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Are colored tattoos more expensive?

Tattoos have become increasingly popular over the past few decades, evolving from a counter-culture symbol to mainstream body art. With more people getting inked comes more questions about the costs associated with tattoos. One common question is whether colored tattoos cost more than black ink tattoos. The short answer is yes, colored tattoos typically are more expensive than black tattoos. However, many factors affect tattoo pricing, so the extra cost of color can vary quite a bit.

Why Are Colored Tattoos More Expensive?

There are a few reasons why colored tattoos come with a higher price tag:

  • More ink colors used – Colored tattoos require the artist to purchase and use more inks, which adds to their material costs.
  • Longer session times – Applying multiple colors and blending them takes more time and care during the tattooing process.
  • Higher skill required – Properly executing colored tattoos involves more artistic skill and precision.
  • More experience needed – Tattoo artists must hone their techniques over many years to master color application and blending.

Essentially, colored tattoos involve more work, expertise, and supplies on the artist’s end. These factors justify them charging more for their time and materials.

Average Cost Differences

On average, you can expect to pay $50 to $100 more per tattoo hour for a color piece versus a black ink tattoo. However, hourly shop minimums also come into play. Here are some typical price differences:

Tattoo Type Average Cost
Small black ink tattoo (2 in x 2 in) $80 – $150
Small colored tattoo (2 in x 2 in) $130 – $200
Medium black ink tattoo (6 in x 6 in) $150 – $300
Medium colored tattoo (6 in x 6 in) $200 – $400
Large black ink tattoo (12 in x 12 in) $300 – $600
Large colored tattoo (12 in x 12 in) $450 – $750

As you can see, the colored tattoo prices are consistently $50 to $100 more per inch than the black ink prices. The hourly shop minimums also increase the gap for smaller tattoos. So you should budget about an extra 20-50% cost for a colored tattoo compared to black ink depending on size.

Factors That Influence Color Tattoo Costs

While colored tattoos are generally more expensive, keep in mind that pricing can vary quite a bit between shops and artists. Here are some of the factors that can influence the costs:

  • Tattoo size – Larger and more complex colored tattoos require much more time and skill to complete.
  • Body placement – Areas like hands, feet, and joints are more sensitive and difficult to tattoo.
  • Amount of color – Using more colors and blending requires more effort.
  • Color intricacy – Transitioning between colors and shading raises the difficulty.
  • Artist skill level – Top color artists will charge more for their expertise.
  • Shop location – Studios in bigger cities or trendy areas cost more.
  • Added details – Things like gemstones or UV ink add to the price.

It’s impossible to give an exact price quote for a colored tattoo without seeing the actual design. The tattoo artist will make an assessment based on these factors to provide an accurate estimate. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if their quote seems higher than expected.

Saving Money on Color Tattoos

If your heart is set on getting a colorful tattoo but your budget is limited, here are some tips to save money:

  • Go with a smaller, simpler design – The most cost-effective colored tattoos are small and minimize color transitions.
  • Stick to basic colors – Bright primaries tend to be cheaper than exotic or custom-blended colors.
  • Consider black and gray with color accents – Strategically using pops of color can look amazing while saving money.
  • Find up-and-coming artists – Less experienced artists often charge much lower rates.
  • Visit shops outside major cities – Overhead is lower in suburban and rural areas.
  • Ask about specials – Many shops offer flash sale events or holiday discounts.
  • Get a price match quote – It never hurts to negotiate, especially for large pieces!

With some creativity and deal hunting, you can get fabulous colorful ink on a budget. Just be sure to never sacrifice artistry and safety for the sake of saving money.

Is the Extra Cost Worth It?

At the end of the day, only you can decide if splurging for a colored tattoo is worthwhile. There are compelling arguments on both sides:

Reasons to pay more for color:

  • Color allows for incredibly vibrant, eye-catching designs
  • Well-executed color tattoos are truly works of art
  • Color adds depth, dimension, and realism to tattoos
  • Color conveys certain meanings and symbolism
  • Colorful tattoos age better over a lifetime

Reasons to stick with black ink:

  • Black ink tattoos have a classic, timeless look
  • Less expensive and fewer sessions needed
  • Black ink holds up well over time
  • Easy to touch up black tattoos as needed
  • Black ink covers up old tattoos better

As you weigh these pros and cons, think about your budget, pain tolerance, lifestyle, and career field. There are wonderful tattoos with just black ink. But for many tattoo enthusiasts, the extra vibrancy and impact of color is well worth the additional investment.


Colored tattoos require more work, skill, time, and materials compared to black ink tattoos. This understandably leads to them costing 20-50% more on average. However, many factors affect exact pricing such as size, placement, design complexity, artist skill, and location. While it is possible to get more affordable colored tattoos, you get what you pay for when it comes to artistry and safety. At the end of the day, only you can decide if the added visual appeal of colors outweighs the higher costs. But for tattoo lovers who value amazing artwork on their bodies, colorful ink is often priceless.