Home » How Long Does It Take To Get A Tattoo? [Tattoo Size And Time Chart]

How Long Does It Take To Get A Tattoo? [Tattoo Size And Time Chart]

Think about This: The day has finally arrived for you to get your tattoo. It’s a day you’ve been dreaming about for a very long time, and you’re immensely excited to see the gorgeous design or designs inked on yourself. You’ve already thought of the Instagram posts you’re going to put up after leaving the tattoo artist’s corner. However, before you sit on that chair and allow the tattoo artist to begin their work, there are certain questions you might have that require answers.

Getting a tattoo is quite a decision to make. It’s always exciting to create a mood board of the various kinds of designs you’d want on yourself. So, the vibrant colors you wish to fill them up with, and the areas you’d want to get them on, there are several things to consider before you make up your mind and head inside a tattoo parlor. One of those things is the time it takes to get a tattoo.

Not all tattoo designs are alike, and depending on multiple factors, the time it takes to finish a tattoo could vary significantly. If you’re someone who likes to plan things much ahead of time or doesn’t have the time or patience to be at a tattoo parlor for too long, you might want to gather your information beforehand. That’s exactly what we’re here to help you out with. In this article, we will discuss how long it takes to get a tattoo, the factors affecting the duration of the process, and more.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Tattoo?

How Long Does it Take to Get a Tattoo?

The time it takes to get a tattoo varies as per different variables. The tattoo’s size is one of the most crucial elements determining how long your tattoo will take to get inked on your skin.

1. Small Tattoos

A small tattoo is great for people who don’t want to be there at the tattoo parlor for long and wish to get something simple and as painless as possible. Expect it to take a minimum of half an hour. Some small tattoos could also take an hour if the placement is tricky. However, if your small tattoo has a lot of intricate details, colors, and line work, it could take longer.

2. Medium-sized Tattoos

Medium-sized Tattoos

Medium-sized tattoos take longer than the small ones, as expected, but they don’t go on for more than a single session. If the tattoo is the size of your hand or palm, it could take anywhere between two to five hours , depending on the complexity of the tattoo design. Medium-sized tattoos tend to have more details, so you should keep some time in hand before going in for such a tattoo.

3. Large Tattoos

Bigger or large tattoos take a lot of time and commitment. These can’t be finished in one setting, so you will have to keep coming back for multiple sessions after a couple of weeks. During this gap, your body attempts to heal from the previous session, and each session lasts for about eight hours. Some tattoo artists also clear their entire day for such sessions to get as much ink on the client as possible, depending on how much they can tolerate.

4. Tattoo Sleeves

Tattoo Sleeves

Prepare for a tattoo sleeve to take anywhere between 30 to 60 hours to be completed. This duration depends on whether you like how the tattoo sleeve turns out, how well your tattoo is healing, and how simple or intricate the design is. These sessions take place every few weeks, and it’s not uncommon for a tattoo sleeve to take over a year to be finished.

A tattoo sleeve can last up to 80 hours to complete. These are the cases where plenty of ink is utilized, lots of shading is involved, and multiple designs of different sizes span across the tattoo sleeve.

Factors Affecting the Time it Takes to Get a Tattoo

Factors Affecting the Time it Takes to Get a Tattoo

The following are some of the factors that affect how long your tattoo might take:

1. Size

As discussed above, size is a huge factor in determining how long your tattoo will take to get done. Hence, based on whether you want a small tattoo, a medium tattoo, or a complicated tattoo sleeve, you could be sitting on that chair for anywhere between one hour to 60 hours.

2. Color Vs. Black Ink

Color Vs. Black Ink

Colored tattoos take longer than black tattoos. This is because, with colored tattoos, the tattoo artist has to mix colors to get the right hue and then keep switching between them throughout the process. With black ink, it’s much more straightforward. If your black tattoo has shading, though, then it might take longer than the traditional black or grey tattoos.

3. Positioning of the Tattoo

The positioning of your tattoo plays a role in determining the duration of the tattoo process as well. At times the tattoo is located in a region that’s easy to access and doesn’t require you to take an uncomfortable pose while getting it done.

Some areas, however, are more difficult to access and require the client to take a position that isn’t too comfortable. In such cases, it takes longer to get the tattoo as you might want to take breaks in between.

Bonus Read: 20 Best Places to Get a Tattoo on Your Body

4. Experience of the Tattoo Artist

The more experienced a tattoo artist is, the less time it will take to complete your tattoo. When someone is new to the field, it’s obvious for them to be slower and take longer as they’re still getting used to the process. This is especially true if the tattoo is complex and has many minute details.

Questions to Ask The Tattoo Artist

Questions to Ask the Tattoo Artist

Interacting with your tattoo artist beforehand and asking them the questions running on your mind is always a wise idea. The more you know, the better. Listed below are some good questions to ask your tattoo artist before you go in for the procedure:

1. Pricing And Payment Options

The price of a tattoo varies depending on its size, positioning, complexity, and many other factors. No matter what your budget or how much ever you’re willing to pay for your tattoo, everyone wants to know how much a tattoo will cost them.

Different tattoo parlors charge differently, and some tattoo artists also charge hourly. Calculating the price based on the square inch of the tattoo is one of the most commonly followed practices.

After the pricing, ask your tattoo artist about the payment methods. Some might accept cards, and some prefer payments in cash. Also, ask whether they require a deposit beforehand and what their cancellation policies are, in case you need to call off the appointment for some reason.

2. Duration

Every tattoo artist knows how long a particular tattoo takes. They can give you details about how the size, location, or the presence of color in your tattoo can prolong the tattoo process. Ask these details prior to deciding on your design, especially if you’re not too fond of sitting still in a place for long.

3. Social Media Proof

Ask your tattoo artist for their social media handles. This is imperative because it allows you to look up all the work they have done so far, giving you an idea about their talent and experience. You can also determine how good they are based on the comments left by previous clients while also reading up the reviews and testimonials on different platforms. A truly gifted tattoo artist will never shy away from posting their work on social media.

4. Hygiene And Aftercare

Hygiene and Aftercare
Image source: onlymyhealth.com

The ways to look after your tattoo after getting it done and ensuring it heals properly is a very crucial thing to know about. Make sure you ask your tattoo artist about how to heal your tattoo and what to do or avoid during this period. Different tattoo experts have different pearls of wisdom to offer. So, note them all down carefully.

Bonus Read: How Long Should a New Tattoo be Covered?


Before you go in to get your beautiful new tattoo, being prepared is key so that there are no unpleasant surprises. Of the many details to know about, inquiring about the time your tattoo will take to be completely done should be right on top of your list. You would definitely not want to feel stuck at the tattoo parlor for longer than you’d imagined.

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!