’s input or recommendation. This is crucial because once it is already done; getting it altered or even erased can be more costly than the original price of the tattoo.
  • The planning stage where you get to specify the design, size, color combinations you want to have tattooed on your sleeve. Please note that depending on the customized design you choose or prefer to be created, it might take some time to finish depending on the intricacy of the design so be sure to have a lot of time to spare as it may even take days, weeks, or months to finish.
  • In the case of the existing tattoo design, choosing among their galleries and catalogs of pre-designed art can be part of the process but this would typically take lesser time to accomplish than the pre-planned tattoos.

Additional Costs

If you do not have an idea of how and when the per hour charge would start, normally, as early as the planning stage would your clock start clicking and the artist would typically allot around an hour to draw the design you have described.

If you eventually have a change of heart, prepare to spend a hefty amount for the tattoo removals which has a basic cost of around $200 and would take 15 minutes to complete for the small basic tattoo. Imagine if you have a gigantic tattoo on your biceps. That would take a lot of time to remove and very costly as well.

Sometimes, you only get the basic tattoos with the black ink. Then gradually, you grow so fond of the art that little by little, you go back to your artist to make an upgrade like adding graphics or color until it becomes a large and complex design but more pleasing to the eyes.

Some artists or studios would often ask for a deposit of around $100 in order to book you in a time slot which could be applied to your bill later on. But if you did not show up on the agreed time, they reserve the right to forfeit your deposit as payment for wasting their time waiting for you.

Shopping for Half Sleeve Tattoo

The first step towards your dream tattoo is to find a tattoo shop. The can help you locate one wherever you are in the United States.

It is very crucial to select your tattoo artist thoroughly as it is very costly to be wrong with this one. So the cost can be overlooked when you want satisfaction guaranteed. So the best way is to look for the previous works of the artist.

If you even saw someone somewhere whose tattoo fancies you, it may help to ask where he or she got the tattoo and ask for the contact details or location of the artist.

But if you are half-hearted with the idea of having a tattoo, you might want to try temporary inks or henna using adhesive stencils to get the feel if you really want to get the permanent thing eventually.

Factors Affecting Half Sleeve Tattoo Cost

Different factors can affect the cost of your tattoo either directly or indirectly. Some of these factors are as follows:

Size – naturally, the larger the art that needs to be drawn on the sleeve, the longer it will take the artist and the more materials are needed to complete the job.

Color – a simple black ink would cost a lot cheaper compared to when you want different color pigments on your tattoo. Not only it needs additional cost for the colors, it also adds to the effort the artist needs to put into your tattoo to achieve the desired finish.

Part of the body – if you think tattooing in different parts of the body is charged the same, think again. While you may consider them as the same skin, there are parts that can be discomforting to the both you and the artist, therefore may require more effort which translates to additional cost or hourly charge.

Design – two designs with the same size can vary in price due to complexity which means it would take the artist more time and effort to accomplish the more complex one than the other.

Tattoo artist – your choice of the artist would largely affect your tattoo half sleeve price depending on the following factors:

  • Skills level – as with any other services, the level of the knowledge of any professional in his or her field would dictate how much rate to be imposed.
  • Experience – like the skills level, another factor that determines whether an artist would charge higher is his or her years of experience. Expect to pay skyrocketing rate per hour to artists who are already 20+ years in the business.

Apprentice or Beginner (1-3 yrs) $60 – $100 per hour

Solo Tattoo Artist (3-5 yrs) $100 – $120 per hour

Established Artist (5-10 yrs) $120 – $140 per hour

Teaching Artist (10+ yrs) $140 – $170 per hour

Popular Artist $140 +

  • Popularity – regardless of whether what you saw on TV or on social media is true or not about the artist’s capabilities, you cannot erase the fact that that artist is popular and would be charging as such. Your only consolation for the not so good tattoo if ever is the bragging right of having tattooed by a famous artist.
  • Method – the method that would be used in putting your desired art on your sleeve would also be one of the factors of the artist’s fee due to the technology involved. Also, those who want to be tattooed the traditional way that some cultures around the world do, you might need to invest a little more as these types tend to be nearing its extinction and because of the bragging rights, might also cost higher than usual.
  • Speed – how fast your artist can finish the job would cost you cheaper compared than when done by slower artists. But if the quality is important to you, you would not likely mind doing it slowly so as not to compromise the outcome.

Studio – the popularity of the studio where you will be inked will greatly increase the chances of you paying higher than off the radar tattoo studios.

Customized or pre-drawn – just like in buying clothes in the mall or department store where a ready-made dress would cost cheaper, ordering customized clothes would be more expensive. It’s no different with tattoos as you would also need to pay higher for the customized design rather than choosing one off the catalog.

Location – tattoo studios are a legitimate business that pays taxes and licenses so the state, city, or county where they are located would be a factor in the pricing due to the cost of living and cost of doing business factors.

Additional Information

When you have decided to finally have a tattoo, some important and useful tips that you might consider are the following:

  • A complete sleep and rest the night before the appointment is very important body conditioning especially if you expect long hours in the tattoo shop
  • Eat a good meal and drink a lot of fluid prior to the tattoo session
  • A doctor certification is necessary if you are taking blood thinners as you may bleed easily with the procedure. Ask your doctor if it is even advisable for you to have tattoos or if you can temporarily stop the medication to be able to get the tattoo. Either way, you need to present a certification prior to being tattooed if you have blood issues.
  • If you have allergies, you have to mention that too as the tattoos artists will use different materials that you may have an allergic reaction to.

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