How Much Does a Spine Tattoo Cost?

Last Updated on January 1, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

A spine tattoo can make a bold and eye-catching statement. But this complex body art comes at a price. If you’re considering getting inked on your back, understanding the typical costs and factors that influence pricing is essential.

This guide will break down what goes into the spine tattoo cost and tips to spend less.

How much does a spine tattoo cost?

On average, a spine tattoo costs between $200 and $4,000. Simple, small designs start around $200. Large, custom spine pieces with extensive detailing and coloring can cost up to $4,000 or more.

Tried N True Tattoo, for example, reports that the cost of a spine tattoo can range from $200 to $1,500, with factors such as the tattoo artist’s experience, the complexity of the design, and the location all playing a role in determining the final price.

The Tattoo Sight website mentions that the cost of a simple spine tattoo ranges from $100 to $150, while a more complex and detailed design can cost around $500 to $700.

Inside Out notes that the cost of a spine tattoo can vary significantly. For example, a minimal black-line design tends to be less expensive than a full-color hyper-realistic design.

The artist’s rates can vary significantly, with some pricing based on time (hours worked multiplied by their hourly rate), and others charging a flat rate per piece. The article mentions that a tattoo that takes three hours to finish would cost around $450.

The cost of a black spine tattoo

One of the most common spine tattoos is the black one. This is probably because many famous athletes express themselves through these types of tattoos.

Depending on the style you choose and the size of the tattoo, you will have to pay anywhere between $420 and $800 for a black spine tattoo.

The cost of a colored spine tattoo

Spine Tattoo ExamplesColored tattoos require more ink to be used and more attention required from the tattoo artists, to get all the details right. This will result in a higher cost.

There aren’t all that many examples of colored spine tattoos to choose from. Some of them include legendary animals and Phoenix birds.

If we would compare the cost of a colored spine tattoo with an all-black one, we can say that this is considerably more expensive. Expect to pay around $1,000 if not more to get one.

The cost of a dragon spine tattoo

There are many people who love Japanese culture and want to reflect it in the tattoos they get on their bodies.

In general, people choose to get dragon tattoos on their legs or forearms. In fact, dragon spine tattoos are not all that common.

However, there are no limits when it comes to the tattoos people want to make and some want to get a dragon tattoo, especially on the spine.

The cost of your average dragon tattoo, made on the leg or forearm, is anywhere between $720 and $1,300, while a dragon spine tattoo will cost you around double this, so between $1,400 and $2,500+. This is because the tattoo will be much bigger and will require more hours of work.

The cost of a full spine tattoo

Plan on spending at least $520 if you want to get a simple style full spine tattoo. The price will increase if the design will be more complicated.

Think twice before getting a full spine tattoo because this is a sensitive body area and you will have to go through a lot of pain. You can even reach the point where managing the pain will be close to impossible and not finishing the tattoo will mean you will lose all the money. And you will end up not having a complete tattoo either.

Factors That Influence Spine Tattoo Cost

Size and Design Details – Larger, more complex tattoos require more time and labor. A simple script name or rose may only take an hour and cost $200. A full back Japanese scene could take 10+ hours over several sessions at $4,000.

Obviously, if you want to get a spine tattoo with a complex design that requires many hours of work for the tattoo artist, it will be much more expensive.

For example, you will not have to pay a large sum of money for the well-known spine tattoo of Connor McGregor because it is made of a simple line; plan on spending around $300.

Placement – Spine tattoo costs also depend on placement. Designs restricted to just the nape area are simpler versus a back piece covering the full spine. Intricate wrapping and filling also add time.

Amount of Color – Black ink only is the most affordable. Vivid multi-colored tattoos take longer. Specialty-colored inks can also increase costs.

Amount of Shading and Detail – Photorealistic dimension and detail requires greater artist effort and expertise. The more shading and detailing, the higher the price.

Line Thickness – Thin lined tattoos take precision and care to execute cleanly. Expect to pay more for complex line work.

Geographic Location – Artist rates vary based on average costs of living and demand. Major metros like NYC and LA have the highest rates.

Tattoo Artist Skill Level – Top artists command higher hourly rates. Ensure artists are licensed, reputable, and worth the investment.

Additional Expenses to Consider

Here are other variables that bump up the total spine tattoo price:

Consultation Time – Reputable shops provide free consultations, but some charge hourly consultation fees.

Tip – Tips for tattoo artists typically range from 15% to 20% of the total cost.

Aftercare Products – Quality aftercare ointments, soaps, and moisturizers help new tattoos heal properly. This adds $25-$50 to costs.

Touch-ups – Touch-ups for freehand tattoos may be needed and cost extra. Stipulate touch-ups in the initial quoted price.

Removal – Laser removal down the road if you change your mind adds thousands in costs and discomfort.

You might also like our articles about the cost of back dimple piercings, butterfly tattoos, or koi fish tattoos.

Ways to Reduce Your Spine Tattoo Cost

Here are tips to keep spine tattoo costs in check:

Find Discounts and Deals – New shops sometimes run specials and contests with discounted or free tattoo rates to attract clients.

Consider Apprentice Artists – Apprentices have lower rates as they build skills and portfolios. Ensure quality supervision.

Join Loyalty Programs – Some shops offer loyalty points, free touch-ups, or discounts for repeat clients.

Book During Off-Peak Times – Slow business days like Tuesday afternoons may mean lower rates.

Start Small – Get a feel for costs with a simple design before committing to a large piece.

Avoid Peak Holidays – Around holidays like Halloween or Friday the 13th rates often increase due to high demand.

Go Minimalist – Simpler designs with clean lines, limited shading, and minimal coloring cost less.

Focus on High-Impact Areas – Nape or upper back pieces make a statement without requiring a full back tattoo.


A spine tattoo can make a visually arresting statement and demonstrate your individuality. But this specialized tattoo area comes at a price, with costs starting around $200 for small designs and going up to $4,000 or more for extensive artwork.

Carefully select your design, placement, artist, and schedule timing to keep your budget in check.

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