How Much Does a Full Back Tattoo Cost?

Full back tattoos are serious business. They require more consideration than a typical tattoo or a sleeve. You have to pay attention to artist, artwork, and ink choices, but there’s a bigger concern. How much does a full back tattoo cost?

Full back tattoos at reputed tattoo parlors will cost $2500 to $5000. Some artists can charge as low as $1500, but only for tattoos with simpler details and no ink variations. Depending on the artist’s skill, experience, tattoo design, time, and ink choices, you can be charged higher.

A back tattoo will set you back quite a bit. But if you know what factors are used to determine the price and how to get around it, you can avoid being overcharged by hundreds of dollars. To help you out, I’ll be breaking down cost deciding factors and charging methods in this article.

How Much Does a Full Back Tattoo Cost

What Factors Determine the Cost of a Tattoo?

Usually, you won’t know the cost of a tattoo until the artist has finished it. They will give you a quote that’s around the ballpark of the actual cost during a consultation. They base their estimation on the factors involving the process, resources, and location. Here are the common factors that an artist would use to calculate the cost of a tattoo.

  • Artist skill and experience.
  • Custom or in-house stencil.
  • Design complexity and intricacy.
  • Tattoo placement.
  • Tattoo size.

Artist Skill and Experience

Your artist’s skill and experience matter the most when they quote you a price. The more skilled and experienced they are, the more it will cost. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect an artist to charge per hour, based on their prowess.

Artist LevelHourly Rate in USD
Apprentice or Novice (1-3 years)80-120
Featured Tattoo Artist (3-5 years)120-150
Established Tattoo Artist (5-10 years)150-180
Teaching Artist (10-above years)150-220
Famous Artist180-above

The amount your artist would charge for their skill and experience is deceptive pricing, in a good way. Skilled and experienced artists will guide you through consultation and aftercare better. They will also take less time to masterfully execute your tattoo. You’ll be getting your money’s worth, and less time means lowering the cost drastically.

full back tattoo - female

Custom or In-house Stencils

If you pick a stencil that the artist already has in their catalog, it saves them the time needed to draw. They only have to make minor adjustments and be done faster this way. So, choosing from the catalog will save you money.

But if you want a full back tattoo, you’ve probably got a vision already. Custom jobs will require new stencils and lots of adjustments to make sure it’s exactly what you want. So, these can cost more depending on what you need.

Design Complexity and Intricacy

The more complex and intricate your design is, the more it will cost. Artists will have to spend more time on tattoos that have intricate designs, minute details, or delicate scripting. So, they’ll end up charging you more for it.

Full Back Tattoo
Full Back Tattoo. Image Source: Inkworld

Tattoo Placement

Where you want your tattoo matters as well. Your feet, palms, ribs, and some other spots either have thick skin that is hard to pierce or high skin elasticity that makes it harder to be consistent with the lining. Your artist will need more passes for laying the lines down, or they have to be extra careful.

Thankfully, the back’s a good space to work with. The skin isn’t elastic, and not too thick either. You can expect to incur no extra costs for tattooing your back.

Tattoo Size

Believe it or not, tattoo size will cost you more than complex tattoo designs. Smaller tattoos require less ink and time to work on, no matter the complexity. Larger tattoos introduce long work hours, more ink, and require extra planning and consistency. So, for your full back tattoo, you’ll be charged more.

You’d think that ink and color choice would count too, but thankfully they don’t factor as much into the cost. Artists already include them in their quote with an average amount, with no extra cost for colors. However, since a full back tattoo is quite large, you might be charged a bit more if it’s extra colorful.

Amazing black and grey full-back-tattoo from Jiri Zmetek Vintr
Amazing black and gray full-back-tattoo from Jiri Zmetek Vintr

Now that you know the factors, you need the charging methods that artists will use. There are 3 methods that artists can use to calculate the cost of your full back tattoo. Knowing how these methods work can save you hundreds of dollars.

The Pricing Methods

There are 3 ways that an artist can decide to calculate your tattoo’s price.

  • Hourly rate.
  • Flat rate.
  • Day rate.

Hourly Rate

Hourly rate is the method that every artist would go for in most cases. It’s the optimal choice because they will charge fairly for the time they have worked, and you don’t overpay because of a contract amount. For a full back tattoo, the artist will likely propose this method.

Flat Rate

Instead of charging by the hour, the artist can also quote an exact amount that you have to pay. This method is only reserved for small tattoos that the artist already has stencils for. Tattooing these by the hour would likely cause the artist to lose money, so they will use this method to set a fixed cost.

Day Rate

An artist can agree to work on you for a full workday. They will charge you a fixed amount for however many hours they worked on you on that day. Full back tattoos can take 40–55 hours to complete, so artists can offer you the day rate instead of the hourly rate.

Day rates can start from $600 to $1200. Some artists will offer lower day rates if they feel like they are interested in working on your tattoo, or it will bring them exposure.

Now that you know how the cost is calculated, let’s move on to how you can exploit this to reduce your cost.

How to Avoid Being Overcharged for a Full Back Tattoo?

You will have to pay a hefty bill for a full back tattoo, no doubt. But you can end up saving a significant amount if you make the right choices. A couple of things you can do to reduce costs are mentioned right here.

  • A typical full back tattoo will take 40–55 hours. So, a question you should ask is, “How much does a full back tattoo cost on the day rate?” Compare their rate and work hours against the hourly rate and see if you can lower the cost.
  • Break the tattoo down into parts. Do one part at a time. This gives your back a chance to heal between sessions, but it also gives your wallet time to replenish itself after each session. This way, you get what you need without breaking your bank.

Here are some other things that you ought to know if you want to lower the cost. –

  • Some artists will charge you for your entire stay in the tattoo room. It doesn’t matter whether they have worked the whole time or not. Occupying their working space for no reason will increase costs.
  • Some artists will also include their break times, and time spent consulting other clients within your session in their pay.
  • Many artists won’t charge you for freehand time, cleanup, and aftercare instructions.
  • You might be charged for consultation whether you’ve decided to work with them or not.

Whether your artist includes these issues in their quote or not is entirely up to them. Don’t hesitate to ask about these issues, so you know exactly what you’re paying for.

Final Words

The answer to “How much does a full back tattoo cost?” isn’t ironclad. Depending on how you’ve planned and your requirements, your cost can go out of the average range. But you can control it by clarifying cost factors with your artist and seeing if you can fragment the process to cover the cost over time.

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