How Far Should You Travel To Get A Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 7, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

How far you should travel for your dream tattoo comes down to how much you want to have the best tattoo possible. If you want a highly unique and complex design and live remotely, you’ll likely have to travel far. If you live in a major city, you’re at an advantage already.

It’s important to recognize that every tattoo is unique, and it requires a certain type of artist to maximize its potential, which is why you should look to factor in some of the below features.

Understanding Your Needs

Before you decide to go the distance for the sake of your tattoo, it’s first important to understand what your needs are when it comes to getting your tattoo:

  • Size of your tattoo
  • Complexity involved
  • Specialist designs

Size of Your Tattoo

The size of your tattoo can dictate the amount of time, energy and effort needed in the whole process. If you’re going for miniature tattoos that have the same color palette and are, say, no more than 4 by 4 inch-square, you could visit your neighborhood tattoo parlor without much trouble.

Tattoos that can take up an entire appendage are a completely different story, though. These types of tattoos require a certain degree of commitment from you and the artist. For example, back tattoos can take anywhere between 20 to 40 hours worth of work.

If you’ve traveled a great distance for your dream tattoo and have a lot of work that needs to be done on your body, you might need to shack up in that location for a few days. This is dependent on the availability of your artist, so it could take weeks to complete the tattoo. Scheduling these sessions in advance can help you ease the entire process.

Complexity Involved 

By adding dimensions, gradients, color schemes, and other elements to your design, you’re increasing the requirement for how talented the artist needs to be.

If you’re going for a basic tattoo, we suggest looking up the most competent artist in your city and have faith in their skills. If your tattoo is vastly complex, it might be worth looking beyond your area code, especially if you don’t live in a major city. 

Complex tattoos tend to cost a lot more than your average tattoos, but the cost of repairing or removing them can be greater. If you’re going for a grand ol’ tattoo, make sure you find an artist who can execute your vision to the tee.

Specialist Designs

Over the years, tattoo artists have been drawn into various specializations, thereby offering far more options in terms of stylization. If you have a design in mind that requires a particular skill, such as negative tattoos, committing to traveling the distance to that artist is wise.

Considering this for these types of tattoos:


This is a popular art form that relies on the end product looking as realistic as possible. Artists in this niche tend to execute tattoos to near perfection, and so are highly skilled and sought after. If you live remotely, you may have to travel some distance to reach such artists.


This is a popular tattoo style that utilizes stylized symbols to represent indigenous art. Although these types of tattoos appear to be complex, they often tend to be the staple diet of any given tattoo artist. If you’re looking to get a tribal tattoo, you probably won’t have to travel very far.


This is one of the latest styles of tattoos, with neo-traditional artists being influenced by art nouveau and art deco aesthetics. This is a rare style of tattooing, so expect to travel far to find a suitable artist.

Finding Your Artist

The single most important external factor when you’re getting a tattoo is the artist. Tattoos are subjective, your tastes are subjective and your preferences in an artist, in the end, will also be subjective.

Make sure you go through an artist’s body of work before you buckle down with them. Talented tattoo artists are everywhere, and if you do enough research, you may not have to travel very far. Remember that the distance traveled doesn’t equate to quality tattoos. 

You may travel to the ends of the world but still walk away with a mediocre tattoo. Fortunately for you, the internet can play a crucial role in weeding out the less-qualified artists — post on your social media, ask your tatted friends and get independent reviews.

Dream, and Travel

If you have a grand tattoo design in mind, make sure you’re willing to travel for the commitment since your local artist might not have the skills or experience to fit your needs.

Once you know the particular style you want, interview the artist/parlor to see if they have any experience with that style. If they start to offer suggestions and ways to improve your tattoo, you might be onto a winner.