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How big is a 500 dollar tattoo?

The size of a $500 tattoo can vary quite a bit depending on several factors. The main things that will impact the size are the complexity and detail of the design, the body placement, the experience level of the artist, and geographic location. While a small, simple tattoo may only take an hour and cost $100-200, a large, complex design with color and shading can take multiple sessions of work spanning 10+ hours and cost upwards of $1000 or more. Generally speaking, here’s what you can expect to get with a $500 tattoo budget:

Average Size

For $500, most people can expect to get a tattoo around 2-4 inches in size, or covering an area about the size of a credit card. This would be around a medium sized design. Smaller tattoos like a simple word, small symbol, or line drawing could be an inch or less for $500. On the other end, an elaborate 5-6 inch design would likely exceed this budget.

$500 is a decent budget for a tattoo of moderate complexity and detail. The average hourly rate at most professional shops these days is $150-200 per hour. So for a $500 tattoo, you’d expect around 2-3 hours of work. This is enough time to complete a reasonably detailed 2-4 inch tattoo with some shading and color in most cases.

Factors Affecting Size

Design Complexity

The main factor determining size is the complexity and amount of detail in the design. Simple text or outline-style tattoos take less time, allowing the tattoo to be larger for the same price. Intricate designs with layers of color, shading, and artistic elements take more time and must be smaller to fit in the budget.

Body Placement

Where you get the tattoo also impacts size. Areas like the arms, legs, and back allow for larger tattoos. Smaller areas like wrists, fingers, and behind the ear are more restrictive on size. Time must also be spent prepping different body areas.

Artist Skill Level

The experience and speed of the artist makes a difference. Apprentices and less skilled artists will work slower, meaning less size can be covered per hour. Top tattoo artists command higher rates, but work very efficiently and can complete more in each session.

Geographic Location

Average artist rates vary across different cities and regions. In expensive urban areas like New York City or San Francisco, $500 buys less (maybe 1 hour’s work). In many rural areas and small cities, rates are lower so $500 goes further.

Average Prices Per Tattoo Size

Here are some typical price ranges you can expect to pay for tattoos of different sizes:

Tattoo Size Average Price Range
Small (1-2 in) $50 – $250
Medium (2-4 in) $150 – $500
Large (4-6 in) $400 – $1000
Extra Large (6+ in) $600 – $2000+

Of course, these are just general guidelines – some smaller or simpler designs may be on the lower end of the range, while a detailed upper arm or back tattoo may be at the top of the range even if under 6 inches. Discuss your specific design with your artist to get an accurate quote.

What You Can Get for $500

To give you a better idea, here are some examples of tattoo sizes and styles you could potentially get with a $500 budget:

  • Small text or numbers
  • Outline of a small symbol like a heart, star, or anchor (2-3 in)
  • Linear black and grey design like a feather or fern (3-4 in)
  • Lettering name/word (2-4 in depending on font)
  • Flower design (3-5 in)
  • Animal profile like a bird or deer (2-4 in)
  • Geometric or minimalist shape (3-5 in)
  • Small nature scene in black and grey (3-4 in)
  • Simple mandala (3-5 in)

More complex and colorful designs would likely need to be sized down to fit the $500 price point. Large scale and full sleeve tattoos are usually well beyond this budget. Talk to your artist about the best size range for your concept.

Adding Additional Elements

You may be able to fit more into your $500 tattoo budget by:

  • Sticking to a black and grey design without color
  • Focusing on linework and reducing shading
  • Choosing a simpler design style like geometric or minimalist
  • Getting it done in a single session rather than multiple sessions

On the other hand, elements like vibrant color, soft shading blends, photorealism, and complex compositions will limit what you can get for $500. Prioritize the most important parts of your design concept when sticking to a fixed budget.

estimating Your Tattoo Size and Price

The best way to estimate the size and cost for your specific tattoo idea is through a consultation with the artist. They can assess the complexity of the design and placement area to give you a rough quote for the size, hours, and price. Simple tattoos may only need a description, while custom designs require a non-refundable deposit and full sketch before the artist can quote accurately. Make sure to clarify your budget upfront so the design can be tailored to your price range if needed.


While $500 is a moderate tattoo budget, it can give you a meaningful and quality permanent tattoo. Focus the space on what matters most, whether it’s black and grey minimalism or a colorful floral design. Though you may need to downsize more elaborate concepts, a talented artist can still create something beautiful within a few inches of skin. Discuss your vision with a professional to make the most of your $500 budget.