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How Long Does It Take to Get a Tattoo?

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Coke can tattoo approx. 4-5 hours to complete.

Coke can tattoo approx. 4-5 hours to complete.

So, you've decided to get a tattoo after hours of careful consideration, deep thought about your design, and research into your chosen artist. Or you've randomly just thought, "You know what, I'm getting a tattoo." Either way, you should really know how long it will take to get the tattoo of your dreams.

Many things are included in the time it takes to get a tattoo, and it will probably take more time than you expect. Your appointment can and often will include the final tweaking of your design and the creation of your tattoo transfer. Depending on whether you approve the final design or not (and now is the last chance to say you don't—speak up!) will directly affect your remaining tattoo time.

Tattoo artists are like any other specialist in their chosen field. They perform their craft at different speeds.

Things That Affect the Time Your Tattoo Will Take

  • The artist's previous experience.
  • Artist's natural skill and ability.
  • Style of tattoo.
  • Amount of detail required in chosen design.
  • Multiple colors (which require color changes).
  • The tattoo's position on your body and ease of access.
  • Everyone's attitude on the day.
  • Also, you: How long you can sit still for, how much you complain, your skin type, and how much money you have with you . . .

How Long Is a Tattoo Session?

  • Typically, it can be any length of time, from one hour upwards.
  • An average and tolerable time frame and a standard session is around five hours. However, shorter or longer sessions aren't unusual.
  • Depending on your artist, they may choose to make it a day session. These are typically around seven to eight hours plus—if you can stand it! They also generally come with a set rate, regardless of how long it actually takes.
  • If your tattoo is going to be on the larger side with a lot of detail, you may find that you will need more than one session for it to be completed.
  • A full back piece, with details and multiple colors, can take up to twenty hours, to completely finish. More in some cases.
  • An appointment may also include the creation and printing of your stencil, (the outline of your tattoo to be transferred onto your skin, before being tattooed). Your design may also need to be tweaked and altered to meet your final approval. It also needs to suit the landscape and natural flow of the body part that will be getting tattooed.

Note that long sessions are not recommended for your first tattoo. Aim for a session that is around three to four hours long.

What Takes So Long?

Tattoos with complex designs and extremely fine details are known to take more time. The artist will need to concentrate and may slow down considerably to ensure that all the details of your design are executed accurately and as precisely as possible.

Also, a vast range of different colors is another contributor. This requires the artist to continuously clean out their tattoo machines needle of ink, which considerably lengthens a session.

Old School tattoo. 6 hours.

Old School tattoo. 6 hours.

Stages of Getting a Tattoo

Getting a tattoo is generally a bit more complex than just showing up at the studio. In many cases, it will go like this:

  1. Calling the studio and booking a pre-tattoo consultation (approximately fifteen to thirty minutes).
  2. Meeting your tattoo artist in their studio (where you will actually be tattooed):
  • To discuss design and placement.
  • To discuss price/cost.
  • Address any of your questions or concerns.
  • For you to check out the studio and their hygiene practices.
  • An opportunity for the them to inform you of anything.

After you have done all, some, or even none of the above steps, it's time for you to book your actual appointment. Then, once you are at your session, you will most likely go through the following stages:

  1. The body part to be tattooed is washed and possibly shaved if there's any hair.
  2. The transfer of design is applied to the skin.
  3. The artist prepares the ink and tattoo machine (some may choose to do this step earlier).
  4. Commence tattooing.
  5. When completed, your artist will wipe down your tattoo with a cool liquid (usually a water based solution) to remove any excess ink and blood.
  6. Applies aftercare cream.
  7. Wraps freshly inked tattoo for your journey home, to avoid contaminants entering your new tattoo.

Please Note:

All time frames provided are only estimates and a guide only. For a more accurate estimate on how long your design will take, it's best to ask the tattoo artist themselves.

Enjoy your tattoo, and good luck!


However long it took for you to get your amazing tattoo, the needle pierced your skin repeatedly created a wound that needs to heal.

Proper aftercare is essential in maintaining your new tattoo and avoiding infections, which can damage it. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Remove wrapping once at home.
  2. Wash it with tattoo wash.
  3. Rinse thoroughly.
  4. Apply approved aftercare cream only.
  5. Repeat three to five times a day, for the first three days.
  6. Reduce the amount of washing and application of aftercare lotion to two times a day for the next five to seven days.
  • Tips for Preparing for Your First Tattoo
    Preparing for your new tattoo will assist with reducing discomfort, and increase the healing rat, minimising potential damage to your new tattoo. Learn what you need to do before, during and after.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Sienna on January 06, 2020:

I love these tatto I wondered how long it takes that’s all

Me on March 26, 2018:

How long would a woman’s face take ?

thomas on October 24, 2017:

i like tattoo they are the best and the art is amazing

Breezy on October 10, 2014:

This was extremely helpful. My senior anatomy class is doing a project on how tattoos affect your body (meaning the integumentary system & your immune system.) Thanks, m8.c: