How Long Should A Small Tattoo Take?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on August 17, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

In recent years, small tattoos have seen a surge in popularity, as many find them a more accessible way to enter the tattoo world. In 2017, approximately $1.6 billion was produced by the tattoo industry. They’re perfect for those not wanting to take that big leap by getting a more noticeable tattoo. Small tattoos can be modest, inconspicuous, and won’t take up too much of your time or money.

Yet, that makes it no less of a significant process. There’s a multitude of other factors to consider in preparation for that ink date. Chances are, you may be clueless as to the tattoo lingo and desperately need some advice. Bottom line? It’s wise to be fully prepared.

How long does a small tattoo take depends on:

  • Quality of the tattoo artist
  • Design
  • Placement

Do Your Research

Getting a small tattoo is no fleeting decision. It’s is a permanent one, something that will remain on your body fovever. Statista tells us that most Americans get their tattoos in their 20’s, and many never have any regrets regarding their decision.

Something that will have an impact on the time it takes to complete your tattoo is the professionalism of the artist and parlor. This is why a careful, thought-out selection of tattoo parlors and their artists is vital.

The Artist

Artist Credentials

A reputable tattoo artist should have had many years of climbing the industry ladder. Similar to the training required for any other job, a reliable artist will have the necessary training to have a certain level of skill.

Find out how long they’ve been working in the industry. Be sure to check their credentials and then fact-check before a discussion of your desired tattoo takes place.


It’s also advisable to select a professional that you can form a connection with. This way, you’ll feel more comfortable when getting a tattoo, which will minimize awkwardness or discomfort. This will, in turn, reduce how long it takes for the artist to complete the tattoo. 


For further assurance, ask to see their portfolio. Observe what kind of work they do, and see how they work. A tattoo artist and parlor should be proud of the quality of their work.

The Parlour


Something that will particularly speed up the process of the tattoo is the professionalism of the tattoo parlor. A reliable and high-quality service will make a difference. You will notice that a good tattoo shop will proudly bare a reputable legal license


A good tattoo parlor should also provide good aftercare or at least reliable advice on aftercare. At the very minimum, your tattoo should be wrapped once the job’s done.

If the parlor you’re looking at isn’t transparent with its advice on care, ask them. This can affect the length of time a small tattoo takes since it reduces the need for you to go back if something isn’t right. Your tattoo artist should also help to advise on what to put on your tattoo in terms of soap and lotion.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing. Click here to buy from Amazon.


Be sure to check out the equipment. It should be sterile. The efficiency of the devices used will provide a quicker, more efficient experience. It should also be visibly clean and hygienic.


A small tattoo won’t always equate to speed when it comes to getting inked. There are various factors to look at beyond the measure of the intended tattoo: 

  • Complexity: Complex designs containing many intricate details will require intense focus from your tattoo artist. This applies to custom designs, as well. They won’t be as familiar with the intricacy of the design as they would if it was a standard one
  • Color: A tattoo design that contains multiple colors will slow down the inking process. For example, the tattoo equipment will need to be cleaned upon each color change.

The Area

Sitting calmly during the inking will greatly speed up the experience. Many people can’t endure the pain, and thus, choose to have the job done in different sittings. While this may work for some, it extends the longevity of the whole process.

Note the nature and thickness of the area of skin in which you desire the ink. Choosing a less-sensitive location will prevent you from needing a break or disturbing the process. Delicate areas where the skin is thin includes the lip, neck area, rib cage and hands.

A lack of contours will also make a small tattoo much faster to complete. For example, if you plan on getting yours done on the inside of your forearm, it’s a less complicated area than the ribs, where there’s less muscle, and the surface is more undulated.

Size Doesn’t Equal Speed!

Small tattoos can be done in a very short amount of time — even within an hour. If you’re set on getting a specific design, don’t expect it to be a simple process, though. Other factors can make the process longer than you might expect. Factor in things such as color, design, the area on your body and the experience of the artist.