How Much Does a Half Sleeve Tattoo Cost?

Written by: Staff

Half-sleeve tattoos refer to a tattoo that takes up half the arm, commonly in the region of the entire upper arm from the shoulder to the elbow.  However, some traditional Japanese and tribal “half sleeves” may start on the chest.

Shading added to the sleeve by joestump, on Flickr
Shading added to the sleeve” (CC BY 2.0) by  joestump

How much does a half sleeve tattoo cost?

The price of a half sleeve tattoo will depend on the experience of the artist, how detailed the tattoo design is, the complexity and geographical location.  It is really hard to pinpoint an exact price as each situation is going to be different.  This can be said with any tattoo you plan on getting.  An entire sleeve, on average, can range anywhere from $500 to as much as $3,000 or more.  Again, this is a ballpark and it’s hard to get an accurate quote.

Some tattoo shops will charge by the hour instead of a flat rate, regardless of the design, and these hourly rates can be anywhere from $50 to $200 per hour. On average, a sleeve done all at once may take 10 to 35 hours+, depending on the complexity, colors, and the artist’s speed.  Keep in mind that many people tend to get these types of tattoos over time and not at once.

One member on claimed his half sleeve took 15 hours, and he paid $150 per hour for the job. notes it may cost $500 to $2,000 and most should plan on spending at least five to eight hours to have the job done.

Half sleeve tattoo overview

Half-sleeve tattoos can be pre-designed or can be drafted by using existing tattoos. Pre-planned sleeves commonly entail long hours of tattooing sessions and can even take weeks, months, or years to complete depending on the intricacy of the produced design.  In some instances, a sleeve piece is created when the customer has numerous smaller pieces, making a connection with additional pieces like fillers or perhaps a background.  In the end, a half sleeve should take up half of the arm and will cover the shoulder to the elbow area.

A consultation with the artist is the first step of the process.  The artist is going to help you with your pre-planned design or can help you find something if you are unsure of what you want.

The full design will be included, usually in the traditional black and white color.  While colors can be done, it can be an additional cost.

What are the extra costs?

The more detailed the tattoo is, the higher your price tag is going to be.  This can be especially true if the tattoo is detailed and is hard to create.  Custom made tattoos will always cost more.

If the design you came up with requires many colors,  it will be more expensive than only one or two colors.

The number of sessions needed and the time span of each session is going to affect the price.  Some shops may have a flat fee when visiting, regardless of how long your session is.

Over the years or even after your final session is done, there’s a good chance you will have to come in for a touch-up session.  Some artists may do this for free if you’re a repeat customer, while others will charge a small fee; this is usually a bit less than their hourly rate.

Most artists will ask for a deposit to book your time slot.  This way, if you were to be a no-show, they would keep the deposit for wasting their time.  Of course, if you show up at your time slot, this deposit will be applied to your final bill.  Most deposits will be one hour of their hourly rate.

How can I save money?

Talk with a few artists in your area.  Be sure to focus on their past work, education and cleanliness.  When it comes to any tattoo, you will never want to focus on the cheapest or quickest option because remember, this tattoo will be with you for life and there’s a good chance a lot of people will see it while you’re walking the streets.  A good tattoo will take time and a lot of patience.

Some artists may lower their hourly rate if you schedule sessions in the future.

Half sleeves tattoos ideas

Listed below are some of the most common sleeve tattoo types, along with some pictures/ideas: (If you want even more half sleeve tattoo idea, visit this, this or this resource.

Traditional tattoo sleeve

A photo posted by Justin Tattooartist Lynn (@jlynntattoos317) on


A photo posted by LostAnchorTattooParlour (@lostanchortattoos) on

Japanese sleeve tattoos

A photo posted by Scott Oliver (@stb_tattooer) on

Geometric tattoo sleeve

A photo posted by Stefanie Mader (@fusselwusl) on

Flower tattoo sleeve

A photo posted by Roy Corona (@lilroytattoos) on

Galaxy tattoo sleeve

A photo posted by Edson Alves de Melo (@turcotattoostudio) on

Forest sleeve tattoo

A photo posted by Kevin Mercuur (@kevin_mercuur) on

Space sleeve tattoo

A photo posted by Eduard Korneev (@eduardkorneev) on

Floral sleeve tattoo

A photo posted by Cara Cable (@blackcatcara) on

Watercolor tattoo sleeves

A photo posted by Sarah Papanek (@sarahpapanek) on

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Average Reported Cost: $0

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How much did you spend?

Was it worth it?  

  1. Jessica R (Roseburg,  Oregon) paid $0 and said:

    I’ve only gotten the main lily piece, a sugar skull, and a koi fish to start. Some color and shading done too. Still need to finish the flowers, shading in some parts of the skull, the koi needs color, and a main back piece.

    Was it worth it? Yes

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