Body modification is a fantastic way to express your individuality, whether it’s a small symbol on your wrist, a quote on your collarbone, or for some, a tattoo that encompasses your entire back. Whichever option you choose, you should definitely take your budget into consideration.
There are many things that factor into the cost of a full back tattoo, but the consensus comes to a range of anywhere from $500 to $5,000 USD. You will want to do thorough research and get a quote from your tattoo artist in order to come to an approximate number so you can start saving.
However you look at it, it will most likely be a large purchase so here are some things to consider when deciding whether a full back tattoo is right for you and your budget.
What Factors Can Impact The Cost?
Different tattoo parlors and artists price their work differently. Some charge for the time it takes them to design the artwork as well as the time the actual tattoo will take, some only charge for the time you’re actually getting inked, and others. Many established tattoo parlors require a minimum deposit you pay at the time you hire them to design your piece, which can then be applied to your overall bill.
For a full back tattoo, the different items that impact the cost can include tattoo size, detail, amount of colors, hours taken to conceptualize the design (if you are giving artistic freedom to your tattooist), and the judgement of your artist.
When regarding size, of course the larger the tattoo is, the more resources it will take to complete, and the more expensive it’s going to be. You also must consider how large your whole back is – the back size of someone more petite would be smaller than that of a body-builder.
If your design is simply an all-black silhouette that requires minimal detailing and is just a black shadow, it will be less expensive than if the artist is slaving away at each individual scale on a dragon. Delicate shading and textures take more time and concentration than simply coloring within the lines. The artist also must change needles for different types of lines, using a different needle for the outline then shading, and could even use different needles for different types of shading.
Different needles are also needed for different colors. Add up the amount of times an artist must change needs for all the different details of one portion of the tattoo, and multiply that by how many colors are used for those designs. That’s a lot of equipment and resources used, all of which costs money!
Then of course the artist will charge for the amount of time it takes to complete the tattoo, which could be broken up into several appointments. Time is money.
As for the judgement of your artist, it’s all in the experience level and popularity of that particular artist. A brand new artist with minimal experience and no real clientele yet will be cheaper than the owner of an established parlor who has a reputation for beautiful designs and has clients coming from different regions to get tattooed by him/her/them.
How Long Does a Full Back Tattoo Take?
The short answer is, depending on the size and complexity, anywhere from 15 to 80 hours total. All the different factors that go into cost can also be considered when thinking about the amount of time, however another factor to be considered in this section is your pain tolerance. Someone with a higher pain tolerance won’t need to ask the artist to stop or take as many breaks, thus resulting in a longer tattoo time.
One of the most important factors that influences other factors is the level of detail in your design. According to Bustle.com, “the size of the tattoo doesn’t really factor into the time as much as the actual detailing does.” As referenced above, level of detail determines everything from the amount of needles, colors, shading, etc, all of which impact the amount of time it will take to tattoo onto your skin.
How Many Sessions Does a Back Tattoo Need?
Once again, it varies and depends on all the same factors with the more important one here being pain tolerance. These factors influence the overall time, which in turn will influence how many sessions are required. The recommended time for each session is typically from 3 to 5 hours, so depending on your design, you could have several tattoo sessions in your future. You might even be a regular at that tattoo parlor for up to a year to allot for healing time between sessions.
The reason pain tolerance is such a big factor here is because of movement and how much your artist can complete before you become impossible to tattoo. If you can sit still and take the pain with minimal movement from the get-go, your artist will be able to work faster and get more of the tattoo done in one session.
Adrenaline is a big influencer in your pain tolerance, and often can help you sit still and lower the amount of pain you’re really feeling in the first few hours of your session. However, adrenaline will wear off after some time, and once that happens, you’ll start to get twitchy. This is why 3-5 hours is the recommended time slot – once your adrenaline runs out and you start moving around, it’ll make tattooing you more difficult (not to mention the level of pain you experience goes up, so you might want to call it quits anyway).
The bottom line here is that there are too many deciding factors that influence how many sessions one full back tattoo will take for a definitive answer. My advice would be to discuss this with your tattoo artist, get these factors nailed down and he/she/they will give you a much more solid answer.
How Long Do You Have To Wait Between Sessions?
The whole reason you need to wait between sessions is because your tattoo is an open wound that needs to heal properly before the needle can inflict more harm. Because of this, it’s generally advised to wait 2-3 weeks between sessions.
During this time, your tattoo will scab, itch, and peel on the surface, while the last week is consumed with invisible healing below the surface of the skin. While you might think your tattoo is fully healed, further healing is still taking place in the lower levels of the skin.
If you do another session too soon, you are at much greater risk of infection by basically creating a wound on top of a wound. This would create a domino effect of adding healing time on top of healing time, increasing the amount of overall healing time and delaying the completion of your tattoo.
Other factors include size – a smaller tattoo will usually heal much faster than one over a larger surface area. As I’ve stated before: “The larger the tattoo, the more skin that is damaged, the more trauma to your body and the more work for your immune system.”
Overall, there are a whole slew of things to consider when deciding whether or not to get a full back tattoo, what kind of design you want, and which artist to choose. In my opinion, what it all boils down to is the size, amount of detail, and your pain tolerance that will decide just how your experience is going to go!
The most important thing is to discuss all these details with your artist and come up with a game plan for your tattoo and what they think is the best course of action. Reputable tattoo parlors will definitely have more experience and will be able to tell you everything you want to know about every kind of tattoo. Choose wisely, and enjoy your new artwork!