Knuckle Tattoo Cost

How Much Do Knuckle Tattoos Cost?

Last Updated on January 31, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Knuckle tattoos have become an increasingly popular form of body art. With their high visibility and the ability to display words, symbols, or designs, knuckle tattoos offer a unique way for people to express themselves.

But before getting inked on your hands, it’s important to understand the costs involved. This article will break down the average pricing, factors that affect cost, tips for choosing an artist, design considerations, the tattoo process, aftercare, longevity, and more. Read on to learn what goes into budgeting for knuckle tattoos!

How Much Does a Knuckle Tattoo Cost?

A general rule of thumb is that you can expect to pay between $50 – $300 per tattoo, though prices can ultimately vary quite a bit. Very small, simple lettering or designs may fall at the lower end of this range, while more complex, custom work will be pricier. The experience level of your artist will also impact cost.

On average, most knuckle tattoos cost around $125 per finger. But with the many factors detailed below, some may pay less than $100 per finger, while others end up spending over $200 per finger. states that the average cost of a small finger tattoo is $50-$100, while a medium-sized finger tattoo can cost $150-$250.

Reddit discussions and a blog post from also mention that finger or hand tattoos can start at $50 for something simple and go up to $300 for more elaborate designs.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Knuckle Tattoos

What exactly goes into the pricing for knuckle tattoos? Here are some of the key factors that can influence the costs:

The Complexity of the Design

More complex designs that incorporate shading, colors, and finer details as well as harder-to-reach locations of the tattoo will require more of the artist’s time, effort, and supplies. This translates to a higher cost for the client. Simple lettering or outlines are quicker and easier to do, reducing the price.

Tattoo Artist’s Experience Level

Reputable, seasoned artists with strong knuckle tattoo portfolios will charge more hourly than tattooers just starting out. You’re paying for their expertise in delivering top-notch work on a very tricky canvas.

Studio Location and Overhead

Shops in major cities like LA, New York, and Miami pay more for real estate and operations. Tattoo costs are adjusted to cover the studio’s higher expenses.

Number of Fingers/Knuckles Being Tattooed

Pricing is multiplied for each additional knuckle you want tattooed within the same session. A full set of designs across all knuckles will carry a higher total cost than just one finger.

Length of Tattoo Sessions

Most professional tattoo studios charge by the hour. Larger, more detailed pieces requiring multiple sessions equals more hours and higher overall cost.

Color vs. Black and Gray Ink

Color tattooing requires more time, equipment, and supplies. This tends to make the price tag higher compared to black and gray ink tattoos.

Also read our articles about the cost of tattoos in general, henna tattoos, and eyebrow tattoos.

Choosing the Right Tattoo Artist for Knuckles

Due to the intricacies of tattooing hands and knuckles, it’s vital to select an experienced artist for the job. Here’s what to look for:

  • A specialty in knuckle/hand tattoos – Ask to see healed photos of their knuckle work. An artist experienced in these placements will better understand the techniques and challenges involved.
  • Mastery of small, detailed designs – Knuckle tattoos are often very small and require precision. Look for an artist skilled in intricate details and script/lettering tattoos.
  • Strong line work – Clean, crisp lines are crucial for knuckle tattoos to hold up over time. Review the artist’s portfolio for top-quality line work.
  • 5+ years of professional experience – Look for half a decade or more of experience tattooing in a professional shop. Less than this often signals an amateur artist or apprentice.

While an experienced knuckle tattoo specialist may charge $150 per hour or more, it’s worth the premium price to get the best-quality art on such a visible placement.

The Importance of Design and Customization

The specific tattoo design you choose will play a big role in the final cost. Consider the following:

  • Pre-drawn designs vs. custom artwork – Getting a quick tattoo of pre-drawn lettering or images will be the cheapest. Unique custom designs require the artist to spend time drawing, so expect to pay more.
  • Black and gray vs. color – Most knuckle tattoos are black/gray. But adding color elements or full-color designs requires specialty supplies and significantly more time to complete. This can double the cost or more.
  • Complexity – How intricate the art is and how much detail goes into it will determine the time and skill required. More complex tattoos take longer in the tattoo chair, increasing your costs.
  • The number of knuckles being tattooed – Getting all four knuckles tattooed instead of just one can quadruple the price depending on design size. The price per knuckle decreases slightly the more that are tattooed in one session.

Take the time to consult with your artist and get their input on the best options for your budget and ideas. This can help control final pricing.

What to Expect: The Knuckle Tattoo Process

Getting ink on the knuckles presents unique challenges for both the artist and the client. Here’s an overview of the process:

  • Initial consultation – Discuss design ideas and placement, review the portfolio, and get a price quote. A consult fee often applies.
  • The artist will clean and prep the skin. Knuckles need extra attention to disinfect due to high bacteria levels on hands.
  • Stenciling the design outline usually comes next. Stencils help ensure symmetry between knuckles.
  • The tattooing begins. It typically involves multiple passes with layers of ink to get a solid fill-in. This is where the core cost builds as hours tick by.
  • Most studios recommend 2-4 sessions for knuckle tattoos to allow for adequate healing between sessions.
  • There is often more pain compared to other body parts. The knuckle’s thin skin and high concentration of nerve endings means extra sensitivity.
  • Aftercare is critical. Expect to pay an additional $25-$50 for recommended ointments/lotions to prevent scabbing and loss of ink.

Caring for Knuckle Tattoos

Knuckle Tattoo ExampleFresh knuckle tattoos require diligent aftercare as the thin skin is prone to scabbing. This can lead to poor healing and faded ink. Expect the following aftercare costs:

  • Tattoo-care ointments – Antibacterial, moisturizing ointments are key for the first 1-2 weeks. They often cost $15-$30 per bottle or tube.
  • Sunscreen – SPF 30 or higher sunblock is needed to prevent fading when knuckles are exposed to sun. Expect to pay $10-$20 for a bottle.
  • Gloves – Wearing fingerless gloves helps protect new tattoos until fully healed. Prices range from $5-$15 or more per pair.
  • Extra sessions – Poor aftercare that results in uneven fading or scarring often means getting additional touch-up sessions, usually costing around $50 per finger.

Proper aftercare products and diligence are vital investments to get your money’s worth from fresh knuckle tattoos. Allow $50 or more for supplies.

Knuckle Tattoo Longevity and Maintenance

The thin skin and frequent use of our hands means knuckle tattoos fade more quickly than in other areas. With proper care, you can expect your knuckles to remain vibrant for 6-12 months before needing touch-ups. After that, annual or biannual touch-ups help keep the tattoos looking sharp.

Factor in a touch-up session every 12-18 months to maintain your knuckle ink. Most artists charge by the hour or the finger. So touch-ups cost around $50 per knuckle. Proactively budgeting and scheduling touch-up sessions is the best way to keep knuckle tattoos looking their absolute best.

Legal and Social Considerations

While becoming more mainstream, knuckle tattoos come with some legal and social concerns worth noting:

  • Employment – Some professions or employers still frown upon visible hand/knuckle tattoos. They could negatively impact getting hired.
  • Public perceptions – Due to associations with prison tattoos, knuckle ink can lead to stigma, assumptions, and judgment in some settings.
  • Regret down the road – Since our tastes change over time, getting a knuckle tattoo in your youth could lead to regrets later in life. Laser removal is an option but can be expensive and painful.

Think carefully before permanently inking highly visible knuckles if you work in a conservative field or value flexibility in self-expression. The costs go beyond merely dollars and cents.

Spending Less on Knuckle Tattoos

There are ways to get a tattoo on your knuckles while keeping your budget in check. Some options include:

  • Get small, simple lettering instead of ornate graphics.
  • Stick to black and gray ink only.
  • Work with an up-and-coming artist offering lower hourly rates. But carefully review their portfolio first.
  • Only get 1-2 knuckles tattooed instead of a full set.
  • Opt for pre-drawn designs over custom art to save time and money.
  • Negotiate pricing packages or shop specials when getting multiple fingers tattooed in one session.
  • Properly care for your new tattoos to avoid costly touch-ups from poor healing.
  • Wait for special events or conventions when tattoo artists often offer discounted pricing.

With some creative cost-saving strategies, you can get stunning knuckle tattoos that make a statement without blowing your budget.


Knuckle tattoos carry a wide range of pricing depending on factors like design complexity, color, artist skill, number of fingers, and more. Expect a finger tattoo cost of $50 – $300 per finger.

While not cheap, choosing the right artist and design, budgeting for aftercare supplies and annual touch-ups, and utilizing some cost-saving tips can help keep your knuckle tattoo costs affordable.

With their unique visibility and self-expression, for tattoo enthusiasts, knuckle tattoos can be worth the investment.

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